So, what’s all the fuss about the ‘new normal’?
The work-from-home model is nothing new, yet it does not feel the same, does it?
As long as we had the option to go to work, work-from-home seemed normal but with the uncertainty around the workplace itself, the work-from-home model coupled with social isolation has triggered an amygdala hijack. Our response mechanisms are grappling with this so called ‘new normal’ and is figuring out ways to deal with this new working model.
The organizational aspects that influence the workplace culture include Leadership & Values, Workplace Design, Employee Engagement and Social Interactions.
In the ‘new normal’, some of these culture code elements have snapped in places and need immediate attention. Although things might look calm on the surface, there would be undercurrents that need immediate attention.
There are four core areas that need immediate attention and active management in the ‘new normal’ namely:
1. Focus deficit
2. FOMO mindset
3. Trust quotient
4. Organizational Affinity
#1 – Focus deficit
Working-from-home vs working in a workplace is akin to joining a fitness centre vs working out at home. Humans are wired to be in groups and going it alone, although it sounds exciting, most of us would not be able to sustain it. In addition, distractions also hinder our ability to focus and lack of focus can lead to lack of energy and enthusiasm.
There is a huge tangible as well as an intangible cost of an employee that has a focus deficit as it not only impacts the individual but also to others in his/her sphere of influence. This sentiment is highly contagious and viral.
In addition to constantly taking the pulse of their employees, organizations need to establish & publish new work guidelines that assist employees in retaining focus and being productive. Various scenarios need to be taken into consideration as a one-size-fits-all model will not work.
#2 – FOMO mindset
Human beings are curious by nature and we always want to know what is happening around us and in other areas where we may not be involved. A workplace enables an employee to get a sense of the overall context and business environment.
Being at home narrows down the focus to their immediate work priorities and there is a feeling of being blind-sighted and maybe even non inclusiveness. This would lead to FOMO (fear of missing out).
Organizations would have to explore avenues to be more transparent and provide more visibility of the overall business landscape whilst balancing business implications and client concerns.
#3 – Trust quotient
Our sense of confidence and worth comes from our formal and informal interactions in the workplace. Words by themselves do no good if non-verbal cues do not support them. Non-verbal cues are often the most powerful way we perceive recognition of our skills and abilities.
Working with people remotely we lose out on the all-important non-verbal cues. The lack of this crucial information leads to an over-cautious approach often resulting in micro-management.
Times like these provide an excellent opportunity to enhance the trust quotient between your employees and you. Instead of micro-managing, empower your employees, make them accountable for results and adopt a ‘Leader as a coach’ mindset
By showing compassionate empathy and looking to help your employees will not only help you gain more trust and respect from others but also your sense of worth will heighten.
#4 – Organizational Affinity
One of the key success factors for high performing teams is the investment in building and maintaining social relationships throughout the organization. Numerous studies have shown that relationships with colleagues is deemed the number one contributor to employee engagement.
Even in the ‘new normal’, creating opportunities for social interactions in the workplace is vital to ensuring high performance and effective collaboration. Organizations need to focus on designing social experiences in the online workplace that are deliberate, flexible and offer choice of professional as well as non-professional interests.
As these are new experiences, organizations should focus on driving behaviour through smartly designed performance metrics and social change champions to influence and guide employee behaviour
There is a fundamental shift underway and the faster the organizations that adopt the culture code essentials of the ‘new normal’, the quicker they can get ahead of the curve, emerge stronger and grow faster.