For 15 months I've been documenting the ever-evolving workforce experience via this blog (and others). We've been through a hundred different layers contrasting hope and uncertainty. There are those who have found positivity in solitude while others have been chomping at the bit to get back to seeing other humans IRL (in real life). The time of emergence (at least for now) is upon us.
The pandemic has raised an interesting cross-section of organizations embracing social issues while individuals overlapped the personal with the professional. Has the work-from-home conundrum taught us to synchronize individuality with collectivism or will we revert to cubicle farm cheese chasing?
We've toyed with a million turns of phrase to address employee engagement. Call it what you will, put technology in place, gather people in celebration (virtually or in-person), survey employees, action plan for success, focus group, mentor, train, innovate, succession plan, design path to promotion, hire more, fire less and the world will be a better place.... for you.... and me!
Employees are individuals and as an individual, you are called to action by one emotion: DESIRE
The aforementioned constructs are necessary, but if you can inspire desire, then we're heading somewhere refreshingly unique.
Tapping Into Individuality
We live in a time when individuals have social brands that are more prominent than those of the organizations for whom they work. CEOs are marching in the streets with their employees. Individuals are literally wearing their cause-driven ideologies into the office. There was a time when work was a place for organizational objectives and one's thoughts on social issues were foe paw in the conference room. Times have changed.
During the pandemic, we've met our co-workers (and customers) kids, pets and partners. Social feeds have been up all day between zoom calls. The formality that deemed people unprofessional if their dog barked on a conference call has been replaced with a hat tip to one's mental health.
What if we embraced people for who they are? If we allowed individuals to like what they like or don't like and left judgment aside. Maybe if we started the team meeting with some personal interaction we'd realize that the key to collective success is having a team of varied disciplines. If we stopped judging one another for who we are and concentrated on our contributions to the professional cause we might realize that everyone has value.
Recreating The Workplace
There is no certainty about the future of work. The learnings in the work-from-home experience have shown that people can be trusted and can actually get a lot done when working in their pajamas. Many of us are sick of sitting around nonetheless. We may have to shave, pick up our button-up gear from the dry cleaner and get back in the automobile. It's been nice to commute 15 steps to the laptop but I'd like to think everyone misses seeing their co-workers in the break room. Isn't it about time to get back to complaining about work at the local pub after 5pm aside co-workers?
We can take the best of both worlds and recreate our Employee Value Proposition.
The Harm of Negativity
In this time of uncertainty, we have to acknowledge a truth that has always been there: Complaints fill the megaphone of the unsuccessful.
The last year has been brutal.... for businesses, for families, for individual mental health. We do, however, need to put our big girl pants on and get back to work. Quotas will go up, workplace safety will provoke uncertainty, managers will need to retrain their leadership tactics and employees will have to find courage. The challenge of getting back to work will be nothing compared to what we've been through over the last 15 months.
We've installed technology to replace physical space, commuted less and given more love to the diverse employee population across the world. Now is the time to give back to the companies who helped us through the pandemic.
The Future is Here!
Originally published on Dave's Weekly Thought blog.