Dear Workplace Professional,
We have all heard it, we are in a crisis. What you may not have heard is that the root of the word ‘crisis’ actually means decision point. Isn’t that a much more empowering way to look at the situation we are in? When it comes to our workplaces, what decision(s) do we need to take now in order to create a future of work that is healthy, compelling and successful?
If you are an HR manager, a Facility Manager, a Corporate Real Estate Manager or any form of Workplace Professional, your decision is simple. You need to ensure your employees can be safe at work, meaning physically and emotionally healthy.
We are at a turning point, a decision point. There can be no return to normal. In fact, in Hong Kong, graffiti reads: “There can be no return to normal because normal was the problem in the first place”. Over the decades, we have seen the workplace evolve through the four questions of utility, productivity, engagement and experience. The shock of this crisis has thrown us back into the basic question of utility, with an extra emphasis on safety. From this point onwards, my personal hope is that we don’t go back to the old normal. I do not think that we should go through the evolution of the four questions again either. My personal hope is that instead, we leapfrog into a higher question of meaning: “How do we reshape our world of work to serve a higher purpose?”.
Will the coronavirus change the way we work, long after the virus is history? Will we abandon the workplace, with much more permanently working from home? Or will we return to all our past practices once this grim episode is over? In fact, if you think about it, the worst thing that can happen is that we indeed return to all our past habits and practices, as if nothing happened. That would be a total waste of an incredible opportunity to learn from our failures and the weaknesses of our systems. This is an opportunity to learn from the present, in order to design a future, that is fundamentally better than our past. As Winston Churchill said, “Never waste a good crisis”.