While change can be difficult, it’s easier when we can anticipate and plan for it. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit a little over two years ago, the change was abrupt and didn’t allow for proactive planning. It forced organizations to make quick decisions, based on limited information. It required organizational agility unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Phases of the Pandemic
If you were to break down the phases of changes associated with the pandemic, you might do so as follows:
- Phase 1 | The Departure: Beginning in the spring of 2020, quarantining and social distancing required significant changes in where and how work got done, including a significant increase in remote work.
- Phase 2 | The Return: While some organizations began returning to an adjusted or pre-pandemic work environment sooner, we’ve seen the most significant change over the past six months, including the creation of permanent remote work positions and large return-to-office (RTO) efforts.
- Phase 3 | The Come and Go: This is where we are now. We have seemingly “returned to normal,” only to find ourselves having to (again) rapidly adjust how and where work gets done. This phase will require us to use everything we learned from phases 1 & 2 to be successful.
Achieving Organizational Agility
These three phases of change did not come with a playbook based on historical norms and lessons learned. They have all required organizational agility. So what are some of the things organizations must do to be agile in this new, uncertain, and constantly evolving environment?
- Equip your leaders with training and technology to deal with rapid changes in workplace location. Having people in the office one day, remote the next, and working from other states, time zones, or even countries will become increasingly frequent. Are your leaders and managers equipped with the training and technology to deal with rapid changes in how and where work gets done?
- Identify your infrastructure needs for a safe office environment. Some questions to consider: What does a modern, safe office space look like? How many people can be in your building(s) at once to support collaboration and maintain appropriate social distance? Will you need to implement a hoteling system for employees to reserve desk space? Will you require masks? Will you enact a testing and/or vaccination policy?
- Reestablish and communicate your performance expectations. Empower and equip managers to deal with this kind of adjustment with care and compassion. Abrupt changes in how and where employees work, along with increased challenges of managing work and childcare may require the company to reestablish performance expectations. Do you have a process in place to enable this and are managers equipped to manage?
- Enable your current workforce location(s) to help mitigate risks and allow for business continuity. Continuing spikes in Covid cases that require organizations to take action are typically location / region specific. How well does your current workforce location footprint help mitigate risks and allow for business continuity?
- Reexamine your wellness and flexibility programs. Traditional leave and vacation policies may be too rigid to address the realities of abrupt workforce changes. Have you reevaluated your wellness & flexibility programs to recognize the once again changing needs of your employees?
- Implement flexible employment policies. Companies should review their employment policies and update them to reflect changed working conditions. Additionally, companies can consider new policies that reflect the modern workplace.
- Evaluate employee communications. Many remote employees are experiencing fatigue from video conferences and remote team building activities, but want to stay up with company changes and announcements. Clear and frequent communication is more important than ever.
- Create new approaches. In an abruptly changing environment, organizations will need to create new approaches to talent acquisition, learning formats, and performance management models that are easily accessible to everyone – whether in-person, hybrid, or fully remote – and promote a culture in which employees approach each other with curiosity and openness.
Although this is not a comprehensive list of considerations, these are actionable steps to take in the current Phase 3 environment. Centering your employees while taking the above actions will help your business form an agile and healthy foundation for success.
Tools That Help
SixFifty can help! Our Employment 2.0 toolset helps companies navigate changes in health and safety protocols while complying with employment laws around the country. We are continuously monitoring this dynamic area of the law and updating our tools with changes in real time. Working with SixFifty is like having the best employment lawyer in the world by your side.
If you are ready to get started or have any questions, schedule a demo with SixFifty today!
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Written by Kevin Maze
Kevin Maze, Director of Business Development & Customer Strategy, Peak Advisory Consulting Kevin holds a Bachelor's degree from DePaul University and has completed several HR, change management, and project manager certifications throughout his career. He has recently discovered trail running as a new hobby and likes to balance a good workout with a good beer. When not running and drinking,...
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