What is the work model you practice here? How many days do I have to go to the office per week? Is it a general rule or flexible for each team?
These are the questions that are heard in countless job interviews, in these disruptive times. In fact, the transition from on-site to remote work in the critical stages of the pandemic, in most knowledge-based job roles, has brought “flexibility” to the core of an organization’s attractiveness. Or, in a more technical language, to the heart of the EVP (Employer Value Proposition). “Flexible Work” is no longer a sophisticated nice-to-have ingredient, but it has become a must-have feature, requested by everyone. Returning to a model of 100% office-work does not seem to be a viable or interesting option for any organization.
These brings challenges at different levels. First, the effective management of workflows and collaboration (intra and inter-teams) without the usual synchrony of time and space. Another level is even more pressing: the consolidation of the corporate culture and the consequent cohesion of the organization. Indeed, it is extremely difficult to build the “layers” of culture with simple digital connectios. Beliefs, values, artefacts, norms, habits and behaviors cannot be consolidated between teams that practically only meet in digital mode.
The answer can lie on building bonds and relationships of trust, with a mix of on-site and digital processes and rituals that foster collaboration. Addressing specific objectives like strategy analisys, scenario planning or innovation management, any company can design events and initiatives that 1) enable te “strategy to action” cycle and 2) consolidate team cohesion and collective effectiveness.
Acknowledging that there will still be (for now) lots of job roles without the possibility of remote work, digitalization and automation will not allow time to go back. Work will be something you do, with a well-defined purpose and outputs, regardless of location. Offices will be less the place of ritualized daily sacrifice, of the 7 or 8 hour journey, to be spaces of connection, collaboration, strategic debate, creativity and innovation. And if the essence of work is changing…structure, leadership and culture should follow through.
Managing Partner of Darefy – Leadership & Change Builders