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Having Psychological Freedom is the real reason you don’t want to go back to the office
Hands up how many of you want to go back to the office and return to the old way of working. No I didn’t think so. Embracing different ways of working can be so much better for everyone in ways that can power up your creativity, your potential. Being your best self.
I believe there is a place for coming together for work but not in a standardised way, like slaves to your desks.
RAPID CHANGE IN 2020
Transformation in business is a funny thing isn’t it? Buzzwords get thrown around like a frisbee, whilst bold experiments that will genuinely drive the innovation and change, are more often than not, relegated to ideas in PowerPoint decks. Sadly, this is why many businesses suffer from transformation that feels half-hearted.
When you throw into this mix, the terror many leaders feel about communicating their vision, in a way their people can emotionally connect and want to give their all to, you can see why change takes so long and frequently fails. The ‘Why’ is usually not well articulated and so is misunderstood. Businesses lose out on the very thing it needs the most.
A mindset and willingness to JFDI (Just F*cking Do It)
In 2020 every business is being transformed. The pandemic has unleashed millions into an unprecedented experiment in working from home, at a moment’s notice. And surprise surprise, many are happier, more efficient and want to hang onto the benefits when the pandemic ends.
Autonomy you see is the real reason you don’t want to go back to the office
Having the freedom to steer your own ship and manage your work in a way that best suits your personal life circumstances, ambitions and goals is in a nutshell, priceless. Being trusted to deliver in this new way, has meant businesses have got behind the why, which let’s face it is obvious. Gotta beat Covid 19. Why is this paramount? Well for starters you feel trusted to deliver, your loyalty could be higher, you’re more productive and creative. Most importantly you’re happier. Possibly even healthier. And being healthy right now is important. Our immunity needs us to be on our game.
When you’re happy you’re more successful at work. It is Proven. It’s a fact.
Reboot the Commute
Each year, the average person in the UK will spend around 251 hours commuting. That’s around 10 and a half days. Reducing this is great for wellbeing.
Britain’s Office for National Statistics has found that “commuters have lower life satisfaction ….lower levels of happiness and higher anxiety on average than non-commuters”
Picture this. You get to flex your hours so you can do the school run (without feeling guilty), you’re no longer wasting time and a small fortune commuting on crowded, often unreliable public transport or stuck in traffic jams. Perhaps you’ve relished what used to be commute time to getting fit, hanging out with family, having more sleep, loving the headspace, whilst saving money on eating out and dealing with not so great work cultures and office politics.
You are not going back to what was. Nope. Nada. The glory days of the office are gone
Personally I love being able to work from wherever I choose. Sometimes at home with music on in the background, surrounded by plants and thinking out loud without distracting others or looking like a mad person. I feel way better when I have the freedom to find gaps in my day so I can practice micro-sessions of yoga and fitness when my mind or body feels weary and I need an energy boost.
And I can’t stand open-plan offices when I need to think things through or come up with ideas. At times I prefer to sit somewhere with great art and design, where I can change my state of mind to create something new or different. Like a hotel lobby or a funky cafe. And do I even need to be in the same country? No, I don’t.
What I love the most is being able to choose
Let’s face it though the downsides can’t be denied
Trying to meet on Zoom from a dining table with a baby, toddler or bored teenager in the background is not great for productivity. Being able to challenge and spark ideas with colleagues, coming together to innovate, allowing other aspects of your personality have front row access, and for many, having time away from their children are some plus points of going back into the office. The crisis has definitely increased the burdens on working mothers. Trust me. As a solo mum, I know. I’ve experienced this first-hand, with a highly demanding 3 year old in tow.
Businesses are having a big wakeup call. And Transformation is at the heart of this
It’s a time of reckoning, a time to reset and a time to have a rethink about how we want to live our lives. It’s really transformative and it’s a good thing.
So what next? How do leaders navigate their way through this without relinquishing the one thing people want to hold onto more than anything else post pandemic — Genuine Autonomy.
How do you as a leader, use this once in a lifetime opportunity to build a more trusting culture that works for everyone in your business?
There are five things you can do NOW:
- BE WILLING TO LISTEN: Before making any decisions on how people are going to be able to work in the future, ask for feedback from all of your employees on what they want, what works for them, what doesn’t and why. This shows that you care, that you get it and it’ll also provide you with a lot of valuable data about your organisational culture and what really matters to your employees
- SAY IT AS IT IS: You must clearly acknowledge and communicate regularly, that trust and having autonomy is at the heart of this ‘where should employees work from?’ question that all businesses are trying to figure out. And make sure you don’t lose those two things in the new way of operating
- ALLOW CO-CREATION: Think differently. Embrace the transformation and allow others to come up with solutions that can be experimented with. This is true co-creation. Each business has its own quirks so work within that premise and don’t always assume a one size fits all will satisfy.
- HIRE A HEAD OF REMOTE WORKING: This signals that you are taking this seriously and absolutely want this to work for everyone.
- DON’T BE SCARED TO INNOVATE: Re-think what the office means and looks like for employee wellbeing. Create office concepts that you experiment with, on new ideas that improve brain and mental health, such as leveraging exercise to turn down the dial on anxiety and stress, whilst turbo-boosting health + wellness, creativity, innovation and productivity. Or get rid of your office entirely, create virtual offices or partner up with hotels to allow teams to come together during key moments in places that work best for the team.
The Pendulum of Power must Benefit All
This conundrum or opportunity, which is how I like to look at it, mustn’t let go of the fact that people want more autonomy over their working lives, from where they work, to when they work and how this piece of their life puzzle fits with the rest.
We’re all different beings. With individual ambitions and goals. Some of us introvert, others extrovert.
But what we all share is a need to be trusted, valued and given the freedom to choose what works best for us and our potential in life. Time will tell. Between those businesses who embrace these transformative times and those that do not.
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