Our weekly discussion last week with leaders in the Future of Work and open talent ecosystem was powerful and open. We first addressed some of the issues surrounding our individual mental wellness and connectivity. Carin Knoop, from Harvard Business School has been conducting a bunch of research lately, “We may all come out of the COVID-19 experience with some form of PTSD and loneliness and burnout, all of which are things that we used to address or face or handle on our own, but with no outlets in the form of gyms or faith groups or other sources of relief or comfort, a lot of the healing and handling has to be done online.”
Ray Foote, an Executive Coach, conducted an exercise encouraging all of us to think about “who” we are in different situations instead of “what” I would do.
This framing helped the group connect in a much deeper way and got us ready to discuss the topic at hand; What are organizations abandoning since COVID-19 and what will they not continue to do once things return to “normal?” We heard from a few of the brightest minds to help us answer the question.
Chris Stanton, Harvard Business School
Reacting to new challenges versus long-term planning is a good way to think about some of the practices we’re seeing. Companies are retrospectively looking back already and assessing what they had to do to make it through to the next day and are now thinking about being more thoughtful and planning better for the future.
Geordie Pearson, Falfurrias Capital Partners
What we’ve seen is that companies are struggling to maintain their culture, and keep their teams engaged and in high spirits given what’s going on. This has placed a lot of emphasis on the fact that, in the long-term, there’s a need for better commitment to culture than we had in the past and becoming more employee-focused. This can take the form of better commitments to safety, cleanliness, etc. even if that comes with some detriment to productivity levels.
Jeff Carbuck, 10EQS
The move to online for us has actually led to a lot more personal conversations. People are doing things they never had time to do before. Connecting online and talking– because there is no other outlet for anyone – has inspired more personal connections and dialogues and we see that continuing into the future. This can make a big difference over time. It won’t show up in sales numbers or productivity metrics right away but in terms of people’s health and well-being over time, it will have a big impact, so we must focus on these dimensions. Small is the new big!
Chris Jerard, Inkwell
We help individuals become micro media companies to create a big media footprint. In this environment with advertising shutting down, it is challenging, but we went back to each client to have human conversations with respect to the challenges they are facing and how we can help to solve new problems that have come up. Simply put, using very simple yet very human connections, we can have this amazing reach and immense power despite our smaller organization size.
Simon Chen, Communitech Canada
We have a cross-sectional coalition of companies and organizations, some public, some private, and some academic, so what we see with our clients is reflective of what is happening to a lot of companies across the board.
With the move to remote, we noticed two things:
The first had to do with changes to employee experiences, and the other had to do with changes to how people approach the customer, i.e. a business model shift.
For one, there is the on-demand model. CFOs need to reduce expenses, the costs of space, and implement more flexible workforce models, so companies are thinking about how to do things in a more on-demand way. It can involve having full-time employees but expanding and contracting based on the situation and moving quickly and nimbly. A workshare approach can work, as can a ‘tiger team’ approach for select projects.
Mark Barden, eatbigfish
Emotionally, what’s happening to people is that, post any crisis, there’s a surge of heroic work, and we are in a honeymoon period where we are all clearly enjoying this remote work, being productive and connecting in new ways. But, what happens when we go into the plunge and fall into despair asking how much longer will this be?
We can be productive, but when we are with people there are a lot of subtle things that we miss when we work online, such as body language, tone, and other things that leave us without an intuitive sense of how well or how badly things are going.
From the 30,000-foot view to the 3-foot view, consider working couples at home. In the absence of a defined work-life demarcation, people who used to go to work as a refuge from home or came home as a refuge from work, that is no longer there. In the absence of that separation, there is no break, it is all life that is happening, but our homes were never designed for us to be inside so much without leaving. The impact on mental health, of not having some sense of boxes where we used to comfortably live our lives because it is now one huge box can be really rough, so we need to explore this lack of separation and what that is doing to families and colleagues and companies as a result.
Paul Estes, Staffing.com
I have three takeaways to share.
1. In moving to remote work, you have to change the way you work. It cannot be incessant work all the time. You need to block out time for the things for which you need to block out time.
2. We’re seeing significant growth in demand for all of these software solutions that are designed to be remote-first or for collaboration. People need to learn and understand these technologies and we need to train ourselves from a tech perspective in this new world.
3. Certain things are here to stay, such as telemedicine. At one local hospital, it was run as a pilot, but now it has been institutionalized and is the way service will be provisioned going forward. The same can be said about PTA meetings and many other settings.