The three stages of recovery and the future of work.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we have deserted our offices. Our offices have suddenly become empty shells. We have gone from a contained office, to a network of people, facilities, documents and ideas. We have gone from a contained structure to a network, where people operate from a multitude of contexts. We now have to operate in a network on contexts. The workplace has become the WorkNet. To read more about how Covid-19 is transforming our offices and our companies, read here our previous article.
The new workplace is a network of contexts, that we call the WorkNet.
In the new WorkNet, interactions become more important that ever. The key question therefore becomes: how do you foster the interactions of your employees in a network of contexts?
At AKKA, we believe that interactions are the seeds of innovation. And so our vision focuses on fostering interactions to drive innovation.
In essence, we focus on helping organisations innovate – whether it is to stay ahead of the war on talent, or to stay ahead of the war on the Coronavirus – by looking at the resource that is their physical environment. Since the seeds of innovation are interactions, we facilitate the right interactions. Fostering interaction, is not about dictating them, but rather about facilitating them. Facilitating interactions is done by creating the contexts where interactions emerge.
Until recently, the context has been the office. That included a new built headquarters, the renovation of an existing building as well as the redesign of an inhabited office. However, since the pandemic hit, the context has expanded to include people’s homes. It now also includes redesigning the workplace to adapt to the 1.5 meters economy. And soon, I predict, it will start to include the 3rd place. As we start to go back to the office, it is very likely that we will have to obey strict regulations. One of which is the 1.5m distancing between people which means that not all employees will be allowed into the office at the same time. So on the days they are not allowed in the office, employees will soon want a 3rd place that is not home. Whether that is a cafe, the library, new forms of coworking spaces or even a new typology that has not emerged yet.
Your WorkNet is a strategic tool that can boost well-being, drive innovation and support the growth of your organisation and its people.
The three stages of recovery
Before Covid-19, most of us used to work in the office (mostly). When Covid-19 hit, we saw an exodus from the office to our homes. After the initial shock, there are three stages of recovery that we can observe.
Stage 1: Our homes need to be redefined. Now that we have to work, live, sleep, educate our children and relax all in the same place, our homes have acquired new meaning and our relationship to our homes is being redefined. This is happening whether we like it or not. It would be much better if we redefined our homes intentionally. Read this three-part article for specific advise regarding how to redefine your home and help your employees do the same.
Stage 2: Soon (we hope), we will be allowed to go back to work. However, nothing will be the same as before. First of all, going back to work will not mean not working from home anymore, we will need to embrace both. Second, going back to work will not mean we are going back to the same office we left. The office will need to be redesigned to adapt to the new restrictions and guidelines of the 1.5m economy, so employees can go back to work safely. Read this article about how to adapt your workplace to the 1.5m economy and why it is crucial to do so now, with no further delay.
Stage 3: I personally predict that after stages 1 and 2, and once the travel restrictions have loosened a little bit, some people will get tired of having to work from home on the days they are not part of the “50% of the workforce that is allowed in the office”1. They will start searching for a 3rd place to work from. Whether that is a cafe, a library or a co-working space, none of them will be as we have known them. All of these locations will have to be redefined and redesigned.
So the question is, how can you as a workplace professional,
- Foster the interactions of employees at home?
- Adapt your workplace to the 1.5m economy?
- Support employees in the 3rd places?
Really? You may ask. Yes. Now that working from outside the office is an imposed company measure, rather than an employee’s choice, your scope and role as an HR manager, a Facility manager or even a Corporate Real Estate manager has expanded.
The future of work is working in a network of contexts. The Workplace is now the WorkNet. Your WorkNet is now your most valuable asset. How will you use your WorkNET is a strategic tool to support, engage and nurture your employees going forward?
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”2. Over 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?”.
The future of work is working in a network of contexts. The Workplace is now the WorkNet. Your WorkNet is now your most valuable asset. Your WorkNet is a strategic tool to support your employees health and wellbeing, and boost the entire organisation. It is an opportunity to elevate the entire company and all its people. A well designed workNet can nurture the well-being of people and the success of the entire organisation going forward.
There is no question that we are going through a global transition. During any transition, there are only three types of people, those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who say ‘What happened?’ Which one will you be?
To find out how optimising your workplace these difficult days in order to increase employees interactions and keep them engaged, download here the book The Power of Interactions.