I could tell a little white lie and tell you that I’m back to work, but that I’m posting this from my ‘remote work’ location for the week.

And whilst it is not entirely false (fellow Small Business owners will know you never entirely stop working) it is also not really true. Rather, I’m still enjoying a healthy dose of sun, sea and surf in the old home state of Tassie.

[PSA: beware the power in the Tassie sun. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking just because it’s only 20 degrees, you can’t get sunburnt. You can, and you will if you forgo the sunscreen. Largest hole in the ozone layer just over us and all that].

So whilst I’m busy (safely) soaking up as many cosmics as I can before heading officially back to the office next week, I’m also doing a far spot of planning for the coming year. I mean, if you going to do planning, why wouldn’t you do it with this as your view.

Actual photo of view from my laptop as I post this blog

Speaking of planning, how is your planning going?

Have you started to think about the year ahead, particularly how healthy the culture of your workplace is?

Do you have a deliberately designed plan to set you and your people up for success in this new year?

2020 taught us many things, both from a personal and organisational perspective.

Some of the things we learned employees crave from their leaders are:

  • Clearly and honestly tell us how the company is placed to withstand the economic pressure.
  • Share regularly what is going on. The good and the bad news.
  • Tell us if our job is secure. If not, be kind and compassionate when you let us go.
  • Be crystal clear on what the business priorities are and break it down, so each employee understands what they need to do to help meet those priorities.
  • Recognise we are all anxious about the future. ‘All change is real, all change is personal’. Which means, the message the Executive need to share about what is happening and why cannot just be delivered in high level terms. Tell people how the changes will affect them personally. Otherwise, anxiety will spike as people imagine the worse scenario which may be vastly different to the reality.
  • Continue to be compassionate about how team members might be feeling and display empathy. Some employees will be keen to get back to the workplace and interact with their colleagues; others will be fearful of returning and the risks to their health. Understand their will be different feelings and don’t ignore those concerns which don’t align to your decisions. Which means you need to…
  • …Listen to how we are feeling. Ask us how we are feeling, and if there is anything troubling us. Acknowledge what we tell you, even if it is not what you wanted to hear. If you can’t deliver on what we have told you we want or need, then be upfront that you can’t deliver and tell us why. This is as crucial as asking us how we feel.
  • Ensure workplace wellbeing is a key ONGOING strategic priority.
  • Know us and care for us. You have had a unique opportunity to ‘see’ more of the real us in 2020, as we have invited you into our homes for those zoom meetings. Don’t forget about the whole person as we start to transition back to the office. [Dot points an excerpt from Linked In Article What type of leader do we need now and into 2021?]

Cultural Challenges facing workplaces currently

As organisations slowly started to trickle back to the office towards the end of last year, one of the biggest issues became the anxiety of some staff to physically return to the office.

We all know that extroverts like yours truly thrive on social connection. In fact, we need it as much as we need air to breathe. It is part of what defines us as extroverts – we gain energy from being around others.

For my fellow extroverts, the question to return to the physical office is a no-brainer. In fact we are more likely to be getting anxious about why it hasn’t happened yet, rather than concerned that it will.

Even if we have started to enjoy some of the aspects of working from home (hello, reduced travel time and saving truckloads of money on café bought food) and want to retain the ability to spend some time working from home; we still want to do what many organisations like Seek are doing.

Only asking employees to come into the office for meetings or social purposes. In other words, for connection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For others however, the idea of returning to the office creates all kinds of anxiety. And not just for introverts. I recently heard a tale of a HR manager at a large well known health insurance agency who decided to resign rather than return to the physical office as she was required to do.

This HR Manager is not an island. I have heard numerous similar tales.

Another risk for workplace culture in 2021 is that as we return to the office in staggered numbers across different days and times of the week, the culture is yet again at risk.

First there was a risk to existing culture when remote working was forced on us by the Rona.

The new risk is that different pockets of culture will develop, particularly if members of the same team are not all in the office at the same time and/or if some members of the team remain working remotely whilst the rest of the team are physically together.

In a nutshell, I truly hope you are making the most of your holidays. Or did, if your holidays are over as of today.

But I just as fervently hope you have given some attention to the question how best to set your organisation’s culture up for the challenges of this new year.

Workology Co is here to help

Workology Co has some exciting projects kicking off once we return to work next week, for organisations doing just that. Taking the time to look at where they are now and what they need to do to meet the challenges ahead.

We also have a handful of slots left if you would like to prioritise your people and your culture in order to thrive.

If you would like to book a free 30-minute discovery call to chat about how we can help you do this, click here.

For information about our cultural audits, click here.

Now if you will excuse me, I’ve got to go and work on Workology Co’s team culture.  Which for the rest of this week means working on the team SUP’ing skills. Ideally so neither of us falls in the water. Too many times.