Ahh, how we long for the blissful days of mid-March, 2020, when we were terrified that this whole pandemic thing could go on for weeks, maybe even months, before we snapped back to the old normal we used to complain about.
If anyone had accurately predicted in March what things would look like in December, we wouldn’t have believed them.
And yet, here we are.
The new normal has become just plain normal, and the unprecedented times are now, well… precedented.
Some of us have learned more in the last nine months than in the previous several years combined. Here’s a little of what I’ve learned about Employee Engagement in a remote and hybrid workspace. I’ll post more in the weeks to come. I hope you find it helpful.
- When it comes to Working from Anywhere (formerly known as Working from Home, but that is SO “April”!), the rabbit is out of the hat. People have been to the promised land. They have seen what’s on the other side of the river, and lots of them aren’t coming back. Pandemic or no pandemic, we are never getting all that toothpaste back into the tube. And so, for many, many jobs, the option to work remotely, all or part of the time, has become a new competitive distinction in the war for talent. If you don’t offer it, your workforce competition will. Do you really need any more of a headwind than you’ve got already?
- Some things are never coming back. But the aforementioned war for talent almost certainly is. It happened after 9/11. And again after the Great Recession. Modern economies have shown a remarkable drive for recovery, and while this crisis has no equal in modern history, the global economy has already performed better than expected. This, while the disease stats have been even worse than predicted. A Nov 3 article in Harvard Business Review explains why, and what we might expect moving forward.
When the battle for the hearts and minds of talented workers resurges in full force, you’d better be equipped to win, by developing a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce, irrespective of the workplace setting.
- Leaders must embrace Working from Anywhere – and not just tolerate it. There is NO, repeat NO benefit in creating yet another new underclass – remote workers, competing disadvantageously for clout, recognition, and development with those who choose to work where everyone used to.
While I was delivering a seminar on “Leading from a Distance” in October, one CEO in attendance declared that “After this is all over, If I’ve got one person who can’t be bothered to come into the office, and another one who does, the one who shows enough commitment to actually ‘come to work’ is going to get the promotion over the other one.”
Professional duty compelled me to point out that, first, these days, the choice of where one does their work may not be the best filter to put on the process of determining who can best serve the enterprise through their development. There are few better examples of an organization “cutting off its nose to spite its face.”
And second, whatever “this” is will never be fully over. And that has nothing to do with a pandemic. The sooner we get our collective heads around that, the better we’ll be able to compete. See item 1 above.
- More than one credible study reveals that a major drawback to remote and hybrid work settings today is a feeling of isolation and disengagement. If you still think that virtual happy hours are the cutting edge solution to this problem, you’ll love my next post on this blog, where I’ll share more than a dozen better ideas to keep colleagues connected. Subscribers to the blog feed will be notified when the post is published.
- Finally, while we’ve adapted remarkably in so many ways since March, no one has yet figured out what to do about kids, school, and parents working remotely. And “no one” includes me. But I will offer this: NEVER ask someone whose willing engagement you rely on to choose between their kids and their career. No matter how they choose…you will lose.