How the Pandemic is Redefining the Future of Your Organization

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In this podcast Renee McGowan states that success in a virtual or hybrid environment depends on getting clear on the new and ever changing expectations of employees. Spoiler alert:  if you don’t find out what those expectations are, you will be toast! In today’s world, you will need to master empathy, vulnerability and even deeper levels of trust. With these new practices and a greater appreciation for agility and flexibility, you will truly succeed as you team anywhere.

The level of organizational change that has occurred in this pandemic is one that will be talked about in history books for a long time. When the pandemic started, the entire globe experienced a sudden organizational shift as companies went 100% remote with zero time to prepare. 

Organizational Design and Leadership

Today, after going back and forth on whether companies will be 100% remote or going back to work in the office, many leaders have realized that it’s unlikely that we won’t have a world where people come together at least some of the time. Renee points out that we’ve seen the value of in-person culture collaboration and the value of remote work, and we’re all trying to discover the perfect balance between both of them that fits our organization and team members’ needs. 

Today, and in the future,  organizational design is going to be about hybrid work and remaining flexible. 

Organizational Design Questionnaire

If you are like most leadership teams right now, and searching for an ideal hybrid work model, Renee recommends using these questions to begin your process and to seek anonymous feedback from your entire team. 

  • How do we want colleagues to work and interact?
  • Do we want them all working at the same time?
  • Do we want them to be all working at the same time of the day?
  • What types of communications will be used? 
  • How do we remove things that are time wasting and spend time on things that are valuable? 
  • How do we make sure that we’re getting all of the richness that comes with people coming together? 
  • What level of flexibility is possible in our business? 

Renee shares an example about product engineering roles. Product engineering roles can be done remotely, and many engineers have been doing so. But, is it optimal for collaboration,  creativity, sitting down and reviewing blueprints, prototypes, etc?

After leaders know what flexibility is possible, then they should look at what flexibility is actually desirable. How much do you actually think people need to come together in person versus working on their own? What amount of flexibility is sustainable? Then consider, what’s the role of the office? What technology have you got that’s enabling it? Do you have the right job descriptions or the right performance management descriptions that support workers being successful in their roles? 

Organizational Design is Different Today

You have to take stock of all the ways work has changed. Leaders tend to focus on hybrid or remote but overlook that other things have changed as well; both leadership styles and employee expectations have changed. The biggest risk factor is satisfying new employee expectations, but then not being able to create the employee experience or energized workforce needed for a sustainable organization today. There must be a balanced solution.

Digital Skills Vs. People Skills

Is the demand for digital skills higher in a remote work environment? Balancing digital skills and people skills is going to be crucial for designing an organization today. Fortunately, there are already role model global companies that cross cultural boundaries, where their employees have both the digital and people skills for the future. Other leaders need to take these global examples, think beyond what the workplace used to look like, and creatively hire and grow the needed digital and people qualities demanded now.  

The age-old term of “we’ve always done it this way” is an innovation killer. It is agility’s biggest enemy. Will your company be able to learn, absorb, be vulnerable and change in this new way?

Leadership Trends 2021

Certain leadership trends were beginning to take hold before the pandemic, particularly around empathy, vulnerability, and purpose. Ironically, the pandemic made these trends grow in importance and at a much more rapid rate because they became a necessity. 

In today’s world, you will need to master empathy, vulnerability and even deeper levels of trust. With these new practices and a greater appreciation for agility and flexibility, you can truly succeed as you team anywhere

About Renee McGowan

Based in Hong Kong, Renee McGowan is Mercer’s President, Asia Middle East & Africa (AMEA), leading Mercer’s business across 18 markets in this fast-growing, dynamic region. She is also Chairperson of Mercer in Japan, and Executive Director on Mercer boards in China and Hong Kong. 

Passionate about making a difference in people’s lives through advising organisations on the health, wealth and career strategies for employees, Renée has held several key leadership roles in her career. Previously based in New York, Renée was Mercer’s Global Leader for Individual Wealth, spearheading the global strategy and growth of the retirement savings business. 

Renée was awarded a Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal by the Australian Government for delivering humanitarian services to that area. 

To learn more about Renée’s perspectives on navigating the changing nature of careers, work and retirement, follow her on LinkedIn. 

To learn more about how the pandemic is impacting organizational design, download this episode now.

Online Courses for Leaders Leading a Team From Anywhere:

Check out these online courses for remote leaders from the Team Anywhere Team.

How to Be an Effective Remote Manager | How to Build Virtual Accountability

Organizational Design Quotes:

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