Organisation Development, (OD) Consultant
Writing feels refreshing and freeing. Re-entry from a significant time in our global history is creating many opportunities to redefine our collective paths, expectations of our chosen work and associated societal norms. Our insights come with huge responsibilities.
As COVID-19 is spreading rapidly and affecting every facet of our lives, we have slowed down and started to ask serious questions of ourselves, our work and everything else that is interconnected to our daily lives. There has been little consideration for the biggest existential crisis to face humanity in modern times, though. We need to dialogue and process this much more. Having tracked my own, my clients’ and our collectives’ experiences, I realise we face a fresh start and re-entry into the world of work. Without predicting the future, I do believe that we have an opportunity to embrace uncertainty and figure out what these pathways might look like for us and our work. We need to let go of our many assumptions and biases in the process too and work with ‘what is’ and with measured pace, day to day.
Working from home produced mixed reactions. We have valued the flexibility, ownership, responsibility for an output-based system and a certain happiness from the productive experience. As a polarity, we have been frustrated, conflicted, confined, over-worked, lonely and burdened by the demands of working remotely. As social beings, our need for in-person connection and relationship is difficult to suddenly replace, and hybrid-type work arrangements will emerge in our changed context. Our drivers will be our individual needs and organisational requirements, with a healthy tension.
Teams have become closer and deeper in their relationships collectively. This is attributed to the unwritten invitation into a more intimate context of an individual’s life (through the working from home lens). This has resulted in getting to know colleagues in a much more personal way, which has increased the effectiveness of teams in ways never experienced before. When teams do return to the physical workplace, we will need to robustly process and make sense of our journey, redraw our boundaries, and determine how we work going forward.
From a leadership perspective, leaders that have excelled during this time have demonstrated a more vulnerable approach. This includes the ability to show courage and be empathetic, more collaborative, authentic, grateful and trusting co-working ‘adults’ in order to simply get on with our work.
To sustain ourselves through these times at a deep emotional level, I encourage you to think through the lenses of individual, team, leadership and total organisation as you recalibrate your approach to your business or role in your organisation. This will undoubtedly fuel a sustainable business future for the world. There is no going back.
Here are some recalibration questions to ask yourself to make sense of the times:
- What has gone well for me during this time?
- What has challenged me during this time?
- What have I learned about myself, my team, my leadership?
- What am I letting go of and why?
- What am I holding onto and why?
- What preferences have emerged for me for my work?
- How do I approach my ‘fresh start’ and ‘re-entry’ and commission the right conversations for our collective learning and fitness for a changed world of work?