Where the future of work is concerned, there is a tendency to speak as though we have already arrived at our destination, or that we are mere passengers on the journey, with little influence over our trajectory. Neither are true, both assumptions disempower organisations and the individuals who comprise them. The position we find ourselves in as we begin to emerge from the shadow cast by the pandemic presents a rare and exciting opportunity.
It is possible now, to be agents of change and exert influence that will guide how we work for years to come. It is the organisations at the forefront of their industries, those who push the boundaries of organisational culture that will be looked at to determine the shape the future of work is taking. This bears reflecting on, the future is not prescribed, it is shaped through rigorous planning and informed actions.
Change as a Process
Many organisations will have found themselves operating entirely or partially remote over the last year, there are decisions to be made on the extent to which this will remain the case. It is how an organisation arrives at those decisions that will shape the culture moving forward. The means through which choices are made and communicated will play a major role in the success of any model, whether that be fully remote, on-site, or hybrid.
Amongst Ireland’s Best Workplaces, an average of 75% of employees agree that: Management involves people in decisions that affect their jobs or work environment.
Amongst Ireland’s Best Workplaces, an average of 81% of employees agree that: Management genuinely seeks and responds to suggestions and ideas.
From the data above, drawn from the combined responses of tens of thousands of employees, it is clear that a Great Workplace is one where employees are given a voice and opportunities to shape their environment. Of course, it is not possible to involve employees in every decision, leaders will always need to make choices that guide the direction of the business, but on this issue in particular, it is beneficial to draw on the perspectives of staff members.
Questions for Organisations
When restrictions end, will you continue to facilitate remote working?
If so, what will be the role of the office in your way of working?
How did you arrive at those decisions?
Have you integrated lessons learnt from the last year into your plans?
If so, where did you draw those insights from?
Communication is Key
The time is fast approaching where answers to the questions posed above will be needed. Let us not wait and see what others are doing, it is Great Workplaces that will set the standard here. Engage with employees, as you always have, to determine what will work for your organisation. Leverage those tried and tested communication tools to arrive at a decision as a group.
Solutions for Organisations
Communicate your intention to develop future working arrangements
Hold focus groups to understand the associated challenges and opportunities
Draw on survey data to understand the areas to focus on and develop actions plans
In a hybrid model, collaborate to determine reasons for coming together on-site
Trust that suggestions from employees are genuine, valuable, and well-intentioned
Naturally, it is first and foremost necessary to continue to deliver for customers, clients, and external stakeholders. Ensuring continuity of service in this area will always be a priority, but there is much room for flexibility when this is occurring. Work in conjunction with your employees to shape your shared future, your customers will surely feel the benefits of an empowered, engaged workforce.
For our part at Great Place to Work, we will be with you every step of the way. This is very much a shared journey for us, and we will be here to offer guidance and support through our consultations, publications, and webinars. Our role will be to leverage this brand to shine a spotlight on organisations that continue to create Great Workplaces, whatever form they take.