In the Midst of Chaos

‘’In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity’’ – The Art of War, Sun Tzu

As I sit back at home working remotely with clients, when coaching, client facing and group development used to be my number one driver, I can’t help to think how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact our workplaces for months and years to come.

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen what agility looked like. Many companies have had to move fast, adapt their ways of working and even change their core product and service offering to survive. In my line of work, we collaborate closely with companies in developing their agility and we challenge leaders to work towards their full potential. In recent weeks, we have seen what great leaders are made of: the ability to adapt and the courage to make difficult decisions. Many of them have had to scramble with the fact that working remotely had become the new reality rather than a request from a few employees seeking a different workplace environment. Within a week, most companies opted for laptops and communication software that had been in arm’s reach for a while and started using them.

When self-isolation is behind us, will we just go back to our old ways? What repercussions will it have on the workforce? How will it impact the workplace as we know it today? Many elements are still up in the air, but one thing is for sure: change of mindset will be a force in our new workplace environment.

Here are some possible changes in the workplace to expect:

  1. Employees who already enjoyed their work environment and needed the socializing will probably be overjoyed to come back to the office. It might even boost collaboration and mobilization for a few weeks.
  2. When employees will call in sick, managers may react differently. People who stubbornly come to work with a cold will be looked at differently, maybe even frowned upon.
  3. Requests to work remotely will be more difficult to ignore and brushed off. It could possibly be challenged by the fact that in most cases it has been feasible and somewhat efficient with the recent events. This pandemic has led to an accelerated adoption of tools (Hangout, Zoom, Whereby, Webex, Skype, etc.) and even more collaborative tools (Teams, Slack, Trello, Notion, etc.) to increase productivity.
  4. Collaboration is a key word that will last a long time in the new workplace post pandemic. As organizations had to become more agile overnight, many pieces of the puzzle moved at the same time. A more decentralized and entrepreneurial way of working will pave the way for the future. It will go hand in hand with collective intelligence methodologies that have existed for many years and will be reinforced (design thinking, business agility, etc.).
  5. New types of leadership will emerge through this virtual management wave we have been propelled in. It’s not necessarily the same talents required to manage a team remotely. The styles of leadership that will prevail during and after the crisis as well as virtually will possibly have different attributes.
  6. More than ever, developing a strong company culture that takes into account our personal life will be key in talent attraction and retention. As the pandemic will have affected everyone in the workforce, it will be a source of comfort to know that companies will take care of their employees in times of crisis.

No one has a crystal ball. We still don’t know how deep the changes will be, but we must look to the future as being bright once we have passed through this darkness. There are many challenges ahead of us, but we have an opportunity to witness great changes in our society and companies.

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Jennifer Gabriele
  • Leader – Professional Branding and Executive Communication

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