For millions of office workers around the world, COVID-19 changed – perhaps forever – their concept of the workplace. The pandemic transformed when, where, and how we work – with social distancing, more people working from home, online meetings, and virtual collaboration. The future workplace will never be the same.

Are You Ready for the Post-Pandemic Workplace?

Smart leaders and savvy organisations will use this opportunity to build a better workplace – with more flexible work, greater collaboration, diverse teams, and better work-life integration. This creates the environment that attracts the smart, talented, savvy people with the skills you need for future-proofing your organisation – on the road to recovery and beyond.

Does your organisation and team have what it takes to create this kind of workplace? Make no mistake – it’s time to start planning now for the workplace of the future. And it all starts with your people.

Think of your workplace culture in these six categories:

In brief:

  • Resistant: They know the world has changed, but refuse to accept it, and actively resist the change, found every reason (some legitimate, others more dubious) why working it won’t work.
  • Reluctant: They aren’t actively resistant but are still reluctant to make the switch, and need to a lot of persuasion to step into this new environment.
  • Compliant: They accept that their world has changed, but just do what they’re told without taking any initiative.
  • Engaged: Now they’re willing to take some responsibility, and actively take initiative rather than just doing what they’re told.
  • Empowered: They see the change in a positive light, and use their judgement to make good decisions when circumstances change.
  • Inspired: They embrace the change, and truly believe the work they are doing is making a difference in the world.

If you were to honestly assess your own team and workplace, where do you think it would fit on this spectrum?

This 45-60 minute keynote (in-person or online) is one of Gihan’s most-booked presentations, and is particularly suitable for leadership groups. Use this for a high-impact opening keynote, an inspiring closing keynote, or the opening session the morning after the Gala Dinner.

Formats:

  • Online, as a three-module program, customised for your team
  • On site, as a half-day or full-day workshop at your premises
  • At an event, as a 60-90 minute breakout session or half-day masterclass

Formats:

  • Scenario Planning: On site or online, as a facilitated session to feed into your strategic planning
  • Futurist in Residence: Annual program for your leadership team

A New Vision for The Future of Work

In February 2020, a few weeks before the coronavirus put Australia into lockdown, I wrote a blog post, “Ready for the Flexible Work Revolution?”, and asked the then hypothetical question, “What if offices didn’t exist or were illegal?” I suggested we would face new challenges, such as less social interaction, lower quality of face-to-face interactions with video, and technology glitches with online meeting software.

I didn’t write that post with an impending global pandemic in mind, but a few weeks later the office did become illegal, and the things I suggested came true. The point of my blog post was to advance an idea that wasn’t new but also wasn’t common: that the office didn’t have to be the default workplace for knowledge workers.

The pandemic forced this idea on us, and for knowledge workers, the biggest workplace change was people working from home for the first time. To their surprise, both employers and employees found it more effective than expected – even in the middle of a global crisis.

As restrictions eased and offices became safe workplaces again, employers urged their people to return to the office, because that felt more familiar and comfortable. But it would be a pity to lose the opportunity to explore a broader view of the future workplace.

The office has only been the workplace of teams for 200 years, and only by necessity: You had to go there to find files, secretarial staff, and colleagues. But those needs no longer exist, so we can consider other workplaces as well.

There are three levels for the workplace of the future:

  1. Hybrid team: Many organisations will operate hybrid teams, with team members in more than one place – sometimes in the office and sometimes away from the office.
  2. Distributed team: Teams will include people who don’t live within commuting distance of the office, and could be working at different times.
  3. Fluid team: The best teams are assembled dynamically, with different people coming in and out as required for specific project needs.

Many leaders and managers don’t have much experience leading teams in such a disrupted, fast-changing world. This is true even if you’re an experienced leader – perhaps even especially if you’re an experienced leader. What used to work doesn’t work anymore, and you need new strategies to lead and manage effectively.

Just as an airline pilot needs different leadership skills than a ship’s captain, you need different skills to build a thriving culture in the best workplace of the future.

Andy Molinsky, a Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Brandeis International Business School, writes about change this way:

“Next time you’re in a situation that feels completely outside your comfort zone … consider it your opportunity to learn from your missteps and to bring forth a new perspective that others may not have.”

You might despair at the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment through which you must steer your team and organisation. But know this is the time when people are looking for real leadership, and it’s the time for real leaders stand up and lead the way.

Additional Resources