How Do You Rebuild Work for 2022?
December 1st, 2021 | From our CEO
100 CEO’s have been invited to record their one-minute answer to the question “How are you rebuilding work for 2022?” for Digital Workplace Day 2021. I am delighted to be one of them. One minute is short time for such a big question, so I will also share my answer in this post.
60% Felt Lonely Prior to the Pandemic
In my answer, I looked back to the world prior to the pandemic. People felt lonely in their private lives, but also in the workplace. In Innovisor, our numbers showed that about 5% of the workforce were never included in the informal networks. Nobody reached out to them for help. Nobody sought them out…
Basically, they were ignored…
Just imagine how lonely that would make you feel in the workplace. Basically, they were ignored. Then a statistic stated that 60% of adult US Americans felt lonely at the workplace. A shocking statistic that we felt called to act upon.
Loneliness Equals Smoking 15 Cigarettes Per Day
I wrote a blog post in February 2020 calling on leaders to put this at the top-of-their agenda and stating four concrete actions they could do TODAY and another four tomorrow. Just like with non-smoking policies being implemented a few decades ago I requested non-loneliness policies within organizations.
Research shows that the impact of loneliness on mortality equals the impact of smoking 15 cigarettes/day, so the health impact clear and the decision should be easy. Loneliness in organizations it also results in higher employee turnover, diminished productivity, and worsened team performance.
Then the pandemic hit! Probably the worst thing that could happen to the ‘loneliness disease!’.
Network Shrunk 30% and Inclusion Suffered
People were furloughed, or if lucky sent back to their ‘home offices’ to work. People got even more disconnected in the work networks.
After 9 months, only the strong relationships to colleagues were intact. Work networks had become more fragmented. Innovisor data showed collaboration networks had shrunk by 30%, and a startling 15% of the workforce were now not included in the informal networks. Inclusion also suffered, as people primarily connected to people that looked like themselves in the mirror.
Burnout Was Widespread as Lines Got Blurred
Lines between work and private lives got blurred. People worked long hours in front of their computers, and the first signs of widespread burnout materialized. Mediocre leadership was unfortunately more the rule than the exception. Managers were afraid not to reach their productivity goals and failed in setting up guiding principles and communication lines. Often excusing themselves with waiting for corporate decisions to be made.
Rebuilding Work Is Not About Remote, Hybrid, or Office
Never has the great middle manager made a bigger difference than during this pandemic. The great ones should be applauded publicly and continuously! They were human, they acted, and they were systematic about their care for their people. So, if you have been lucky to have one, then praise them.
We Need to Change How We Work Together
So, when I got the question, “how are you rebuilding work for 2022?”, my answer was clear. It is not a question of remote work, hybrid or 100% office work. It is about changing the way we work so it respects the people. It can only be done together.
Make People A Priority
People are the greatest asset in organizations, so we need to change how we work with together with them. We must make the people a priority. And it starts with their wellbeing. Make sure they do not feel burned out, excluded and lonely. Make sure they feel respected and that they want to work with us.
Only then we can move on to fixing the connectivity of our people and consider remote work, hybrid work, and office work. We need to address the loneliness disease, but also how we solve the lack of inclusion in our informal networks. Fixing this is not about creating one more a corporate feel-good activity.
It must happen out there in the organization. In the teams and in the groups, where the daily work happens. It cannot be outsourced. It requires managers to listen to and engage with their people – and it is not a one-off.
Strike the balance between for well-being and connectivity to achieve performance and innovation
If we succeed with rebuilding work in 2022, we strike a balance between well-being and connectivity. This is where I believe the sweet spot for performance and innovation of the greatest companies in 2022 lies.
How would you respond to the question?