So, let’s have a tough talk about change. It surrounds us. It’s everywhere you look. It’s inevitable. It’s advancement and growth, but equally is ageing and decay. It’s meeting new people and losing touch with others. It’s the difference between missing someone and forgetting someone. It’s nature. It’s the seasons. We can accept it and embrace it or fight it and ignore it. But it won’t go away.
So, it’s life. It’s omnipresent. It can present an existential threat, like climate change. Or offer a promise of something better, as with efforts to eradicate malaria. Covid-19 changed our world immeasurably. Within days it changed how we moved between countries, then cities, then towns, then workplaces, schools, shops, then eventually even our homes. Restrictions were imposed where there were freedoms. It robbed us of physical contact, and sadly, of so many loved ones. It was frightening. But we learnt. And we adapted.
It categorically changed the perception of where work could get done. And it changed how work got done, as millions of employees adapted to a hybrid workstyle previously the preserve of a privileged few. And now executive leadership teams have some tough decisions to make. They are trapped in a new people and place limbo, torn between the opportunity to ditch perhaps half of their expensive real estate, while gut instinct tells them there are unquestionably some things that are better done together.
Like unstructured learning or bonding around a common purpose. Or laughing in the pub after work. I’m with them on this – especially the pub bit. So, where’s the balance? Do they follow that instinct and encourage people back? Or demand a structured return to office and risk being cast as Luddites, condemned to the hybrid workplace activists blog post-purgatory?