Recently read an article titled: "Get out of your pajamas; the pandemic is over." I thought to myself, even if the pandemic is over (and I am not sure it is quite yet). What is the aversion to considering support for remote and hybrid working environments? Proximity does not ensure productivity, and there is data suggesting some people are more productive working in remote and hybrid environments.
I have stated repeatedly that it all depends on the organization, the structure, and the work that it performs. Yes, there are times when people need to interact in person, but that shouldn't be the static rule, but perhaps the exception. "In a tight labor market, where there are 11 million open jobs, employers demanding a return to the office may find themselves short on the kind of diverse workers they all say they want to hire." (Semeuls Time, 2022)
"Leaders should embrace that same kind of curiosity — not only the why, but the trying and failing and testing of things. We should not only be asking questions but trying stuff all the time. There has never been a better time to alter the status quo and reframe the discussion around how we work and collaborate." (Walsh MIT Management Sloan School, 2022)
The more we can be forward-thinking in our approach to work, we can create more innovative environments for problem-solving that enrich collaboration, improve outcomes, and leads to more resilient and sustainable organizations. This is where leaders should focus their energy, engaging in discussions on new and creative ways to build thriving organizations that are agile, resilient, and sustainable.
The ability and willingness to embrace change will make it easier for organizations to set a vision that charts a new course and direction—maximizing all stakeholders' collective talents and efforts, to establish working relationships and protocols that are engaging, inclusive, and productive. But make it make sense, not for "how things have always been done" but for the way things can and need to be done today.
It's hard to chart a course for the unknowable, unknown, but that is where leaders make their mark-making the tough decisions that provide consistency, continuity, direction, and stability for the organization, its stakeholders, and shareholders. Ask your people, be open to suggestions, paint a clear picture of the expectations and build a business case to support them. "If you build it, they will come, and if you don't right, they will stay." People go where they are appreciated, respected, and valued.