Listen to The People Create the CWWWO

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Companies are Behind on Flexible Hybrid Workplace and Digital Workplace

I am always enamored and fascinated by people living in their own dream worlds. I’ve seen people successfully live in their own world and navigate what I’d call the “common world” but I’ve also seen people live in their own world until their world ends.

Many of us are blinded by our own delusions and the reality we create based on the facts as we interpret them. Our interpretation and personal perspective can’t overtake reality. When it comes to the Digital Workplace, companies like Microsoft, Google and Facebook have been working the market for years sharing the idea that one day, many people will be able to work from anywhere. While Covid forced many companies into a remote work scenario it also informed millions of people of the benefit and costs of remote work. Some corporate leaders are living in their own world, where they believe Covid will go away and things will go back to the way they were, I believe they are mistaken.

There are many conditions where people must go into a physical workplace but with technological advancement, this is also shifting. Think about using mobile applications to order a shake at McDonalds or automated manufacturing through robotics. We aren’t in a place today where humans are fully out of the picture but things are changing.

Whether or not you or I agree with what is happening in the world is irrelevant. It is important to listen and learn from people to understand what we need to do next as leaders. It is nonsensical to think we can demand people go into an office 100% of the time moving forward. As I write this, companies like Morgan Stanley are taking a strong position on working in the office. I am not a fortune teller but I’ll say today that they will either change their position or the amount of money they will pay people to come into the office will impact their bottom line.

Companies that don’t adjust or innovate around trends don’t survive. As Covid didn’t have patience for the work councils and meetings to meet about meetings, companies must adapt to the change which has already taken place. Going back to things the way they were is never going to happen. The questions we must ask ourselves today is:

What is working?

What isn’t working?

What can we do to make things better?

What are we going to do as this pandemic becomes endemic?

Even if Covid for some reason doesn’t have a place in our lives like other common viruses, it has already changed the way people think about work.

A quick side story. I live in NJ, in a place where the air is clear and the pumpkins grow. We are set between beautiful low lying mountains, with lakes near by and farm stands. I love farm stands! I grew up in the Bronx with the hustle and bustle of city life which I grew to dis like to an extreme extent. I know what it’s like to take the bus or train every day and frankly I don’t want to do that. If someone offered me a job in Manhattan today and offered me extra money for the commute and the role, I would turn it down. I would turn it down because I realize there are options. I’m pretty confident based on my conversations with other people anecdotally they feel the same way. Last week, I had to travel into NY for a business oriented thing and I was miserable doing the train, miserable doing the walk, miserable in the city. It smells like weed and urine no matter where you walk and its uncomfortable to be there (for me). I happened to pass by the Morgan Stanley offices and I thought to myself as I walked by, there would be no amount of money they could offer me to commute. I am certainly not worth to that company what it would take to get me there and they are not worth it to me. As a GenX’r, I bust my ass and do the necessary when it comes to work but I’ll share that Covid taught me a lesson as well. I’ve learned from it. I’ll hang in the pumpkin patch and work from here.

What I think Companies Should Do

I think companies should take a few immediate actions.

  1. Setup an office for a Chief “Way We Work” Officer – This person should be a direct report to the CEO and partnered with the CHRO (People person), CIO (Tech) and COO (Ops). The reason this person should be a direct report is because there will be contention and they will require a seat at the table in a similar way to how organizations are moving security leadership.
  2. The CWWWO should set about a few studies.
    1. What is working?
    2. What isn’t working?
    3. How does this impact our Op and Cap expense?
    4. How does this impact the psychology of the workforce?
    5. How does our current situation align to our business?
  3. The CWWWO should have a small group of people working in a consultative manner.
    1. Small staff with a clear vision and value statement aligned with corporate mission.
    2. Short term assignments from staff from other business units.
    3. Cost analysis and material business impact review.
    4. Surveys, interviews, and feedback mechanisms.
    5. Advocacy for employees.

That’s just the start of it. Many companies are struggling to get devices out to staff. The whole thing needs to change. We really need to go from buying people devices to having people use their own devices and providing stipends or additional income to compensate them. The technologies are here today to allow people to use remote computing and containerize their work. It technologically makes little sense to buy and manage office equipment unless there is some special condition which applies.

The CWWWO should understand the company, the brand, the people, the technology all in the context of the way we need to work relative to their organization. Notionally, this could save millions of dollars for companies, it could create new and more secure ways of operating, it could help millions of people work from where they are and create options for people to work faster with more flexibility.

This global pandemic is a crisis which presents one of the greatest opportunities in our time. People can work from an island, a beach or an office in the city if they choose. Companies can save millions of dollars and we can heal the planet by creating less channels for pollution via the daily commute. There are costs as well and we need to understand them. However, we can give buildings back to the earth and create more green space, we can move closer to where we want to live before retirement, we can work in our underwear!

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Something to think about ..
What do you think?

I think there is a lot more coming on this subject!

One thought on “Listen to The People Create the CWWWO

  1. I totally agree with your observation Howie. This is a win/win except for COVID deaths. Something has to push us humans to move away from the gravity of consistency or our comfort zones. One thing is certain …we will need more people thinking out of the box and better education for all. Sad that we humans have to be pushed externally and in some cases (more coming sooner than later) for change. We have known about climate change for many years and also the fact that the world has limited resources in oil and carbon based energies but I guess until the whole world turns into a desert and no food or water are available will people change. I know that is extreme but is it?


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