This week, we have rounded up some of the most pertinent questions we have received from you: our clients, partners and community. In this article, AKKA Architect’s CEO, Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes answers some of your most pertinent questions!

If you have a question you would like answered, ask it here.

Question: Early 2020, you – at AKKA Architects – published a report highlighting the imminent trends that were to affect Human Resources and the world of work in 2020 and beyond. With the Covid-19 pandemic, how have these trends changed?

Early 2020, we indeed issued a report entitled “HUMAN RESOURCES TRENDS 2020 & BEYOND: The top 6 imminent trends of 2020 & beyond”. In it, we highlighted the 6 imminent trends that we saw affecting the world of work and Human Resources (HR) for the year, with an eye on the following few years too. The six trends are: Technology, Generational Changes, Appreciation of Complexity, Inclusive Leadership and Professional Development, Employee Branding and Global Recruitment and Establishing Work-Life Balance as the Norm. So let’s start by looking at the first two. Last week, we looked at the first two trends, Technology and Generational Changes. This week, we dive into the second pair.

Trend #3: Appreciation of Complexity

“Due to the fierce competition in the world of business, understanding the complexities in an organization – complexities such as the percentage of internal successors as well as the voluntary turnover of the business – is critical to producing results. Understanding this helps the reinforcement of the company goals and the focus on the mission and the vision that the company needs to achieve. More so, an appreciation of complexities helps in making more tailored and long-lasting solutions.”

RESOURCES TRENDS 2020 & BEYOND: The top 6 imminent trends of 2020 & beyond, AKKA Architects, 2020.                   

For HR professionals, understanding the complexities affecting their role and responsibilities used to be focused on the dynamics within their organisation, the tendencies within their industry and the global trends at play, in that order. With Covid-19 heavily affecting every organisation in every industry, understanding the complexities has not only become more crucial than ever, but its order may also have shifted. It seems almost imperative to understand the global trends first, and then the industry implications, and only afterwards, the dynamics within the organisation itself. In any case, this pandemic has proven in irrefutable terms how everything is interconnected and interdependent, reminding me of one of my favourite quotes by Alfred Whitehead:

The misconception […] is the notion of ‘independent existence. There is no such mode of existence; every entity is to be understood in terms of the way it is interwoven with the rest of the universe.

Trend #4: Inclusive Leadership & Professional Development

“Nowadays, employees’ expectations are high and hey specifically expect the leadership to do more. With phrases such as “leaders lead by example” being commonly used, the performance of employees, as well as the company, seems to be highly dependent on the performance of the leaders. Moreover, inclusive leadership, which insinuates that focus is given to the inclusivity in leading and in decision making, has been found to help develop accountability and promote good leadership skills among employees.”

RESOURCES TRENDS 2020 & BEYOND: The top 6 imminent trends of 2020 & beyond, AKKA Architects, 2020.

As Covid-19 swept the globe, new found ourselves facing an unprecedented situation, for which we have no manual and no pre-designed protocols. It is in situations like this that leadership is truly exposed. As Warren Buffet says, “You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” We are facing a time where most leaders in most organisations might find themselves with no answers and no solutions. In such circumstances, our best chance could be to put all our minds together and practice what I would call ‘collective leadership’. This new form of leadership would focus on facilitating the process rather than jumping to solutions. Through a well designed participatory process, leaders and employees can focus together on asking the right questions, and together on exploring possible answers. When this participatory process of leadership is adopted more widely, will we see inclusive leadership evolve into shared leadership?

Appreciation of Complexity and Inclusive Leadership & Professional Development are the second two of six imminent trends that are set to shape HR this year and for the next few years. In the next article, we will dive into the next and last trends to explore how they might have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

To find out what are the latest trends now and beyond 2020, download here Human Resources Trends report, which contains the top 6 imminent trends of 2020 and beyond.

Explore the latest trends and how they impact HR.

Do you have a question about your workplace? Request your FREE PERSONAL ADVICE now, by asking our very own CEO your most burning question. Fill in the form below with your question and Stephanie will get back to you with her thoughts.
 
If you prefer a live one on one coaching session, please book it here

By filling out this form you agree to the Privacy Policy.

This week, we have rounded up some of the most pertinent questions we have received from you: our clients, partners and community. In this article, AKKA Architect’s CEO, Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes answers some of your most pertinent questions!

If you have a question you would like answered, ask it here.

Question: Early 2020, you – at AKKA Architects – published a report highlighting the imminent trends that were to affect Human Resources and the world of work in 2020 and beyond. With the Covid-19 pandemic, how have these trends changed?

Early 2020, we indeed issued a report entitled “HUMAN RESOURCES TRENDS 2020 & BEYOND: The top 6 imminent trends of 2020 & beyond”. In it, we highlighted the 6 imminent trends that we saw affecting the world of work and Human Resources (HR) for the year, with an eye on the following few years too. The six trends are: Technology, Generational Changes, Appreciation of Complexity, Inclusive Leadership and Professional Development, Employee Branding and Global Recruitment and Establishing Work-Life Balance as the Norm. So let’s start by looking at the first two.

Technology has become one of the most impactful trends that have over the years revolutionised how HR operates, in all businesses.

Trend #1: Technology

“Technology has become one of the most impactful trends that have over the years revolutionised how HR operates, in all businesses. Technology has changed the way that businesses offer services, how they communicate and how employees are recruited. Additionally, the progress of technology has transformed the workplace in that lesser and lesser space is required to store data as well as for employees to work. Technology, in its different forms and shapes, has affected nearly every aspect of the business, from the way that business leaders make decisions, to the way that every single employee works.”

RESOURCES TRENDS 2020 & BEYOND: The top 6 imminent trends of 2020 & beyond, AKKA Architects, 2020.                   

During Covid-19, we saw an exodus from our offices to our homes. Health workers and essential professions aside, almost every other working professional shifted to working from home. With this, day-to-day work technology got its big break. Conferencing platforms were never as used and as accepted than in the last few months. What we thought was impossible turned out to be workable and we all got used to online meetings, digital brainstorms and virtual gatherings. We have all developed love or hate relationship with numerous software and platforms. Nevertheless, for better or for worse, technology has come through for us and rescued a huge proportion of our working dynamics when we didn’t have much of a choice.

When we think of technology now, however, working from home and virtual meeting software are not the only thing worth mentioning. As we go back to the office, a myriad of different technologies, such as cameras measuring temperatures at office building entrances, is there to greet us and keep us healthy, at least physically healthy.

Moving forward, technology has a large opportunity to support our ways of working even more so now, that we have accepted it more widely across the world and more frequently within our own workdays and work weeks. With that opportunity, comes a risk too. Technology for the sake of technology, or technology as the expense of our mental and emotional wellbeing should be avoided. For more about mental well-being, check out this article: “Returning to a Resilient Workplace”.

Different generation groups of employees have different needs and expectations in terms of job performance, well-being and satisfaction.

Trend #2: Generational Changes

“Since the 1950s, different generations have inhabited the workplace. These groups of employees had different needs and expectations in terms of job performance, well-being and satisfaction. These different needs have influenced HR management in businesses over time”

RESOURCES TRENDS 2020 & BEYOND: The top 6 imminent trends of 2020 & beyond, AKKA Architects, 2020.

While the generations that are populating workplaces around the world haven’t changed in themselves, their attitudes and mentality have definitely shifted.

The most obvious shift we will see will be in relation to the pandemic itself. I believe different generations might see the safety of returning to work differently and therefore have varying expectations as to what measures the management, as well as fellow employees, should take and respect to keep everyone safe. On one hand, I believe cultural differences will largely affect how strict or relaxed different people will consider the need for distancing measures and how serious or dismissive they might be when adhering to them. On the other hand, generational differences will also largely influence our mentality, attitudes and therefore behaviour. And when generations are not aligned, this could create tremendous friction between colleagues on the work floor. 

The second shift of mentality we might observe is a heightened need for meaning at work. With the pandemic highlighting how essential some jobs are and how people can help each other through difficult times, I foresee more questioning relating to the meaning and value of our work. With it will come an increased longing to do something meaningful that genuinely helps other people. This increased desire for meaning work is something we have discussed before here, here and also here.

The third shift to highlight when it comes to generational changes is the even more acute demand for more freedom. Now that the pandemic has shown us that even the extreme situation of the entire world – almost – working from outside the office for months, does work, to a certain extent, our choices have been expanded. This unplanned global experiment in working from home that we have witnessed has definitely expanded the spectrum of possibilities for our ways of working. It seems that we have stretched the spectrum of choices we have and with that, different generations will rebound from that differently. While some may cherish working from the office even more now, some may take this as an opportunity to gain more freedom in the working from anywhere department. This will, without a doubt, change the role and responsibilities of Workplace Professionals. Are you an HR manager, Facility Manager, or any other form of Workplace Professional? you might be interested in reading here about the new role you can adopt in supporting your workforce and helping your entire organisation recover.

Technology and Generational Changes are the first two of six imminent trends that are set to shape HR this year and for the next few years. In the next article, we will dive into the next trends to explore how they might have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

To find out what are the latest trends now and beyond 2020, download here Human Resources Trends report, which contains the top 6 imminent trends of 2020 and beyond.

Explore the latest trends and how they impact HR.

Do you have a question about your workplace? Request your FREE PERSONAL ADVICE now, by asking our very own CEO your most burning question. Fill in the form below with your question and Stephanie will get back to you with her thoughts.
 
If you prefer a live one on one coaching session, please book it here

By filling out this form you agree to the Privacy Policy.

The world of Workplace is increasingly more fascinating and more complex. Through our years of practice designing and building workplaces for organisations, small, medium and large, in various industries and from around the world, we have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and insights, all thanks to our clients.

Whether we work closely with the head of Human Resources (HR), the head of Facilities Management (FM) or the head of Corporate Real Estate (CRE), one thing is clear, these roles have been coming closer together and gaining more and more overlaps over the last number of years. A new role is even emerging that blurs the boundaries between HR, FM, CRE, and even IT and Corporate Communication to name a few. We call this role ‘Workplace Professional’.

Over the last few months, we have been interviewing leading Workplace Professionals in the best companies from around the world. In this series, we engage in conversations with those at the forefront of the world of workplace, to bring you their intriguing insights, best practices, and most successful case studies. Welcome to the Workplace Experts’ Interviews series!

This week, we share the fantastic insights-packed conversation our CEO Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes had with Jesper Ambrosius, Director & Head of LEGO Workplace Experience at The LEGO Group.

The LEGO Group is a privately help company based in Billund in Denmark. The company is still owned by the Kirk Kristiansen family who founded it in 1932. While LEGO does not need an introduction, we will say this. The name ‘LEGO’ is an abbreviation of the two Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. “It’s our name and it’s our ideal”.

Jesper Ambrosius since graduating with a Master’s in Economics, Jesper have been working within primarily two areas: high-level strategy at CXO-level and leadership. This has led him to his current role at the LEGO Group where he heads up “LEGO Workplace Experience”. His aim is to create workplace experiences that enable LEGO employees to be and do their best at work, attract and retain world class talents, and bring them closer to the LEGO values.

Jesper Ambrosius about the world of workplace

Covid-19 Note:
While the below interview was conducted before the pandemic happened, Jesper was kind enough to supplement the conversation with his most recent thoughts and insights related to Covid-19 and the future of work and the workplace, towards the end of the interview.

Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes: Jesper Ambrosius, welcome! Thank you for joining this series of interviews with the world’s best Workplace Experts.

Jesper Ambrosius: Great, I’m looking forward to it.

Stephanie: Me too. Let’s start with a simple description of your role in one or two sentences?

Jesper: What I’m striving towards is making the Lego Group the best workplace it can be. I believe we have a huge potential given our history, our values, our brand and aspiration, and of course, also given the resources that are available to us.

Stephanie: Fantastic. Could you elaborate a bit more about the vision of workplace experience you have at Lego?

Jesper: Yeah, that’s an interesting one. My team and I have already defined our vision. I should say here that we are a new team. We haven’t even existed a year yet. Therefore, we’re still trying to find our way in all of this. And looking at workplace experiences, it is a new thing to Lego as well. So, it’s really up to us to define it. The way we describe Lego workplace experiences so far is in four buckets. One is to inspire. Another one is to be fun and playful. The third one is to adapt to our diverse needs. And the fourth one is to provide what we call a caring home-like feel. So that’s how we would like to see the workplace develop.

Stephanie: Right.  And what would you say would be the greatest added value that this vision of workplace experience can bring to the organization?

Jesper: I think one of the biggest added values would be to bring the Lego brand closer to the workplace. We would like to give the brand promise we offer to our customers to our employees as well. We know much more about our consumers and customers than we know about our employees. We want to get close to the employees and understand their needs and their aspirations even better, so we can actually adapt the workplace and make Lego as an employer brand more malleable and hopefully attract and retain the right talents that we need. That’s one of the most important added value that we can bring to the organisation.

Stephanie: With the concept of play being at the centre of the Lego brand, how do you see that translated into the employee experience?

Jesper: I see that translating in many ways potentially. And that’s also actually what we’re working very much on. I think the whole playfulness is one of the values that really separates Lego from a lot from other companies and brands. So, one thing is actually looking at the whole environment, the design of our workplace, and then building that in a playful way. Basically, we like to see the world through the eyes of a child. Another area would be how we interact with each other in the workplace and how we can make our ways of working more playful? As an example, if I were to look ahead three years from now, I would love to be in a place where if I were to, let’s say, facilitate a workshop and I invited a bunch of people in for this, I would feel that it’s my obligation to actually come up with a playful way of facilitating this workshop because it’s been so ingrained in how we work and how we see playfulness as part of our methodology. Research has shown that playfulness in work causes people’s attention to go up and hopefully the meeting outcome will be better based on that. So, we hope to start from a design and environmental point of view and complement it with a culture point of view.

Stephanie: Absolutely fascinating. You know, you’re touching the core of my own belief about how the workplace design can help interactions at work. You already mentioned the idea that the physical design can help the employee experience through the branding that it embodies and is able to communicate it to employees. And the additional question is how do you design your environment in a way that it actively enables people to behave in certain ways?

Jesper: There’s definitely that interdependency between ways of working, the cultural aspect and the physical space. So, it makes sense that those areas belong together. We like to look at the workplace experience as holistically as possible because we believe there’s a lot of elements to it to really make it work.

Stephanie: Absolutely. So, what are your forefronts challenges in achieving this?

Jesper: Well one of my dreams is to build enough understanding through different kinds of data. This is also to be able to convince the right stakeholders that workplace experiences are a fundamental factor in building the employer brand and in recruiting talent and then retaining them. When it comes to the challenges, I think the main one we are facing is we don’t have enough data or evidence and therefore we struggle with telling the right story based on data. I do believe this might even be an industry wide challenge.
I think a related challenge is really to get that executive backing or support to actually make it work. I mean, I’m curious to see if, for example we had a decline in growth, whether the same focus which we are spending now on employee experience would still be there.

Stephanie: It’s very interesting you mention that. I was reading in a certain publication about the tendency of companies, when business is bad to cut down on marketing. And this is exactly where you need to invest specifically when business is bad. And when you consider employee experience being your internal marketing, then investing in employee experience becomes crucial, especially in declining times. Even things as a barista at the office, which are often considered luxury. The question is do you look at the short cycle or the long cycle? This is the difference between considering the barista too expensive to have or too expensive not to have. It’s kind of how large do you tolerate the circle of your return on investment to be. How many steps are you willing to be patient about money in and money out, such as investing employees, employees being happier,, performing better and then improving the bottom line of the company. 

Jesper: You’re fully right. There are areas that we cannot quantify and we should base on values we want our employees to feel. For instance, we have an ambition to make people feel safe and you do it because it’s a value. It’s something that you want the company to stand for. I do think, that there’s also still a big opportunity for us to do more for our employees of what we would do towards our customers.

Stephanie: Yes, its kind of has to be an iterative process of trying, learning, adapting, retrying, etc. And what would you say are some of your main goals of creating workplace experience?

Jesper: We are looking at three areas. It’s to attract and retain what we call World-Class Talent. So that’s basically tied directly into our HR. Then we also want to create a workplace that basically brings Lego employees closer to the Lego values. That’s the second part. And the third part is that we want to create a workplace where people can be themselves and do their best at work. So that’s the idea behind what we’re doing. If we’re not able to positively influence those three areas, I believe we haven’t done enough, or we haven’t succeeded with our mission. That’s a lot of the purpose that is behind what we do.

Jesper Ambrosius about the world of workplace

Stephanie: Right. And if we look at the tools and resources, you’re using to achieve that. We mentioned the physical space as one of them, what are some of the other pillars you might be using to achieve those goals of employee experience.

Jesper: One of the biggest one is ways of working, how do you expand the options and most importantly how you handle the whole change process in terms of changing the ways of working whether that is going from fixed seating to activity-based working, or even introducing new coffee in the workplace. For example, in our Singapore headquarters, people were complaining about the coffee. So, we invited everybody for a coffee tasting, we invited all different vendors with five different types of coffee. And then people got to decide themselves what coffee they wanted. So that was our way of bringing the employees together to make workplace decisions and creating a bit of excitement around it.

Stephanie: That’s fantastic. I love the example of the coffee, it really captures the idea of how employees can be involved in a process of engagement, and a way to get them heard. In that sense, of course, other things may not be as easily tackled, but the principle is there.

Jesper Exactly.

Stephanie: So what are your thoughts about how you engage employees to figure out what their needs are?

Jesper: As an example, we are right now building our new headquarters in Billund, Denmark. We are still building but we have opened parts of the building already. In this process, we have adopted a phased approach. We started with relocating 500 people, the next phase is relocating 500 more and then the final phase will be a thousand more. So, we’ll end up being two thousand in our headquarters. And we’re seeing each phase as a learning opportunity, because there is a difference between how the change looks on paper, how it might work and how the space is really being used. And of course, we also try to make sure that we embrace two different points of view: the users and the experts. We have some experts on the team, that are quite skillful in terms of e.g. design and psychology. So, we aim to balance bottom-up input with experts’ input as best as possible. There are sometimes aspects that people are not even aware of as possible or useful or even harmful. So, we also need to make sure there’s room for the overview scientific or expert perspective.

Stephanie: Absolutely. And I think having people engaged in the process, gives them a certain level of satisfaction that comes from simply being engaged and heard, almost regardless of the result in that sense. And people will understand that balancing was needed and that the experts’ input is valuable and grounded, even when it seems to go against bottom up ideas.

Jesper: Exactly.

Stephanie: Jesper, if you had three wishes that your workplace could help with, what would those be?

Jesper: That’s a difficult one. First and foremost, I would love us to be more playful both in terms of how we work in the space, but also how the space is being shaped and designed. I think it’s an area where we can really differentiate and make something truly unique at Lego. Another one would be for us to diversify the workplace opportunities more and also to grab them more easily. It’s still somewhat a struggle to get people to play, for instance, ping-pong even though it’s easily available. And I do believe this comes down to a mindset, where play – even literally – is not fully integrated and a fear that it might be frowned upon. I would like people to be a braver and use what’s available more. I would like to see more role models in our workplace living the ideals of the Lego ways of working and also exploring the space more. And I know that I myself need to do better there.

Stephanie: Brilliant. And I think, going back to data, more and more research is backing up the fact that play is an essential component of learning. So a lot of momentum is building going forward. And speaking of going forward, and looking at the world of work globally, what would you say are the biggest challenges, but also the biggest opportunities for the future of work?

Jesper: I think one of the challenges I see is, going back to what I said earlier, the risk that in a situation of declining growth, organisations globally stop investing in the workplace and workplace experience. Will that be just as important then as it is now? On the other hand, in terms of opportunities, I do feel, what you said earlier as well as Stephanie, that the area of workplace experience is getting more and more momentum. You can say we’re having more and more focus on this, globally. And many companies are quite serious about it. So hopefully this comes with even more good data and knowledge about what works and what doesn’t. And then we can be just as knowledgeable about our own employees as we are our customers. So, I think that’s a huge opportunity. So, I’m very happy about working in this space and hopefully contributing to more going forward.

Stephanie: Fantastic and I’m sure, you know, being Lego, there is a kind of pioneering role that you are able to play compared to other companies around the world. You know, as you just said before, if Lego can’t be playful, then who can?

Jesper: Exactly. And that’s what we hope for and are working towards.

Covid-19 Note:
While the interview above was conducted before the pandemic happened, Jesper was kind enough to supplement the conversation with his most recent thoughts and insights related to Covid-19 and the future of work and the workplace. So, we asked him two more questions.

Stephanie: How do you think Covid-19 has and might continue to affect our ways of working and our workplace?

Jesper: This is a big question! Fundamentally, I think it will accelerate a development that was already underway with more people working from home (or elsewhere outside of the “formal” workplace) and experiencing the benefits of that. In many ways, it can suit a particular lifestyle and, when utilised correctly, it can really be an employee benefit that organisations can use strategically to improve the employer brand by increasing motivation and satisfaction. It goes without saying that the home office needs to have the right equipment to also be a healthy workplace and that not all kinds of work is suited for the home office but, in balance, I believe it has the potential to become a big asset for (especially) knowledge companies. Also considering the fact that it’s much cheaper to have peopling working from home than expanding the current real estate footprint so COVID-19 will also likely affect areas such as real estate strategies, attraction and retention, ways of working, IT security etc.

Stephanie: What would you say is the most important thing to focus on right now, to ensure a successful recovery for our workplaces, employees, and organisations?

Jesper: In a situation with great uncertainty, where we do not know what will happen and where the data is seriously lacking (due to the novelty of the virus and systemic risks), I am a big believer of the “precautionary principle” and I think this should be applied in the workplaces as well. That means, rather be on the cautious side and be wrong than be too risky. People need to feel safe and they need to know that the workplace is a safe place to be – otherwise, it cannot compete with the home office, which might be the safest place of all (especially in bigger cities where people commute by train, tube, and bus). Moreover, I think organisations must develop working-from-home policies and use it strategically to increase the workplace experience. Thinking “workplace experience” more holistically will also be a big challenge for organisations but a challenge that they will have to overcome to retain and attract the right talents. People’s expectations regarding workplaces will change – if they haven’t already – and understanding those changes will be key. As an example, with more people working from home and given the option to do so, how can the “formal” workplace legitimise itself when it is not the default option? If you suddenly have options to choose from, what are the benefits of going to the workplace rather than staying at home or going to the local café?

Stephanie: Well, Jesper, this has been extremely fascinating. I want to thank you for the time and the wonderful insights. You shared a lot of food for thought.

Jesper: Absolutely. Thank you very much for having me on the series.

To find out how optimising your workplace can help you retain your employees by fostering better social interactions, download here AKKA’s Innovative Workplace Expert guide, which contains the full version of one of our case studies and more practical examples of other projects that show you how AKKA has increased team engagement and boost productivity over and over again for small, medium and large organisations, in a variety of industries and countries from around the world.

Use your workplace as a strategic tool to attract and retain the best talent.

How do we consider the learnings of Covid-19 to expand the possibilities of the future of work?

There is no question that we have been witnessing a global tragedy. Covid-19 has created a number of consequences, some direct, some indirect and some unintended. Like an eternal optimist, I remain eager to find a silver lining in every situation, even one as terrible as this pandemic. Looking at some of its unintended consequences, there may be hope. So let’s zoom in on the world of work, to see how has Covid-19 has affected our ways of working and more importantly, to see where do we go from here.

Could trying times and lessons learned lead to more flexibility, better ways of working and a better work-life integration?

best places to work

For a considerable number of months now, we have been witnessing what is essentially a worldwide experiment in ways of working. Its tragic cause aside, the experiment is absolutely fascinating when you consider that it is happening across all continents, all cultures, all industries simultaneously and for a considerable period of time now. I know of no other experiment in ways of working of comparable scale and duration. So, framing the last few months as an experiment, what are the lessons learned?

"The true method of knowledge is experiment."

The world of work and the workplace have been going through quite an evolution over the last few years. We have explored more flexibility at work (from flex desking scenarios, to activity-based working, to working from home), more diverse and unorthodox settings in the workplace (from lounges to specialty coffee bars and yoga rooms) and a whole array of digital platforms and virtual tools.

And yet in the grand scheme of things, these choices were all still within a limited spectrum. Working from home 5 days a week was never an option for example. This limited menu of options we have enjoyed so far, is mostly due the fact that employers and employees alike had their doubts and reservations about how workable or effective different options would be, if stretched or expanded. For example, while many employers already allow working from home 1 day a week, most employers as well as employees, would not have imagined working from home full time.

Restricted freedom today could lead to increased freedom tomorrow.

Attracting screening and retaining the best talent
organise your team as an HR leader
Stretching the limits of what is possible

When Covid-19 hit, it caused an exodus from our offices to our homes. We found ourselves forced in an extreme situation where everyone is working from home all the time. While it might have been a positive experience for some for the first few days, it turned out not to work for everyone, every day. Obviously, this situation did not offer much choice either. It did however expand the spectrum of possibilities. The extreme working from home situation (by extreme I mean, everyone, every day for months) showed us that what we thought impossible can actually work. Granted, it may not be ideal in its extreme version, at least not for everyone. However, experiencing it stretched the limits of what we thought was possible.  

How do we recover?

What does this mean for you, as an HR manager, a Facilities Management professional, a Corporate Real Estate manager or any Business Leader? As Workplace professionals, this is a priceless opportunity to first, study the past period as a global experiment in alternatives ways of working, second consider the learnings and third, expand the possibilities and options available to your workforce. 

As a Workplace Professional, your challenge seems to be shifting. Your challenge may no longer be focused on how employees should or may work. Now that people have experience bigger extremes, we can trust them to find their middle ground, the version along that spectrum of possibilities that suits them. Your challenge may rather now be focused on finding the best way to coordinate all the different ways of working and make them work for and with each other’s. Employees will be able to figure out what works for them individually. Your focus can now be better spent on making all the individuals’ ways of working work together, work for the teams, work across departments, and for the company as a whole. Could the next phase of workplace experiments be centred on the coexistence of options, choices and possibilities? Could your new challenge as a Workplace Professional be “Open up the possibilities, coordinate the choices”?

Like a pendulum that swings from one extreme to the other before finding a balanced middle ground, we have experienced a new extreme during this Covid-19 lockdown. To recover, it may be wiser to find the new balanced middle ground instead of clinging to the old reality. Our choices have been expanded. Can we embrace that wider spectrum of possibilities by following the three steps of a) studying the past period as a global experiment in alternatives ways of working, b) considering the learnings and c) expanding the possibilities and options available to your workforce? With some refinements and coordination, we can create a better reality. Could trying times and lessons learned lead to more flexibility, better ways of working and a better work-life integration? If we learn our lessons and apply them effectively, restricted freedom today could lead to increased freedom tomorrow.

Do you need help applying the three steps of a) studying the past period as a global experiment in alternatives ways of working, b) considering the learnings and c) expanding the possibilities and options available to your workforce, to your company’s specific situation? Are you wondering about the best way to introduce them to your employees in order to ensure adoption and long-term lasting success? Send us here your question and we will get back to you with personal advice.

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