Managing our teams through a pandemic is no easy task. We have had to overcome many obstacles together and as we continue to overcome unforeseen roadblocks, we realize there is no linear way out of this. There are, however, ways in which we can prepare for and manage change that will result in productive teams and engaging work environments.
Managing the Process of Change
When businesses attempt to makes changes to the workplace, most follow a linear path that looks something like this:
- Understand and define the change
- Set goals and create a plan
- Communicate the plan and gain buy-in from stakeholders
- Prepare for unforeseen challenges
- Adapt and modify the plan as needed
When it comes to workplace changes brought on by the pandemic, we can safely say that there is no linear path to take. The unique challenges, barriers, and constant modifications within the plan lead us all to go up, down, and around this step-by-step process.
A more suitable way to plan and manage change is by utilizing a cyclical model that allows for constant adaptation and opportunities to address obstacles head-on. During a pandemic, there is little time to prepare. Sometimes you just need to take action and implement what is required to keep your team safe, happy, and productive.
When managing change these days it's best to Prepare, Execute and Follow-Up.
Adapting Your Workplace in a Post-Pandemic World
It is difficult to predict how we will want to work after the pandemic. This is an unpredictable roadblock that gets mentioned in all of our change management plans as we recover from intense years of constant change. So how do we manage this to the best of our ability moving forward?
Simply put, let’s continue to prepare, execute and follow-up as and when needed.
- Prepare for More Change
Employers will need to continue to keep pace with the changing preferences of their workforce and their workflows, which will include building plans to create more productive and adaptable workspaces both virtually and onsite. One of the hot topics of discussion these days is surrounding the possible continuation of remote work and the newly created hybrid work environments. Many businesses have already built flexible models into their long-term strategic plans to cater to these changing demands and preferences.
- Execute with the Help of Your Key Influencers
Just as we came together during these challenging times, we must continue onwards together. Involve your key influencers in the process of managing change and executing on new initiatives in the workplace. Better yet, involve them in the planning stages to ensure the changes implemented are inclusive and align with your teams’ values and culture model.
- Follow-Up with Trust & Transparency
The lines have been blurred between personal and professional during this pandemic, as we peer into each other’s homes while we work and take the time to care for our mental and physical wellbeing while managing our stress. Communicating in more empathetic ways is here to stay as well as the heightened need to be open with one another in the workplace. In saying this, it’s obvious we need to ensure the same sentiment comes across in the way we follow-up and ask for feedback when implementing change. We may not always know who is directly or indirectly affected by the change, and so communication is critical at all levels.
This process can be applied to most of the HR hot topics being discussed in workplaces, such as:
- The continuation of remote work abilities.
- Expanded hiring options given remote capabilities and access to a much wider network of top tier employees.
- Technological changes requiring enhanced software, upgrades, and equipment for on-site and home office set-ups.
- Work-life balance policies that allow for flexible schedules, working hours, and paid leave benefits.
- Increased mental health awareness, programming, and resources.
The New Landscape
As in any period of change, we need to adapt in order to be successful. The transformation of our workplaces is a perfect example of this, and will paint the picture of how the recent changes within ourselves and within our organizations will be reflected in the way that we work in the future.
We also have to ask ourselves how we will continue these programs into the future. We will need to upskill and train managers and teams to deliver on these changes. You may look to hire more contractors for remote work and project-based assignments that save money, time, and physical office space. These are just a few opportunities worthy of discussion now versus later.
As we continue to go round in what feels like an endless cycle of change, we realize that we are not stuck in a loop, but rather we are building a stronger and more adaptable team. Whatever challenges get thrown in come right back out as your workforce and workflows become more agile and effective at managing change.