The unbound workplace – don’t forget the water
The bound organisation
Historically, when picturing a high performing workplace, we’ve presented it as a ‘bound model’ connecting people, technology, and office space to organisational performance.
Culture in the bound organisation
When we operated within traditional offices, with defined structures, cultures, and principles, this location model was effective. Workplaces were self-contained, and the culture, values and brand were pervasive. Organisations could create a ‘brand experience’ and a strong sense of culture within the office. In this new working world, how do we adapt and maintain a strong company culture?
Leadership in the bound organisation
In the bound organisation, leadership was more direct as old presenteeism models continued. Leaders wanted to see their employees in the office to know that they were ‘working efficiently’. This often pressured employees to work longer hours, resulting in a decline in productivity, wellbeing and mental health. As we move away from the bound organisation, there are new opportunities to empower people to work efficiently in a variety of settings. This has the potential to improve wellbeing and productivity, but leadership will have to change now that we’re working in a more dynamic structure.
The unbound workplace
Today, our workplace model is very different. Technology supports movement, connection, and choice. We’re no longer confined to just one workplace (or tank). Within the unbound workplace, there are more opportunities for a better work-life balance. There is less commute time, and individuals are empowered to complete tasks whenever and wherever suits them. This new working culture can improve productivity and employee wellbeing.
We’ve been discussing with our partners and clients the actions organisations can take to strengthen internal communications across distributed workforces. While some organisations have struggled to maintain their company culture, others have prevailed.
One of our clients within the financial sector, AJ Bell, has always led with a strong communication strategy. Though their Manchester office has remained open for key operative functions, the majority of their workforce now work remotely.
“Around 90% of our core operation in Manchester had never worked from home before, so getting to the position we’re at now has been a major achievement for the business… Communication has never been more important. ”
Tech plays a major role in effective communication, supporting employees as they work from various locations. What can organisations do to ensure employees remain engaged? AJ Bell has found the following methods successful:
- Daily video catch-up meetings to ensure that your team has the right level of support, and to check on staff wellbeing
- Direct emails from leadership
- Using tools such as MS Teams to keep everyone in regular contact
- Creating online social events, boosting team morale
- Communicating through the staff intranet to keep employees up to date with the ever-evolving global situation and key business decisions – as well as supporting staff with wellbeing pages and learning development resources.
Rebinding the organisation
As we move from simple locational models to dynamic structures, it’s challenging for leaders to maintain pre-COVID norms (i.e. service, brand, culture). Early homeworking studies have already identified challenges for younger age groups, such as the decreased level of social interaction and learning.
What can leaders do next to plan for a successful future? Each employee will now have a new set of individual needs surrounding their purpose, personal growth and sense of belonging. This creates new challenges for the organisational strategy. Leaders must intertwine the individual needs of their employees with their company culture, values and strategy. Everything has changed for individuals, and so organisations will have to change too.
Don’t forget the water
Back to the fish tank. The water is the culture that leaders need to look after. For organisations to succeed, they must not forget to look after their water. Some may describe this as the secret ingredient.
TSK is hosting a webinar on Wednesday 17 June at 9.30am
This one-hour webinar will debate:
- The pressure on leaders to clearly define the purpose of their workplace.
- Can we deliver an outstanding employee workplace experience both at home and in the office?
- How can we build winning teams?
- The implications for real estate. Will office space reduce, or will we require the same space for fewer people?
- What’s next for the flex space sector? We’ll explore potential pains and gains.
If you are interested in hearing our thoughts and those of leading businesses register here.