2020 was definitely a year of learning. Perhaps most critical was that we saw how quickly we could modify and change everything from work from home to how we get our groceries.
I suspect, however, that the changes will be much more profound and long-lasting and that the idea that we will return to some kind of “new normal” is a misnomer. When major crises or even technological advances happen, no one wonders whether we will go backwards. We can’t imagine checking in at the airport and not going through a meaningful screening process after what happened on 9/11. After cars started showing up on roads, no one said, I’ll just keep riding my horse into town.
One area where I’ve already seen a big difference is that people are focused more on the critical skills required for work success that go beyond their technical skills.
- We’ll learn new ways to stay motivated when working remotely such as, paradoxically and for example, taking walking breaks that refresh us rather than just standing up for 5 minutes and talking to a colleague.
- Diversity and inclusion discussions will be held at the team level (including at the highest levels) so that we can better understand our own racial biases in relationship to others.
- Managers will meet up with individual employees to discuss their preferred way of working and what the business requires to determine how schedules of on-site and off-site work will be developed
- Work-life harmony rather than work-life balance will be a new phrase for workplace healthfulness. It is not about balance but about finding the connections between work and home and how to create synergies in support of each one.
- Your team members will be granted the gift of time at work. One of my clients told his team, just this past Monday, that he was cancelling their regular 11 AM meeting and instead asking them to take some time to reflect on 2020, or to reach out to a colleague with whom they had not talked to recently or just think about whatever would be helpful for them during that time. We’ll need more of these kind of leadership initiatives to create the new world of work in 2021.
What do you think will change in the workplace in 2021?