As things begin to open up post-Covid, what’s the new work landscape going to look like?
In the past, work and non-work discussions didn’t mix much.
The pandemic changed that.
It’s raised the question of life-work balance in a whole new ways.
Expectations have changed.
Companies will have to create arrangements that serve both individual needs and organizational goals in a way that they didn’t have to in the past.
Topics like health-risks, mental health issues, childcare, spouse and other family challenges are all on the table.
Most businesses thought that to succeed, its employees needed to come to an office. Leaders are realizing that’s probably because it’s how it was always done… not necessarily because it was the best way.
How do you best lead your organization through this new territory?
I share a few ideas from a psychological safety perspective:
Walk the Talk You can’t demand that employees share personal details of their life. But you can create the space where it’s safe to do so.
Start with sharing your own WFH/hybrid work personal challenges. What you’ve loved and what you haven’t. Be open about not having a clear plan and your state of thinking about the issue.
Share the Load Balancing organizational and individual needs isn’t something a leader can do alone. The whole team has to take responsibility and contribute to new ways of working effectively. Use this crisis as a catalyst for doing business better.
Frame the Issue as a Learning Problem There’s tremendous uncertainty ahead and we need everyone in the game. Explain to employees that ‘Without your honest input, I may miss something.’
Foster connection Rally employees behind a shared sense of purpose. “We’re all in this together, and we will get through it together” can build trust, grow loyalty and strengthen bonds in ways that can never be done in calmer times. Remind them to look out for one another.
Check In with Individuals Before meeting with everyone as a group, take time to talk to people individually. People may have behind-the scenes issues that affect how they want to work. They may not be ready to share those publicly, yet it’s important information that affects making a good decision.
Watch for Pressure to Conform Well meaning employees can make innocent comments that cause others stress. Things like ‘we miss you’ or ‘the team needs you’ can make people feel they’re letting others down. On the other hand, hearing that others have found a better work-life balance WFH can make those ready to return to work feel bad. Emphasize that there is no single right answer.
Work in Progress – This is new territory for most companies. Communicate that no one has all the answers or knows the best way forward. Together teams will have to pick a plan of action, see how it goes and have the space to speak up about what’s working and what’s not.
The most important thing is to be up front, on point and transparent about what we are doing and why. Otherwise the rumour mill takes over leaving devastation in its wake.