Transforming businesses to adapt to the “new normal” – what should success look like for you?

Transforming businesses to adapt to the “new normal” – what should success look like for you?

If you are anything like me you will have been thinking a lot about the future recently, and what it holds for the organisational structure of your business in the future. A survey by Gartner in the US has found that three-quarters of chief financial officers believe that at least 5% (only 5% I hear you cry!) of their workforce – who previously worked in offices – will become permanent work-from-home employees after the coronavirus pandemic ends. With social distancing due to be with us for some time, it is easy to see why CFOs are rightly questioning which roles require office space.

That figure of 5% is moot, based on the belief of CFOs, we should be careful it doesn’t congeal into a “fact” through repetition, becoming an Illusory Truth as our Science Team here might frame it. What is true, is that without making the effort to understand the experience of those colleagues who have been thrust into working from home.

What if it isn’t five but twenty-five per cent of employees who would prefer continued working from home? What if it is none? What do those people coming and going from an office want from that space? If people remaining or even becoming increasingly productive whilst working from home because they are “rallying around the flag” in the short term, will that same desire remain as restrictions ease?

Can we, as some of our clients are beginning to see, maintain and improve a productivity spike in home-based working?

What will organisations look like in the coming months?

The question of what our organisations will look like in the coming months as we emerge is now a pressing one. We are all somewhat at the mercy of wider forces, but there are some things that we can plan for with certainty such as increasingly distributed workforces in the medium term.

If that process starts by being honest with ourselves about where we and our companies sit on Automattic’s Matt Mullenweg’s Five Levels of Home Working, it rapidly moves to need to understand and guide our people through this high level of disruption. Overhauling working practices on this scale is going to feel a bit like “Digital Transformation 2.0” (I know, I thought we were largely through that too!), but at least we can bring some valuable lessons from version 1.0 to bear.

What Chemistry observed as organisations undertook digital transformation was the technology had primacy. The impact on the people in the transformation was on Slide 496, or even in the appendix of the big technology consulting firms decks.

What ended up being true was that digital disruption was a behavioural disruption, the catalyst just happens to be a need for technology. 88% of transformations fail, not due to technology but due to organisations systematically undervaluing the behavioural change required by their people. Most transformations, especially digital technology transformations focus on technology, not the people. Big mistake.

As a case in point, The Chemistry Group worked with one organisation which was nearly two years behind in its digital transformation strategy. An analysis of the workforce showed us that they were seriously challenged by change and had a high need for structure. This was a highly regulated business, as we have said more than once, context is everything! Once they redesigned the transformation strategy with this core understanding of how their people received and responded to change, they managed to redress the two-year gap in just six months.

How to redefine What Great Looks Like™ in the new climate

We are not however in a Digital Transformation, but in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. The transformation is, at its very core, a human one, the primacy of people in the next wave of organisational transformation can not be argued.

In order to help organisations understand what their humans have learnt about themselves, their work, their thoughts on what next our fabulous team of scientists have been working away on some new tools to help you. For some of you this tool will point out a few tweaks to help improve and maintain performance, for others, it might lead to redefining What Great Looks Like ™ for many roles within your organisation. For your CFO it may help determine if 5% working from home is the right number!

The first step is to understand the experience of your people. To find out more just reply to this email or find out more about the tool and register your interest here. We are looking forward to helping create opportunities for you and your employees to continue to be brilliant at work, whatever that looks like.

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