As many countries and organisations prepare for the next phase of lockdown, and response to the pandemic, it has raised many interesting issues about the future world of work.
Will we return to ‘business as usual’, or will the pandemic mean that we will need to change the way we work in a more fundamental way? Organisations have needed to adapt their ways of working and structures to meet the new reality, but will this last after the current crisis has passed?
The lockdown has proved that for lots of businesses, our ability to discharge our work does not require attendance in a workplace. Record numbers of people continue to work from home during the lockdown period. For many organisations, homeworking has now become normal. It has proved conclusively that with the right technology in place, so many jobs can be effectively discharged at home.
It has also proved that technology, when properly deployed, can enhance the human experience at work, rather than replace it.
The lockdown has also highlighted those companies who have been true to their people-centred values in hard times, and those who have not. Consumers will remember those organisations who were on the right side of history, those who led with humanity, who lived their human-centred values when it mattered, and did everything they could to support their people. Those on the wrong side will be left to pick up the pieces of damaged reputations and trust.
The unprecedented challenges have also created new waves of innovation. Organisations have adapted to meet their customers’ requirements in new and creative ways. Companies, even those who are traditionally competitors, have collaborated and worked together for the common good. Governments, and communities have mobilised to find ways of meeting needs and supporting businesses who have been particularly badly impacted by the virus. Traditional ways of working have been abandoned in favour of rapid changes to fit the current context. Organisations have proved that when you place your trust in people, and provide them with the necessary tools and information, they invariably rise to the challenge and find the right solutions.
The common theme in all of this is human connection. It highlights the impact of genuine principled leadership.
Whatever the future world of work looks like, those organisations who authentically live a strong people-centred philosophy will be the ones who adapt quicker, enhance their reputation, become more resilient, build loyalty, and are therefore positioned to bounce back more effectively.