A Systemic change is a change that affects how a whole system functions. We are experiencing many levels of societal systemic change due to COVID 19. One of the largest systems we are reevaluating is how businesses function and how we work within them as leaders and employees. With whole organisations and teams working remotely, many for the first time, new trends are emerging.
Before we delve into these new trends, it is important to address how we are able to identify them. We are experiencing perfect 20/20 hindsight vision. We were forced to leave the previous operating system and we are able to see it from an outside perspective.
For many of us, a 9 to 5 routine of commuting to an office and working all day at our desk was an unquestionable part of working life. We have been raised our whole lives in this system. We believed it was critical to performing well in the workplace.
Now that we have justify this system, it has allowed two things to happen. First, we can see the system clearly. It is very difficult to see something unless we remove ourselves from it. And now that we are no longer immersed in our routines, we are evaluating the system as a whole.
Secondly this has created an opportunity to test our assumptions. We believed the physical office space was necessary to be productive and now it has been removed from our daily lives. It has forced us to test our assumptions about what we need to achieve our goals and create value for our organisations.
The previous system was what we accepted as our reality. And now we have created a new system. Moving forward we have a massive opportunity to create yet another reality. One that works better for us, our families and how we define our value in the workplace.
We tend to get used to patterns and not question the assumptions embedded into the systems we create. Now that we are outside of the system, the ability to see it is powerful. It will help us design better systems, systems that intentionally reflect what we desire. The opportunity to create our next workplace system is just around the corner. We have never been in a better situation to create systemic change!
What do we want to change, now that we have been outside the system? Here are four emerging trends we believe will change how the world of work will function in the future.
Questioning The 9 to 5
One emerging trend is the work culture of the nine to five is losing relevance. This workday grew out of the industrial era, a world that we are not living in anymore. Why should we continue to organise our work schedules around a system that doesn’t exist anymore?
With remote work comes greater flexibility in the number of hours a person works and when they are working. Without the constraints of the typical day, some people are waking up early and completing their best work before 9 am. Others may find working at night suits them best. For many people, this flexibility helps them to work when they are most productive and spend time on family or themselves during the day. The time frame is up to the individual to decide what works best for them.
The Social Aspect
While the ‘how’ we work is changing, it is important to note the ‘why’ is also shifting. The absence of working with colleagues in an office is highlighting the importance of casual socialising at work.
In our previous system, we framed work as a place to be productive, to achieve and find success. With remote work, many of us are finding we are still able to meet those objectives from home. We are now understanding how critical the social aspect is for working life. We work for and with other people and interacting on a human level is important in ways we never appreciated before.
We desire conversations that inspire us, that gathers us together so we can grow and learn. This highlights why companies like Airbnb, Google and Apple call their workplaces a ‘campus’. This word evokes a school or university atmosphere of learning and working in a collaborative environment. A space with a social aspect of work is just as important as the work itself. We may find that physical workspaces will shift from one of discipline and structure to a place of sociability and growth.
Measuring Productivity, Does It Matter?
Some people are finding they are working more, and others that they are working less. Managers and leaders within the organisations may feel like they are always on, and not able to disconnect. And others may feel that they are more productive, and they are completing their work faster. This shift in increased productivity may mean we create more micro roles with more niche tasks and focus, rather than macro focused positions where the emphasis is on doing more, at the detriment of efficiency.
Leaders Have A Choice
As leaders, we have choices to make about what we want to take forward into the ‘new normal’, whatever that becomes. We each have a lot of choices to create it through our actions. What are we going to keep and what are we letting go?
The future is a reflection of our present. As soon as possible we need to start creating a new system for work. A system that will work for us. And this is done by the decisions we make now in our day to day, not later in some imaginary timeline in front of us. What do we need to do now to create our collective future?
This future is being actualised day by day. It is manifested through our new realities formed by our systems, our peers, our employees, our teams and our leaders. It depends on what reality you want; we are creating it together!
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