We help CEOs and Leadership Teams transform their business results through changes to strategy, leadership and culture.
We ran ‘Join Our Conversations’ from April to July which worked well to capture key issues as people experienced the lockdown during the COVID pandemic.
In early September we updated our understanding of what was on business leader’s minds in relation to how their businesses need to adapt further and longer-term.
We also captured our learning as we worked with clients on these issues, what worked and what is still needed.
Join us to hear how you can ‘Succeed in Hybrid world of work”.
Prediction of the next 12 months – a generally accepted view
There is no knowing exactly how the actual situation will play out in different countries, markets or organisations. However the consensus view we have heard is:
- We will not get back to using offices as the main place of business, we will have a significant level of remote working including from home. That means we will have to work out how to engage people we don’t meet, or who have never been to our corporate offices.
- Employees will have more choice in how they wish to live their lives. We will not be in a position to mandate who meets and who does not as individuals will join companies that do give them the flexibility they want.
- This will impact sales situations, the way people work with leaders, teams and our culture. It will drive changes to how we provide infrastructure such as IT, offices and social activities.
Practical challenges of making the “Hybrid world of work” work for us.
Leaders we spoke to are focused on how to make the new reality work for their business. They noted there is no script or place they can go to where others have already completed the journey. They are looking to have their thinking enriched, challenged and supported.
There are four linked areas on their minds:
- Adapting to new Employee expectations, engagement and the experience of people working in the business.
- Innovating ways and approaches to win new clients in a virtual way. How do we set up to meet people we have not met?
- Changing the employee proposition or segmenting our offer to those with different life needs and preferences.
- What changes are needed in me as a leader, where do I need to develop, what are the new traditions or culture I need to role model?
We have captured our learning as we worked with clients on these issues, what worked and what is still needed.
What to do about the offices?
Clients are trying to find a new pattern that allows for flexibility within a much-reduced office capacity, ideally reducing office spend in total.
One client has opted for all leadership and Management meeting to happen virtually as they are more efficient on set days. They have designated days for ensuring each team comes into the office on one day a week so there is quality interaction time. Individuals can elect to be in the office on other days if they wish. Another client has simply stopped use of the offices until 2021 or longer. Another is in an ‘encouragement’ phase enabling individuals to make the choice but asking them to experiment with using the reconfigured offices again.
Our coaching has been about working through the scenarios, checking how much is about the leader’s own mindset and assumptions, asking how they are going to listen to what employees want and think will work. How important are the offices to the processes, culture and ability to lead. What do you need to discover about leading remotely?
What can we do to maintain a great employee experience here?
Clients are debating how or whether to adapt the experience in a few different ways.
A new employee proposition, based on nearly 100% remote or WFH arrangement. Recognising some employees want to use the opportunity to make this a permanent life change, having a sustainable quality office alternative at home. This ‘package’ may come with reduced salary and benefits reflecting that choice. New ways to engage this cadre of employees are being innovated from use of local pods to meet locally to just continuing the much more regular webinars/townhalls. Issues about managing productivity, engagement, organisational culture need addressing in this model. Or do we invite them to become contractors with potential trade-off about loss of loyalty?
Do office-based people gain just by being around?
Many clients have younger employees who will be attracted by the increased interaction that working in an office brings, including the travel and meeting friends. So it appears there will be a cadre of people who use the office regularly, perhaps every day. The issue for leaders is how to counter the fact that these people will be more visible to them.
The frequent office visitor may be in a space between the two, do they get help with the home arrangements, but also require office infrastructure?
Other clients want to encourage people back to the office because proximity is an important part of the work, eg professional services projects and teams. Or is there a way to achieve that remotely?
How do we make the Hybrid work?
In conclusion it is clear to clients they will be leading a hybrid of these employees for a long time, probably for ever. The question is how as a leader do I need to adapt to that. What do I need to explore in myself? Am I aware of how my personal preferences, situation or career stage is influencing what I think is right?
What does this mean for how we sell and attract new clients?
This question implies different things for different markets.
In professional services the ability to meet new potential clients is critical. The current sales pipeline is biased towards sell-ons with existing clients. RFP’s will come in however if cold from a new client there is an immediate disadvantage compared to incumbent providers.
In more commoditised markets digital products sell well online and will need to compete hard for share of voice online.
Adapting the skill set of the sales team members to innovate with new approaches will be a key activity.
Coaching individuals and teams
It is clear that each organisation and leader needs to work out their approach. To do this we bring parallels and examples from other situations to widen, challenge and support their thinking.
The typical pattern, all online, looks like:
- 1:1 coaching session to crystalise the thinking and the main questions
- Team session to work through the thinking ensuring all voices are heard
- Agree the key principles that will work for this business or team
- Agree the common ‘planks’ of the new arrangements that all leaders need to use
- Agree the timeframe for experimentation, feedback and reapplication
- 1:1 coaching for individuals to work out how they will apply the principles
- Employee focus groups to be flexible to the actual experience and changing needs.
We are currently applying this approach in:
- FMCG global business at country level
- Consultancy business
- Software sales business
- With HR, Sales teams, leadership teams and individual leaders
We will shortly be announcing the dates for our Autumn conversations.