Consider this;

You wake up in the morning, you turn off your alarm, and as you lie there in bed, you check facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp,  Twitter, texts, emails and then the news. Then you go to the bathroom, you use the toilet, brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed and then head for the kitchen. You drink some coffee and eat breakfast. Maybe you watch the news or check your emails again. It’s the same routine you follow everyday. 

Then you drive to work on the same old route, and when you get there you interact with the same coworkers you saw the day before. You spend your day performing pretty much the same duties you performed yesterday. You might even react to the same challenges at work with the same emotions; Then after work, you drive home; maybe you stop at the same grocery store and buy the food you like and always eat. You cook the same food for dinner and watch the same television show at the same time while sitting in the same place in your living room. Then you get ready for bed in the same way you always do-you brush your teeth (with your right hand starting from the upper right side of your mouth), you crawl into the same side of the bed, maybe you read a little, and then you go to sleep. 

:-/

THEN….

 All of that gets turned on its head.

Last week on the Digital Village Stream we held a panel discussion with:

Josephine
Josephine Parker
(Leadership, Strategy Implementation, Transformation & Change | Yoga Teacher & Yoga Therapist)

Currently working with Allianz Insurance with their organisational transformation. Jo is a creative, driven Executive Coach, Facilitator and Organisational Development specialist, helping leaders and organisations transform and achieve more through their people.

Justin
Justin Rees
(Eighty20 Solutions)

Justin is the co-founder of ‘Eighty20 Solutions’ a modern workplace transformation company specialising in Microsoft systems integration. Justin has a background in running large scale transformation programs for enterprise organizations.

Nikki
NIkki Thompson
(Coach & consultant – Inner Circle Work)

Nikki has a long history working in the health industry as a clinician and manager. She also brings business and life skills gained from raising a family and assisting her husband on their grain and grazing property. Nikki provides coaching and consulting to empower individuals and organisations to live and work more mindfully. This promotes health, wellbeing ,collaboration and creativity.

Dave
Dave Massage
(KPMG Australia)

With over 15 years in the ICT, Banking & Finance and Professional Services industries, Dave specialises in data analytics and strategy development and is passionate about growing and developing dynamic, high performing teams, delivering large scale strategic and transformational programs. Dave is currently the Director of data and analytics at KPMG.

Rach
Rachel Atkins
(This Thing of Ours)

With over 15 years in the ICT, Banking & Finance and Professional Services industries, Dave specialises in data analytics and strategy development and is passionate about growing and developing dynamic, high performing teams, delivering large scale strategic and transformational programs. Dave is currently the Director of data and analytics at KPMG.



We spoke about working from home (WFH) and what this might mean for us as people in terms of work and life balance. We also explored the impact on business and how organisations are navigating this change and how they will need to adapt to remain relevant into the unknown future.

 

How are we dealing with the change?

Around the 29 minute mark on the video Rachel describes a change curve model. The Change Curve is a popular and powerful model used to understand the stages of personal transition and organisational change.

Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

 

Rachel’s observation was that companies went from being in denial or panic mode to then jumping to focusing on what is going to happen in the future. Possibly avoiding the reality of now. 

Jo suggests that this coping mechanism is where employers need to be focusing on to support their people. Being a crucial point in this journey of change. It is an especially important point in time where there is a need for authentic care and support for people before business implications are considered. 

 

Adapting to change means being flexible. 

In the ‘old-normal’ world there was often a clear distinction between work life and home life. Now that everyone is working from home, co-workers are seeing a new side of their co-workers that is more real as they get to meet their kids in the background trashing the house or the pet dog joining the conference call. Or as a listener shared on Youtube chat on the call, her friend sharing more than expected with her husband’s company. 

But what this ‘rawness’ or ‘exposure’ of vulnerability is doing for people and companies, is bringing them closer together in a more personal and meaningful way. There is empathy between co-workers and also client relations because we are now no-longer displaying a different version of ourselves. The benefits of this authenticity is trust, better communication, culture, camaraderie and togetherness. 

Parents having to cope with a very hectic home life are obviously finding it very difficult, but at the same time coworkers are aware of their challenges because they have a window view into the lives of their co-workers. The team now has a greater appreciation and understanding of the lives of the coworkers and the blend between life and work is more balanced. Dave shared his experiences of this and Rachel suggests how organisations should be supporting their staff at about the 47min mark (here).

 

Will companies want to go back to the ‘old-normal’?

Justin raised a good point about why WFH is working now and what the challenge might be when the lockdown is lifted. Suggesting that WFH is working for many organisations now because everyone is in the same circumstances. The real challenge comes when we go back to the office and there are say 80% of people working from the office and the other 20% remotely. Do those people who are working from home feel that they can contribute and are being heard by the rest of the team? Taking into account non verbal communications such as body language and the effects of physical presence. 

Some people thrive in the office environment and feel a need to be around other people. While others enjoy the solace of their own space and actually would prefer to WFH from now on. We might see a more equal split between those working from home and those from the office. If that is the case, workplace environments and communication technology will need to be re-imagined. (if you are a large organisation interested in exploring what that might look like, I recommend speaking with Justin or someone from Eighty20 Solutions about that). 

 

Jo described a very interesting scenario; now that people are not needing to go into the office anymore, but they will still be wanting the connection and community that comes with the workplace. So the office environment we are accustomed to, could be more about social hubs for people to congregate and work. Which opens up a range of working environment designs that are more functional, enjoyable, productive and innovative.

 

Reliance and Adoption of Digital

The Industrial Revolution accelerated growth through mass production and huge efficiencies. It was throughout this period that organisational structures were formed and systems and processes were prescribed to form the blueprint of business, employment and trade that we still live our lives by today (including school systems). 

This attachment to a Marxist view that value is determined by time of labor input, has developed an expectation overtime that employees need to be in the office, at their desk and sitting there from 9-5. And this is how a company can be sure that things are getting done. This is of course an extreme example of ‘command and control’, but it highlights where we have come from and how things can change. 

When asked about the impacts on business, Dave shared that one of the lasting legacies of this scenario will be a faster and more extensive digitisation of Australian businesses. He expressed the general resistance that organisations have to digitisation and some examples of how much more effective teams can be when truly adopting digital into their organisation. (Thanks Dave for the reference to this great article about such adoption of digitisation in the Australian business community.) 

Digital technology provides an opportunity for businesses to quickly create new customer value propositions. By better understanding the customer, creating more meaningful services and products, and providing an enhanced customer experience through new digital offerings. As more people are online now, there are new opportunities everywhere for organisations to try new things and remain relevant into the new world. 

 

Digital Business Design – Digital transformation challenges and what solutions researchers have learned

Digital business design: ‘The holistic organisational configuration of people (roles, accountabilities, structures, skills), processes (workflows, routines, procedures), and technology (infrastructure, applications) to define value propositions and deliver offerings made possible by the capabilities of digital technologies. 

(Ross et al., 2019) 

 

For mid-large businesses, becoming digital is a competitive necessity. Ubiquitous data, unlimited connectivity and massive automation provides organisations with an opportunity to reinvent themselves, adapt to new markets and evolve for the future of business and the way people work. Reinventing themselves for the future requires stepping into the unknown, and I have great respect for the leaders of these companies who are steering these highly challenging transformations. There is no right way up the mountain and there is no pre-existing cut path guiding the way. 

 

Experimentation and flexibility are characteristics that typically are not associated with large organisations, but ironically this is what it is going to take to navigate the digital mountain.

 

In September 2019, the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research Press published the findings of 4 years of research into a book; Designed for Digital. How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success. Within it, defining 5 organisational capabilities that companies must develop to succeed at digital. These 5 building blocks of an organisation are:

 

      1. Shared Insights about what digital solutions the company can develop that customers will pay for. (building the intersection between what the business can do and what customers desire.)
      2. An Operational Backbone that captures the company’s requirements for integration and standardisation of core operational processes. (This building block enforces reliability in the execution of foundational processes and integrity of company data).
      3. A digital platform of reusable digital components making up digital offerings (this building block provides access to repositories of business, data, and infrastructure components.
      4. An accountability framework that allocates decision making rights to ensure both autonomy and alignment (this building block defines roles, decision rights, and processes to support speed and alignment in development and use of the digital platform.
      5. An external developer platform that exposes digital components of external partners (this building block provides the technology, processes and roles enabling digital partner relationships. 

(from “Designed for Digital: How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success (Management on the Cutting Edge)” by Jeanne W. Ross, Cynthia M. Beath, Martin Mocker)

 

What got me into tech, was the fascination with the fact that with technology, almost anything is possible, you are only limited by your imagination. What I love about innovation, is that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ideas. There’s only things that work and things that do not. 

So what new designs of businesses are we going to see in the future? What innovative configurations of people, processes and technology will form throughout the evolution of the digital age? What new services, products and offerings are we going to see? And what could this mean for employees and their livelihoods?  

 

Finding Balance: Giving power to the people

Centralised organisational structures have most of the decisions and responsibility at the top of the organisation, while decentralised organisations allow decision-making and authority at lower levels of the organisation. 

Source: referenceforbusiness.com

 

By breaking down silos and verticals into small cross-functioning teams, it can provide the business with greater and faster innovation because of the diverse knowledge and expertise within the one team. There is no skill or knowledge waste and people are learning from one another. Ultimately each team has their own culture. A team culture created by empowering individuals and teams to take ownership and responsibility for what they are working on. Where it is a choice to work, not a requirement.  

 

Funnily enough, the flexibility that companies need is the flexibility that people now need for a healthy WFH and work:life balance. Companies that are adopting ways of engaging people that provide a flexible balance between work and personal life will no doubt attract and retain the talent they want and need. 

 

An example of this is a small team of people dedicated to a specific digital product where they are responsible for its design, delivery and success like a startup within an organisation. The cross functioning team can quickly innovate, test and make decisions without getting approval from further up the org chart. There is ownership and purpose in this way of working that is empowering and enjoyable. And it gets results. (learn more about DV teams here)

 

Transformation of work life

In Nikki’s words; 

COVID to me is giving us a beautiful global tap on the back to say change how you do business, because if you don’t your grandkids are not going to be impressed.’ 

 

We are being forced to look at the world in a different way. The way we work, the way we live, the way organisations operate, serve their customers and engage their people in employment. 

Like the movie Finding Joe, we are all on a journey of transformation where if we break from the shackles of the past, we are sure to come out better than how we went in. But we need to make choices and take risks and be willing to let go of the way things were. 

Whether that be the shackles of legacy organisational structures or personal baggage we hold onto, we have the choice for a more balanced work life.  

 

Finally, 

Consider this;

You wake up in the morning, you turn off your alarm, and as you lie there in bed, you have a choice. How will you choose to live your life?   




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