When we toasted the new year on New Year’s Eve in 2019, no one could have predicted how 2020 would turn out, well maybe the Chinese as Covid started in December 2019 in Wuhan. In the meantime, a new year has started and there is a massive desire to return to more freedom and conviviality. Yet, to be on the positive side, 2020 has not only brought bad things. Especially the way of working has changed for many people: which lessons can be learned from last Corona year and are we taking into the new year?
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Working from home remains
The first one is a piece of cake: working from home has become more commonplace. And it is predicted that 48 percent of employees worldwide in the post-corona era will work from home for several days per week or completely remotely.
Western Europe was already the champion of working from home and the corona crisis has proven that this does not cause any problems for most office jobs. The experiences of both employers and employees are largely positive: many people do not want to return to the office full-time after corona, 68 percent enjoy working from the home office. The degree to which we feel at home in the team has also increased at 14 percent.
Less business travel
The result of all the work from home is that office spaces are partly canceled, some companies have already diminished office space. More use will also be made of hubs, where work can be done on a project basis, and companies – because we are less tied to a location – will have a global talent pool at their disposal. And catching a plane for a conference or business deal is also less common. In general, meetings take place remotely which might save a lot of money for companies, but they still remain the second best option. Personal contact, like shaking hands, looking each other in the eyes and reading body language, remains the best option. Anyway, less travel, means a cleaner environment.
Looking more closely at each other
But the biggest change is perhaps that we have been looking more closely at each other since corona. Through this whole situation, we have learned that we are flesh and blood people and not a production factor that you can turn on and off. People were insignificant, but they could get sick and now we know that our happiness is not that manageable.
We have moved from ego-thinking to eco-thinking. There is a realization: man is fragile and dependent on nature, but at the same time we are all powerful. The adage during corona was: together we get corona under control. That is very strong.
Organizations consist of people!
The realization that we depend on each other is also growing within organizations. An organization is also an ecosystem. It depends on individuals and the relationships between those individuals. It is very important for managers to take this aspect into account for the future. You do not function on your own, but you are dependent. Others can bother you, but also help you move forward and take you to a higher level.
As an example we can look at the company Netflix, which works from the “keeper test principle“. It is all about humanity and thinking: what does my colleague need to function optimally? That principle is now taking flight in organizations and requires managers to be relational leaders: you function in relation to others. It won’t work on your own.
Managing working from home
That is also the big challenge when work is largely done remotely. It is important to manage working from home. You have to keep the connection in the team. Therefore, use the techniques available to stay in touch with each other, to inspire each other, to cheer up and to listen to each other. Buddy systems, in which employees are linked in pairs or threes to maintain mutual contact, also work well.
There are people who get disconnected by working from home. These times require a different way of leadership. We should train managers in this and give tips on what questions they can ask their team. They should also be very committed to informal gatherings online. Virtual coffee moments, where work is not discussed and there is time to discuss how things are going.
More attention for people analytics
More use will also be made of people analytics to map out what the needs of employees are, i.e. measuring data from employees about, for example, leave, absenteeism and turnover. 70 percent of organizations already map data on employee satisfaction and engagement.
What you are often confronted with as a company is that the data is not sufficient. Some struggled with this for a long time, but now many are on a gold mine. We can see: what competencies do we have in house, how can we distribute them across the different countries, which ones do we still need and what do employees need to reach a certain position? This allows us to work proactively.
When using data, it is important that the data is not just looked at, but that it starts with a question. Data never speaks for itself, it is not wisdom. It is raw material that you then have to work with to really get something out of it. If you want to use data, you need a picture of where the organization wants to go. That big dream, that purpose, must stand out like a rocket. Analyzing the data can then be a means to achieve that goal.
Social role of companies is becoming more important
Having a dream will be the challenge of the future for organizations, according to experts. Especially now that a lot of work is done remotely, meaningful working is important. Meaningful working creates a bond with the company. For example, when a company transformed a factory in another country to produce a different product, everyone was proud and thought, I’m glad to be working for this company.
The need to work for a company that has a goal in mind is partly due to corona, but also due to the generation that is now entering the labor market. It has different requirements. Imagination, that is more and more important in the future. For example, someone like Elon Musk has that. The great thing is: imagination never runs out and is not for sale. That is why it has an unprecedented value. For the future of organizations, but also on a large scale for the future of humanity.
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