Seeing a New Hybrid Workplace Requires New Lenses

By June 28, 2021Teams
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Seven Lenses to See How Everyday Work is Changing – A Series

A year ago, we couldn’t have imagined how it would all play out. We knew work would never be the same and there wouldn’t be a going back to “normal”, but no one really knew where we’d be in summer 2021. The pandemic changed us, stopped us in our tracks and as a result, made us see everything differently, especially how we work. What does the new hybrid workplace look like through new lenses?

Most of our clients are preparing for some kind of “back to work,” hybrid workplace edition starting between now and the early Fall. Figuring it all out isn’t easy, none of it has been easy. Employees are experiencing a wide range of feelings (from gratitude to anxiety) about the new workplace as our communities are getting safer in the U.S. Also, we’re seeing clients hiring new employees to fuel their growth. How do we create hybrid workplaces where current and future employees want to be? 

A Fresh Pair of Specs

The best visual we can come up with is that we need new glasses. We need to ditch the old ways of looking at and understanding how we worked, and put on a fresh pair of specs that allow us to see differently. Now we need to figure out a way to integrate the learning of the last year by knowing the needs of our teams now and the needs of our slices of the world as we move ahead. We can’t unsee the last year and a half and trying to go back to what things were is a recipe for failure.

Here are the big questions being asked by leaders as they try to predict a “next normal”

  1. How can we reopen the office in a way that is safe and comfortable? 
  2. Can we be a truly hybrid workplace? 
  3. How do we maintain or shift our culture post- pandemic? 
  4. What can we do to attract and retain the right people for our growth?  
  5. How are we going to handle ongoing uncertainty and change?
  6. What skills do our leaders need now? 

To successfully embark on your next normal at work, we think the best place to start is with seven new lenses to see and understand your work and teams. 

We all need to see 1. leadership, 2. inclusion, 3. well-being, 4. work structure, 5. employee experience, 6. change, and 7. technology in brand new ways.

In this series in the coming weeks, we’ll share more about these seven lenses leaders need, to successfully lead forward. We’ll also share some simple strategies we’re finding most effective, as we work with leaders and teams across industries to design their next normal.

1 – Leadership

Through the New Lens:
  • Invite many voices in decision making
  • Embrace an agile/entrepreneurial “change can start anywhere” model of “doing, learning, pivoting”
  • See everything through the lens of values and purpose. Make sure values and purpose are at the root of all decisions and behaviors. 
  • Make empathetic conversations a part of 1:1’s 
Through the Old Lens:
  • Making decisions alone
  • Top-down change to “roll out”
  • Gatekeeping information
  • Measuring how many hours spent working

2 – Inclusion

Through the New Lens:
  • Create conditions for belonging; Psychological safety
  • Micro- practices  of inclusion; the small ways we invite and include each other every day 
  • Business model integration of inclusion
  • Embrace, celebrate, and support difference
  • Employees know what diversity and inclusion mean, and have frequent conversations about what’s working and what can change
  • Equal opportunities for promotion and recognition
Through the Old Lens:
  • Adopting diversity and inclusion practices to comply with employment laws and policies
  • Unconscious bias training is enough
  • Encourage conformity
  • Stick to tradition in recognizing and promoting people

3 – Well-being

Through the New Lens:
Through the Old Lens:
  • Biometrics-only focused wellness (counting steps = well-being)
  • Life designed around work
  • Fun focused amenities people don’t or won’t use (ping-pong tables + slides)
  • Brick and mortar health appointments

4 – Work structure

Through the New Lens:
  • Clarity of work: What is best done in person and what is best done remotely?
  • Technology to support work tracking no matter where it’s done
  • Key structures to communicate from wherever you are
  • Learning mindset; experiment your way forward
Through the Old Lens:
  • I have to see people to trust they’re doing a good job
  • I can’t get good work done without hallway conversations
  • We can’t have teamwork if we’re not in the same place
  • Stick with what we know works, we’ve tried everything already
  • Designing work processes that assume people are in the office together 

5 – Employee Experience

Through the New Lens:
  • We can design work around our lives
  • We welcome everyone to work as a whole person
  • Someone’s experience starts before day 1 and ends well after they leave (onboarding through alumni)
  • Focus on building a meaningful work experience
Through the Old Lens:
  • We design life around our work
  • Leave your “home life” at the door when you come to work
  • Your time with us starts on day 1 and ends when you leave
  • Work is a place to get your job done, they call it “work” for a reason

6 – Change

Through the New Lens:
  • Change is dynamic and ongoing
  • It can start anywhere with anyone
  • Change happens when we try, learn, pivot our way forward
  • People embrace change when the intentions are right
Through the Old Lens:
  • Change happens from the top down with a “burning platform” to create urgency
  • It has a beginning and an end
  • Change works if we just keep people “accountable”
  • People resist change

7 – Technology

Through the New Lens:
  • Technology gets designed around people
  • Technology supports us best when we make agreements about how to use it
  • People welcome chances to test out new technology
  • Technology integration is key to keeping us working in synch virtually
Through the Old Lens:
  • People should figure out how work around our tech
  • Band-aid approaches to technology
  • Tech roll-outs, change management-style
  • People resist technology

We’re all shifting perspectives as we look ahead. What’s the one common denominator fueling these new lenses? Work is becoming more human, more connected to how our bodies and minds actually work. Technology is shifting to support us instead of replace us. We need to be constantly testing out what working “together” means, even as we’re not in the same place. Tune in as we break each of these lenses down and if you’re seeing things at work with fresh eyes, share with us so we can keep learning together.

Whether you’re looking through a new lens or you’re trying to figure out ways to help your team through this transition to a hybrid workplace, book a call to learn more and discuss how we can help.

Jen Margolis

About Jen Margolis

My passion is helping people find and use their strengths to move toward their biggest vision. My career began as a community organizer with refugees and grew to designing and facilitating programs for international professionals including grassroots women leaders in Egypt. These experiences led me to management consulting focusing on strategic planning, leadership development, community and education based program development and executive coaching.

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