Anywhere Office - the Future of Work
Updated: Jul 18, 2022
As the world attempts to return to "normal" after a year and a half of social distancing and working from home, business leaders also find themselves struggling to wrap their heads around what "normal" is. Will business and work be like we knew it two years ago, or are we in the midst of a paradigm shift?
The covid-19 pandemic has forced us through one of the most efficient change processes in history; there was very little room for exceptions, it lasted long enough for everybody to get used to the new ways of working, and the entire world was involved. And business went on. Not quite as usual, and some industries and regions suffered significant losses. However, large parts of the world did in fact continue to do good business, and some did really well, also across borders and cultures. For some companies, like Network Development Hub, an international boutique advisory founded by Naveed Syed and myself in May 2020, the acceptance of digital collaboration across borders has been a blessing. Our colleagues, clients, and customers are spread across four continents and represent around fourty nationalities. With the pre-covid understanding of cross-cultural business, this would have required a significant amout of travelling.
Several studies around the world have shown that there has been no significant loss of production as a result of working from home. Actually, a global McKinsey survey of 100 executives across industries and geographies shows that both productivity and customer experience has improved during the pandemic*. This doesn't mean that working from home is THE ANSWER, but it does mean that we need to replace the negative connotations around home office ("hiding from expectations") or remote office ("far away from the real business") with constructive and professional discussions around the hybrid future of work. Implicit accusations and condescending nonsense does not belong in those discussions. I believe we should start by defining new phrases that add a more professional and objective layer to the discussions. Perhaps 'anywhere office' would give the discussions a better flavour of equality and respect?
The technology giants have accepted the challenge, and as the Gartner report Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021** points out, the overarching strategy for service and product development is now "hybrid first".
The combination of changing employee behaviour and preferences and the "hybrid first" strategy of the technology corporations creates an unstoppable tsunami of change that is not going to die out with the slow-down of the covid pandemic. As a leader, the only thing you can do is to choose your own approach; get into the wave and surf with it or be overwhelmed and disappear.
The international tech startup landscape is sizzling hot, and innovative digital collaboration tools are definitely in the pipe. Sustainability and climate change actions are more important than ever, and reduction of travels plays a significant role. The War for Talent is picking up speed, and online academic training enables high-quality education independent of location (provided access to computer and internet).
To answer my opening question; yes, we are in the midst of a paradigm shift. At the core of that paradigm shift lies the role of the leader. Those leaders who continue to try to lead with their pre-covid understanding of leadership will spend a lot of energy trying to regain contol through workplace rules and regulations. These leaders and the companies they represent are within a handful of years highly likely to find themselves to be the worn-out and bruised leaders of the loosing batalion in the War for Talent. The winners of the War for Talent will be the leaders who are brave enough to be willing to redefine their roles and embrace the new ways of working. However, the settings of this new paradigm are still in the working, and many answers and solutions are yet to be figured out.
Would you like to hear more about my perspectives on The Future of Work, Anywhere Office, and the drivers of the new leadership paradigme? Feel free to reach out, or contact The Closer for booking:
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