Marketers Must Determine What the Future of Work Will Look Like for Their Organization

Invite employees to help design the workspace for a happy, efficient environment

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The pandemic has tested the corporate cultures of companies everywhere. During the initial months of the crisis, leaders quickly realized whether their cultures were strong enough to withstand the new work from home paradigm and sustain staff during the months that turned into over a year of isolation.

Leaders had no precedent for how to handle the onset of the pandemic, and we don’t have one to lead us out of it, either. What we do know is that if our companies’ strong cultures and core values led us through the pandemic, those attributes will guide us out of it as well. They have also learned that the return to office planning initiated by many companies over a year ago has evolved into nothing less than a reimagination of the future of work.

As we all consider and adjust to the changes the world has experienced, here is an approach for leaders as they plan bringing their employees back together again while continuing to nurture culture.

Define and articulate clear guiding principles

Begin planning by establishing a shared vision. Having a statement that clearly defines your approach will focus and guide your team and all planning efforts.

To focus on the issues most important to your team, outline the principles that are guiding your research, planning and process. Share your guiding principles continuously with employees so they understand why leadership makes the decisions they do.

Guiding principles may include:

  • Put people first. A primary focus should always be the health and well-being of your employees, their families and clients.
  • Focus on the output. As a leader, you cannot lose sight of delivering big ideas and business results.
  • Trust and hold people accountable. Trust that your employees will do the right thing and be accountable in pursuit of business objectives.
  • Provide flexibility. The pandemic has proven that the future of work is all about being flexible.
  • Embrace an employee-inspired, employer-endorsed approach. Success is a combination of both.
  • Optimize based on new and evolving learnings. There is never one final plan in our ever-changing world.

Engage employees to design your future

Solicit feedback from your employees via surveys, group discussions and one-on-one conversations. This input can determine your approach and office reentry. Involving input from employees will also ensure that your physical work environment remains a safe, inspiring and inviting destination for employees and clients alike—a place they all want to be in.

Common themes you may hear include:

  • Provide continued flexibility. Almost everyone desires a flexible schedule within a hybrid working environment.
  • Support efficiency. Working from home has caused many of us to get sucked up in back-to-back Zoom meetings, resulting in less time to think and get work done. Exploring structured days, such as meetings in the morning and preserving afternoons for independent work, empowers people to block off calendars for heads-down time or declare one day a week as a no meeting day.
  • Nurture culture. Not surprisingly, human connections and moments of community are sorely missed. Ensuring your employees have time for connection that isn’t related to business will be an important part of feeling like one team again.
  • Focus on technology. Enhancing and continuing to evolve technology, especially collaboration tools, will create a seamless experience for people both inside and outside the office.
  • Evolve the office. The future of work means we all need to make better use of our spaces to fuel collaboration and connection. This may include rezoning your physical space into a combination of collaboration zones, individually focused quiet spaces or flexible workstations.

Continue to share feedback and updates

Throughout the planning process, keep employees updated on research, insights, considerations and decision-making.

No matter how well-planned one’s return to office or future of work approach is, life happens, and leaders need to remain open to pivoting and being transparent as changes arise. Trust is paramount, and being open and honest keeps everyone vested in a shared future in which you can preserve and nurture your cherished culture.