Smarter Working in the shadow of covid-19

Stuart Pearce, Director of Journey4, launches our mini series on the topic of Smarter Working.

The Coronavirus epidemic has forced companies to operate differently under the strict lockdown measures and after almost a year operating under these unprecedented conditions, UK business has learnt to adapt and change their business models. As the businesses prepare for a relaxation in lockdown restrictions and consider new ways of managing the process of work, we want to help organisations prepare for the best way to reinstate efficient and manageable working practices within which employees feel they can be effective, connected, and motivated.

We believe the learnings from this period can be used to help organisations transform future business models and harness some of the benefits of increased productivity, improved communication and enhanced employee well-being experienced through working from home. At the same time, we also need to address those things that have not worked so well, such as social interaction, feelings of isolation and some of the practical and technical issues of working remotely and using a domestic space for work.

Our ‘smarter working’ workshops identified key considerations for business leaders

Journey4 ran a series of workshops on the theme of ‘Smarter Working’ during the first lockdown and which involved representatives from 20 different businesses across 13 sectors. We have followed this with a series of webinars covering the core themes of leadership and culture, productivity, well-being and work life balance and we plan to run a webinar on the theme of communication in March.

This process identified some key considerations for business leaders:

  • One of the key findings of our ‘Smarter Working’ workshops is that everyone’s personal circumstances are different and that, therefore, businesses will need to adopt an employee-driven approach, rather than implementing one-size-fits-all solutions from the top down
  • Leaders will need to understand individual needs and circumstances and find flexible solutions that work for different segments of the employee population to maintain an engaged and productive workforce. The ‘Smarter Working’ sessions identified that there are a lot of complex, interconnected issues to be considered by business leaders and these would benefit from being evaluated on a structured basis
  • The best ideas about effective working arrangements often come from the employees themselves and therefore business leaders should have the confidence to ask their colleagues what they think will work best. This will also demonstrate to employees that they have a voice and are trusted to put forward their ideas
  • Rather than think that it is the role of business leaders to solve our colleagues working from home problems, we should allow a process to develop where leaders can discover what colleagues have found to be the best and worst aspects of working from home: how it has impacted their mental health; patterns of work and productivity; feelings of isolation; and being disconnected from their workmates. We also need to understand what successful coping mechanisms have been deployed and what employees feel is the best way to manage such working practices over the longer term.

We are now pleased to present a series of three blogs written by Stuart Pearce, Director of Journey4, considering the future of work and taking learnings from organisations, large and small, that have lived through the first year of Coronavirus. The blogs cover three interdependent themes around well-being and putting our people first, the recognition that the leaders need to develop new skills to thrive in the post Covid world and that engaging with your customer has never been so important;

  1. People First
  2. Adaptive Leadership
  3. Customer Engagement

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