WORK 3.0 - The Transition to More Meaningful Post-Pandemic Work 



WORK 3.0.

Not Work 2.0 – that was the scrambling and experimenting, adrenaline-fueled productivity, and Zoom fatigue of the pandemic.

I hope that Work 3.0 will be a well-planned, evidence-based transition to better, more human, more productive, more meaningful post-pandemic work. 

Yes, we are still struggling with another wave of the pandemic, but there is a promise of the vaccine – and workplace and organizational psychology experts are looking to the future of work and wondering how lessons learned in 2020 can help us create better work, better organizations.

Work 1.0. And Work 2.0. Brought Disengagement And Burnout.

We know that rebuilding the world of work after the pandemic will be quite the task. That task is also an opportunity to build on the best of what research and practical experience have to offer. We learned from the pre-pandemic workplace – about many things that don’t work and cause employee disengagement. We learned from the pandemic scrambling, brief productivity high, followed by the burnout low - about many things that can and need to be changed.

WORK 3.0. will need to balance the need for productivity with health and safety, the need to create and reinvent with fighting the effects of stress and fatigue on mental health. And we will need to be honest with ourselves and transparent with the world in our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. This is the only way we can support Talent 3.0 - holistically and inclusively.

Expert Advice for Better Work

Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology contributes a unique body of knowledge to creating this new world of better work. It informs and supports the rebuilding for both a stronger economy and for more human-centered, responsible, and emotionally intelligent workplaces.

I invited several international experts from the UK, US, Canada, and Germany, to share their suggestions for how the research and practice of psychology applied to work can help create a better post-pandemic workplace. One of the key themes that emerged in responses was the need to take better care of employee mental and physical health - to take better care of the whole human being. The future is human – and we should dignify the totality of a human being through appreciation, meaningful work, and enabling and empowering leadership.

Rebuilding for a better world will come from the human mind, its creativity and innovation. We should support and nurture our minds, and the whole human, by addressing stress in the workplace and developing human-centered leadership. 

Preventing and Addressing Burnout

Christina Guthier, Ph.D., a consultant based in Düsseldorf, Germany, a burnout and recovery expert, is the first author of the recent meta-analysis on differentiating between stress and burnout. Dr. Guthier points out the importance of understanding “exhaustion, which seems to be our shared experience during the pandemic. Exhaustion can be the starting point for developing burnout. I/O psychology research shows how to prevent burnout and how to create healthier work environments using appreciation and support.”

The focus on appreciating and supporting humans is here to stay – and will likely increase. While there are fears that technology will take over the world, most experts agree that although tech will be increasingly integrated into how we work, humans, our minds and our creativity, will be not less, but more important in the post-pandemic world - the world of Talent 3.0.

Caring for Humans in The World of Technology

Susannah Chambers, Agile Team Coach for a major UK high street retailer, focuses on the importance of humans in the world of technology - because however helpful videoconferencing and other technology can be, we need to focus on the importance of the human brain. “Our research and practice will help shape the post-pandemic world of work because in global ‘technologization’ of most day-to-day human interactions we have specialist insight into that which is fundamentally required to maintain the human face and workings of organizations. That is, our brains. Not hard-drives. Not video call platforms. But people. And, moreover, we have the potential to provide value through a unique understanding that humans and technology need not be mutually exclusive but in fact complementary.”

Supporting Creativity

The theme of the importance of the human mind is echoed by Maren Gube, Ph.D., a creativity expert based in Montreal, Canada. Dr. Gube stresses that "creativity (which is the fuel of innovation) has never been more necessary for business - and humanity's - survival… We can help people make the connection between workplace culture and innovation. Perhaps more importantly, we can help leaders actually design organizations where teams can engage in fearless collaborative creativity, rather than retreating to silent silos.”

The idea of change in the role of leaders and leadership was a common thread in the experts’ comments. In fact, all the priorities above can only be accomplished with new approaches to leadership.  

Developing New Leadership

David Lancefield, London-based coach, consultant, and HBR contributor, predicted that “leaders will finally recognize that the ability to harness the best of their people is critical capability - not a nice to have. It means redefining their role as one of an enabler, curator and convener - a substantial shift from the hero style of the leadership that has dominated corporate life for years.”

Originally posted on LinkedIn.


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