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When we needed to rapidly move to remote work status several months ago, for many of us, it was just a matter of working more from home than normal. We had the capability to access all or the bulk of our work files and systems remotely. For others, it was a matter of grabbing what files and equipment you thought you’d need for a few weeks and then heading home to then figure out how to: serve your customers while using your personal devices, identify ways to access the company’s network of digital and possibly some paper files, get information from colleagues also working remotely who have poor internet connectivity, while also integrating any new company equipment provided to you into your remote work worlds. In the immediacy of the need to work remotely, you made it work. However, as more and more of us are anticipating a permanency to either a completely remote or a partially remote work environment, it’s now a priority that we, as leaders, get control of where our organization's files, equipment, and knowledge is being housed.
Shifting to a remote work environment permanently for the foreseeable future has become a reality for many organizations. The rapid shift to remote work occurred because of the pandemic. It was a necessary response to a crisis situation that occurred quickly and without much warning. Because of that, we and our team members quickly found ways to do our jobs from our dining room tables with kids, dogs, and doorbells in the mix. It’s what we needed to do in the face of a crisis. We accepted the challenges, frustrations, and extra work as ‘just what we needed to do’ to do our jobs.
If you haven’t already had enough surprises and challenges this year, get ready for another leadership challenge: Your workforce’s composition will change more than you expect in the next 18-24 months.
As you continue to refine your organization’s current work culture, whether remote or in-person, don’t forget your organization’s values. Your organization’s values are your organization’s ‘House Rules.’ They define the behaviors that are expected, day in and day out, of everyone who takes a paycheck from your organization or who represents it. If someone doesn’t want to abide by your organization’s values, fine. They are simply choosing to work someplace else.
When things start to settle a bit in your world as you adjust to the new reality caused by the global COVID-19 Pandemic, be prepared to dramatically revise your strategic plan. It’s no longer strategically viable. Whether your operations experience a positive or negative impact for two weeks or two years, the future work world you were envisioning when your plan was created no longer exists.