Change is in the air. Over a year after the pandemic forced office shutdowns and a shift to remote work, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. At this pivotal moment, organizations are retooling everything from the way they work to how they use office space.
The goal now isn’t to get back to normal. It’s to take advantage of this “change window” — the short period of time in which you can redirect your focus and decide to do things differently.
But change windows are easy to miss. There is a real risk of snapping back to the way things were in February 2020. We have an incredible opportunity to make changes happen, but we have to act before this moment passes.
A Chance to Reinvent
When the pandemic began, businesses everywhere made drastic changes seemingly overnight. They embraced virtual operations, implemented new tools and technologies, and found that remote work could still be productive work.
Those changes should last. Keep the momentum you found during the crisis, and take advantage of this change window with these four steps:
1. Choose today to reimagine the way you do business.
Avoid saying you’re “too busy” to look further ahead. When you’re in back-to-back virtual meetings all day, you can feel like there’s no time to plan and bring in fresh perspectives. This can lead you to postpone big-picture planning, but these delays have consequences. Change can happen just as quickly backward as it can forward.
Take the time now to make change a reality. Make a plan. Will you implement a hybrid office? How will new technology impact the way you’ll interact with customers? Which meetings will stay on Zoom, and which ones work better as in-person conversations?
2. Ask your employees for feedback.
Change requires companywide buy-in, so prioritize asking for employee feedback — and actually listen to what they say. The more you involve everyone in the decision-making process, the more everyone will be on board, engaged and, eager to embrace change.
According to research from IBM, 83% of employees report a more positive work experience when they feel like their ideas and suggestions matter. Ask them which aspects of the new work environment they would like to keep — and which elements you should discard. Meet with leadership to discuss the feedback, and then let employees know how you implemented their insights.
3. Consider both current and future employees.
About 71% of workers expect a more flexible schedule post-pandemic. Although your short-term focus is to determine how you’ll handle flexible work hours with your current employees, you’ll also need to consider how you’ll structure that flexibility on an ongoing basis.
Job seekers now rank work-life balance as more important than securing a comfortable salary. What does this mean for you? Flexible work schedules are a must if you want to attract and retain top talent. To remain competitive in your market, you have to make changes that reflect shifting attitudes and demands.
4. Leverage new skills and engagement strategies.
Members of your leadership team may be experienced and successful, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are comfortable with change. There can be a powerful unspoken force to return to the way things were. Your leadership team might need new ideas and coaching during this time — just like the rest of your employees.
In some ways, working in a hybrid environment is more challenging than a fully virtual or in-person setup. You have to find the right balance between the two. Alleviate stress by helping leaders and employees alike learn from and help each other. Ultimately, helping everyone adjust to change — not asking them to change without help — will lay the groundwork for that change to be successful.
As the world reopens, you have the chance to take advantage of your change window. Rethink and reimagine how you work, and you’ll set your organization up nicely for the future. Don’t miss the chance to reinvent your company as a better, more nimble version of itself.