I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

He may have achieved fame as a country music singer in the 1960’s, but Jimmy Dean’s observation could easily have been about the current state of organizational change.

The winds of change have been howling through the working world; the disruptive forces of new technologies, generative AI, the broadening scope of diversity, equity, and inclusion and the assimilation of hybrid and remote working have created a HR hurricane.

These changes are all potentially positive for business, but they are happening at a pace that has been exponentially accelerated by the pandemic. What would have been a gradual integration of the hybrid working format became a sudden and forced shift to remote working which companies either had to adapt to or be left behind.

And yet, although lockdown posed a situation where employers were forced to adjust their sails, the changes that we are seeing now can be best navigated not just by responding to the direction of the wind – but also by anticipating its patterns so to be one step ahead of it.

Here lies the big question: is your organization ready for change?

A recent report from Gartner discovered that 82% of HR leaders believe their managers are not equipped to lead change – and this is exacerbated by the fact that 77% of employees are suffering from change fatigue.

Change fatigue occurs when the volume and pace of change becomes overwhelming for employees. This can have detrimental affects on employee wellbeing and productivity, but despite this only 8% of workers feel confident in their plan to manage their fatigue.

The pace of change in the working world is not predicted to slow, so for those organizations looking to keep in stride – and get ahead of – this new pace, they need to be building change fatigue prevention strategies into their equation for organizational transformation success.

Org Transformation Equation

Currently, most employers will integrate change through clear communication paired with good training. But as we watch the corporate world evolve, so do our approaches to how change is implemented. Weaving change fatigue management into this equation ensures that managers are better equipped to coach their teams on how to effectively identify fatigue drivers, fix any that arise, and start to look at how they can be prevented altogether (this looks like normalizing rest, microbreaks, employee involvement, creating a psychologically safe space, etc.).

What is critical to these prevention strategies being successful is understanding that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to mitigating change fatigue. Different types of employees are going to need different wellbeing support – and if employers are able to look at wellbeing needs through an intersectional lens, then they will be able to efficiently support their people through the intensity of these changes.

An example of this is midlife workers; many of our established wellbeing programs are centred around younger workers (parental leave, childcare support, etc.) whereas older workers will have entirely different needs to this (menopause support, working carers support, etc.). Bridging the wellbeing gap will strengthen your efforts when managing change fatigue and ensure that the other 92% of employees feel confident in their ability to manage their change fatigue as they will have the right support in place.

This will see your business set sail on the high seas of profit, productivity, and employee satisfaction.

If you would like to discuss how we can help implement strategies around wellbeing and change fatigue, please get in touch with me at david@orgshakers.com

David Fairhurst, OrgShakers Founder

David Fairhurst is the Founder of OrgShakers. He is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading HR practitioners and is a respected thought leader, business communicator, and government advisor.

Working in a remote or hybrid setting has entered the mainstream for the world of work.  Navigating applications like Zoom and Teams has become routine, water cooler chats rely on DM, and family members or pets are a common sight while working. That said, there are still the occasional mishaps. For example:

A few years ago, a group of legal workers were discussing a civil procedure over video call when their colleague Ben rose from his seat to reveal that he was, in fact, stark naked. In a similar and more recent blunder, a Social Democratic councillor from Romania thought his camera was off and that he was muted when he took his laptop into the bathroom and began to shower…but he was sadly mistaken.

I found myself dealing with a similar instance not too long ago where an individual was in a team call, accidently switched his camera on, and revealed he was taking nude photographs of himself. While these instances may seem amusing and are sometimes laughed off, it does beg the question for employers: How do we respond? Is policy applicable? And if none exist, do we need to create one?

Since remote work was introduced on a mass scale in 2020, it has become much more normal for employees to dress comfortably and casually for work.

A poll from People Management confirms this, as it found more than half of respondents (56%) wore jogging bottoms or leggings while working remotely, and the average employee spends 46 days a year working in pajamas. 29% of employers surveyed, however, stated they had enforced a strict dress code in response to this change or would if they could.

Ideally, an organization’s dress code can be applied across a variety of work situations and locations. Companies that have embraced remote or hybrid work can mitigate risk and inappropriate behavior by ensuring their workforce policies make sense in multiple settings. Rather than having separate dress code policies for different workers, for example, an organization can have a single comprehensive policy that applies to different situations.

The way we dress to work has always had a big influence on personal brand, company brand, and productivity. It’s the old adage that dressing smartly makes you think and act smartly. Dress helps someone differentiate when they are in work mode and when they are not. Post-pandemic saw these lines blur; the home, which was typically a place for comfort, merged with the workplace. And while dress code expectations may have been clear for working in the office, have employers been clear in what the expectations are surrounding working from home?

When reviewing dress code policies for use in remote or hybrid settings, start by defining what a company deems acceptable as ‘working attire’ when working from home. Consider how ‘dressed’ a remote employee needs to be. If someone on a zoom call is clad in a shirt, tie and even blazer from the waist up, but wearing pyjama bottoms from the waist down, is this unprofessional?

It’s important for employers to partner with HR when determining employee dress expectations. Appropriate attire doesn’t necessarily mean forcing workers to wear business professional clothing at all times, as contextually this may not be beneficial for the desired result.

For example, if a team is brainstorming ideas, an imaginative and innovative process, some individuals will do their best creative thinking when they can dress (and feel) comfortable. In part this is because, psychologically, what we wear can have a huge effect on how we think. One study found that wearing a suit or smart attire made 52% of people feel more productive, 59% act more decisively, and 78% felt more authoritative. And yet, a different study at the University of Hertfordshire asked a group of people to wear a Superman T-shirt, and concluded they believed they were stronger as a result.

Context of the desired result is therefore key when it comes to creating policies around dress codes and video call etiquette. Having a set of standards on what is acceptable – and what is unacceptable – will help mitigate the blunders mentioned earlier. There also needs to be an element of flexibility incorporated into these standards based on the task at hand; creative tasks may require more comfort. After all, if wearing a Superman shirt makes you feel strong, being comfortable can make you feel comfortable, too – and this can encourage some of the best and most honest thinking.

It all comes down to being intentional with the dress code, which will help to ensure clarity around those blurred lines of remote working and home life, while also taking into account the fact that the way someone dresses can have a real effect on their work results.

If you would like to discuss how we can help your company create and optimize these policies, please get in touch with me at amanda@orgshakers.com

What is the office actually for?

What was once seen as a logical and efficient way of working has now been brought into question by the sudden and mass shift to remote and hybrid work.

So, to work out where we’re going – we first need to rewind.

The ‘office’ has always been in a shifting state, all the way back to its conception in the 15th century, where medieval monks created ‘scriptoriums’ to copy manuscripts. From that point onwards these proto-offices slowly evolved as the introduction of artificial light, telephones, typewriters, elevators, and computers eventually spawned sky-scraping office buildings which defined the urban landscape.  

Then BOOM! Lockdown. And everything changed.

What had been a slow and gradual evolution was jolted in a radically different direction. Those that could, worked from home. And for many of these individuals, working life became more productive, and more rewarding, to the point where today nine in ten jobseekers say hybrid work is now as important as financial benefits.

These new expectations mean that employers now need to be considering how they can most effectively use their office space to optimize the productivity of their people when they are in work – while also meeting their wellbeing needs when they are working remotely.

The best way to do this? By focusing on policy, place, and purposeful leaders:

Policy – Clarity is key when it comes to creating policies for hybrid and remote work, and so is the consideration of time. Your policies will outline when you expect people to be in, and when they are permitted the freedom to choose whether they use the office or work from home.

How flexible are your working hours? Are there core working hours that everyone needs to be available for? Being clear about what your policies are and why you have chosen them is important when it comes to building trust and loyalty with your staff, as well as lending to your attractiveness as a company.

Place – Different people are going to want/need to use the office for different reasons. For some, they may want to be in everyday as they cannot find a quiet space to focus at home. For others, they may only want to come in once a week, as they can do their individual work from home but enjoy face-to-face contact for more collaborative tasks. The point of this is that you have to be able to offer a place that can accommodate for both.

Will you have a Superdesk in one area to encourage collaboration and cubicle spaces for those who need to concentrate? Or will you try and adopt a more creative approach, with nap pods and sofas scattered about?

There is no ‘best way’ to do it – a recent study found that actively trying to make creative office spaces could be stifling creativity, whilst another discovered that changing from cubicles to open-plan saw a 70% drop in face-to-face interactions.

It all depends on your people’s needs; let them guide how your office space takes shape, and this way, it will ensure the optimization of their productivity.

Purposeful Leaders – Your leaders will play a huge role in bringing these policies to life –  as well as ensuring that the office space you have is delivering a return on your real estate investment.

If you decide that you want all employees to come in once a week, then it falls to team leaders and line-managers to highlight why people should adhere to this. If you force your staff to come in only for them to do the quiet, concentrated, individual work they can, and would most likely prefer to, do from home, then you are not optimizing the space around you. These days should be dedicated to collaborative tasks, to nourishing the company culture and strengthening the relationships between colleagues. If this is done correctly, people will stop viewing coming into the office as a chore and actually start wanting to be there, but your policies can only be as good as your managerial facilitation.


Employers need to accept that hybrid and remote work is, for the majority of workers, desirable and beneficial, and begin leveraging this opportunity to optimize productivity rather than seeing it as an obstacle standing in the way of ‘the old way of work’.

The purpose of the office is changing, so now it’s a matter of leading this change rather than being led by it. And this is where we can help – we can assist in optimizing your organizational effectiveness when it comes to hybrid work, helping to craft policies and coach leaders to ensure that your company’s individual needs are met, and simultaneously align with the needs of your workforce.

To continue this conversation, you can either head over to our contact page, or reach out to me directly at andy@orgshakers.com

It might be a new year, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the ever-growing importance of effectively navigating hybrid and remote working. That’s why this month we have been reading Remote, Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace by Gustavo Razzetti.

Being the creator of the Culture Design Canvas – a framework that helps organizations map, assess, and design their culture – it’s no surprise that Gustavo’s latest book aims to explore the secrets behind successful remote workplace cultures.

After spending years studying businesses like Amazon, Volvo, and Microsoft, Gustavo addresses the multiple key areas that are crucial for organizations to be able to operate effectively in remote and hybrid settings. This includes examining culture, how to keep a team connected, asynchronous communication, facilitating conversation, and finding and defining the right hybrid model for your business.

Gustavo outlines the five key mindset shifts that companies need to make in order to reset their workplace culture and optimize their remote working environments:

  1. Intentionally design workplace culture – this will see the active involvement of employees in this design process, and will require employers to be open to experimentation. If they are finding that something isn’t working, they shouldn’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and adjust. Involving the team in the process means you will create a culture that works for everyone – and highlight how valued your employees’ opinions are!
  2. Prioritize impact over input – working long hours and being readily available at all times are not the defining factors of an employee; performance should be measured on the results achieved! This shift in mindset will see employers encouraging employees to showcase their accomplishments rather than perpetuating the outdated ways of presenteeism.
  3. Forget traditional work-life boundaries – remote work blurs the lines between home-life and work-life, and in order to successfully operate remotely, employees need to be allowed to embrace the messy reality it can sometimes bring. Normalize interruptions from children or furry friends, and be more lenient to dressing down when working at home. This helps ensure the home remains a sanctuary that still symbolises comfort and rest.
  4. Collaboration doesn’t have to be synchronous – in hybrid workplaces, it’s important to acknowledge that everyone works according to their own timetables. Embracing this flexible and autonomous approach allows individuals to optimize their productivity and discover their peak working hours.
  5. Delegate decision-making to empower teams – get your teams involved with creating their hybrid working policies and empower them to have a say in how and where they work. This solidifies the culture of autonomy that threads through all these mindset shifts and helps to create a more fulfilling workplace experience.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the book, Gustavo explores why the ‘office’ doesn’t equal ‘culture’, and how to build psychological safety in a hybrid working world.

Our OrgEssentials team specializes in start-up and transformation, and so if you would like to discuss how we can help bring these remote working practices to life in your workplace, please get in touch with us!

And if you would like to get your hands on a copy of Remote, Not Distant, you can head over here for the UK and here for the US.

Despite the days of in-person client meetings lessening, employees are still finding themselves setting out on corporate trips…just for new reasons.

The pandemic quickly made a lot of businesses see the futility in travelling across countries for client meetings. After being forced to work remotely, it became logical to continue conducting business meetings across international waters via platforms like Zoom and Teams – it was less time consuming, and a much cheaper alternative.

While this initially lead to a huge decline in airlines’ profits due to this drop in business travel, an August 2023 report from the Global Business Travel Association showed that the worldwide business-travel industry is expected to surpass its pre-pandemic spending level of $1.4tn (£1.1tn) in 2024 – two years earlier than some industry analysists predicted.

Data from American Express Global Business Travel may help explain why. In collaboration with Harvard Business Review, Amex GBT researchers surveyed 425 US professionals and found companies are changing why their workers are travelling. Instead of the pre-pandemic focus on sales-driven outings, business trips are now centred on what the report defines as “non-customer travel”: companies are meeting up internally. 

Read the full piece here: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20240103-remote-work-business-travel

As we counted down to the new year in December, we adopted the theme of looking forwards. What are the essential topics of focus for employers to be considering in 2024?

Well, in case you missed any of them, here’s a summary of our essentials:

  • The Disability Pay Gap – an analysis from the Trades Union Congress discovered that disabled workers effectively work for free for the last 47 days of the year due to the sizable pay gap between disabled and non-disabled workers. With 17.8% of England’s population being disabled, working towards closing this gap should be a priority for organizations so to attract new, diverse talent and to plug talent shortages that continue to effect employers – read the full piece here.
  • Decision Intelligence – for our monthly reading recommendation, we recommended a book that all employers should get their hands on: Decision Intelligence by Thorsten Heilig and Ilhan Scheer. It acts as a practical and comprehensible guide for professionals who are navigating the decision-making and AI landscape by exploring the intersection of behavioral science, data science, and technological innovation. Check out our full summary here!
  • Weaving AI into Learning and Development – Access Partnership’s survey found that 93% of employers expect to be using generative AI in the workplace in the next five years. It has therefore become an essential point of focus for employers to be weaving AI-centric learning and development (L&D) opportunities into their L&D strategies – read the full piece here.
  • Leadership Legacy – with the average turnover rate for leadership roles at an unprecedented 18%, now is the best time for leaders to take a step back from thinking about where they are going next and, instead, take a moment to consider what it is they will be leaving in their wake. The impression that they leave, and the legacy of their practices, can make a big difference to the health of a company – so how do they want to be remembered? Read the full piece here.
  • The HR Fundamentals – Our Founder David Fairhurst identified four key areas of focus that he believes are essential for HR and employers to be preparing for in order to ensure organization sustainability:
    • The Workforce Cliff – the first is the Workforce Cliff, which predicted that around this time, we would start to have more jobs than we had people to fill them. To avoid the cliff’s looming edge, employers must be expanding their search and tapping into all pools of talent…read the full piece here.
    • Humans and Technology – The second point of focus will be the relationship between humans and technology. As organizations begin to introduce generative AI into their workplaces, HR will play a pivotal role in supporting these new technological co-worker relationships in order to successfully optimize its capabilities. Read more here!
    • Redefining Place and Time – With the mass adoption of remote and hybrid working styles, we are seeing the previous boundaries of time differences and geographical distances evaporate, opening companies up to a new, global pool of talent…and to embracing the concept of asynchronous work. Read on for the full piece.
    • The End of Jobs – in order to successfully respond to the rapid increase in the pace of organizational change, employers will begin to recognize that a more flexible and responsive methodology is needed to keep up. This will take shape in the form of adopting a skills-based approach to managing work and workers – read the full piece here.

If you would like to discuss the services we offer in regards to these essentials – or wider areas of HR – please get in touch with us.

Last year, we asked the OrgShakers team what practices and ideologies they thought employers should be leaving behind as they ventured into the new year.

Now, as another year comes to a close, we wanted to see what they believe should be left in 2023 in order to help propel sustainability and growth in the year to come:

  • Victoria Sprenger believes that employers need to leave behind their hesitancy on the use of AI, and instead begin to channel this tool for positive, impactful and productive work – it’s time to start working smart!
  • And with new technology emerging, Sayid Hussein believes employers – especially those in the realm of remote work – must pivot away from outdated technological practices to stay ahead. The key lies in transitioning from multiple communication tools to integrated platforms that merge messaging, video calls, and project management, thereby enhancing efficiency. Outmoded legacy systems should be replaced with modern, cloud-compatible solutions, and the manual handling of data should give way to automated processes powered by AI and machine learning. It’s also crucial to ensure that technology is optimized for mobile use, catering to a flexible and dynamic workforce. Customizable tech solutions are vital in addressing the diverse needs of today’s employees. In the cybersecurity arena, regular, updated training is essential to keep pace with evolving threats, moving beyond traditional physical security measures to comprehensive digital strategies. By embracing these changes, employers can significantly boost the productivity and security of their remote teams, aligning with the fast-paced, digitally-driven work environment that 2024 will definitely bring.
  • Speaking of the realm of remote work, Andy Parsley thinks that employers need to stop treating remote and hybrid working as a ‘problem’. Through 2023, countless politicians and senior business leaders have gone public with their unease about remote and hybrid working, urging workers to “get back to the office”. I hope that in 2024 they’ll come to realize that, managed correctly, these flexible working patterns are better for both workers and their employers. Nick Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford University, estimates that people value the ability to work from home two or three days a week about the same as they would an 8% pay rise. And, if organized effectively, remote working can be good for productivity too. Indeed, there is a growing realization that asynchronous work – work that is done independently from others – is often more productive than synchronized work alongside colleagues in the workplace. So, in 2024 organizations should focus on optimizing the working patterns of their people – and ignore those who are arguing for a retrograde step back to a five-day-a-week, 9-5 culture.
  • Amanda Holland believes that organizations need to stop lamenting the workforce shortage. The world of work is undergoing several transformational changes including the dearth of workers, the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the massive shifting of duties and roles across most industries.  Leading-edge organizations and executives are focused on charting new paths that capitalize on the opportunities coming from these disruptions. They have let go of rehashing how challenging the current workforce shortage has become. Instead, they are acknowledging that traditional talent management strategies have become less productive and it’s time to think ahead, rather than continuing to look behind. 
  • And speaking of talent management, Brittany Burton thinks that it’s time for employers to leave behind quiet quitting. This can be done by engaging their employees, conducting frequent check-ins, encouraging open communication about concerns and actively listening. To combat quiet quitting employers should also address workload issues, promote a positive work environment, think strategically on career path planning, and stay attuned to warning signs such as disengagement, decreased productivity, increased absenteeism or changes in behavior.
  • Finally, Marty Belle believes employers should leave behind the perspective that their organization is colorblind and that differences should be erased. Instead, they must accept the reality that people are diverse, and race, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, nationality, ability, and other dimensions of our differences have significance and will all add to greater organizational success.

If you want to get in touch with us surrounding these points, you can do so here.

And from all of us at OrgShakers, Happy New Year!

After discussing the world of HR consulting with Sarah Hamilton-Gill on her podcast, Leap Into HR Consulting, we moved onto looking at the four fundamental shifts that I predict we will be seeing in the near future that HR professionals need to be preparing themselves for.

The first of these shifts was the Workforce Cliff, and the second was the importance of the relationship between humans and technology. This leads me onto my third fundamental – the redefining of the workplace.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a fundamental reappraisal of both the Place and Time of work. Pre-pandemic, we were seeing the workplace boundaries of time and geography begin to evaporate as businesses were responding to the increasing pace of organizational change. The pandemic, however, catalysed this shift even further and has seen it accelerate on a global scale.

The most obvious impact has been to the Place of work – pre-pandemic, it was relatively unusual for workers to be working remotely, with Pew Research Center discovering that before early 2020 just 7% of workers worked from home full-time. Now, over one-third (35%) are working remotely on a full-time basis, with many more employed on hybrid contracts.

This forced reinvention of the Place of work has now spawned a reappraisal of Time of work. Before lockdown workers synchronized their time with colleagues by working the same set office hours which would be punctuated by face-to-face meetings. However, with the introduction of home working came the ability for these individuals to flex their working hours to accommodate their personal schedules.

This led to the realization that asynchronous work – work that is done independently from others – was not only possible, but often more productive.

So, what are the implications of Place and Time for HR?

Graph showing impact of Place And Time on worker productivity

As Lynda Gratton explores in her book Redesigning Work, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to optimizing Place and Time in the workplace. Instead, HR needs to assess the positives and negatives of each to determine the opportunities that can be created – and the trade-offs that would be made.

And now, as Place and Time become more flexible, so do the importance of policies that are applicable on a global scale. With the boundaries of Place and Time being broken down by remote work, employees can now operate from anywhere in the world, meaning that asynchronous working patterns may soon become the normal style of work. Therefore, employers who are actively engaged with optimizing their Place and Time, as well as harnessing AI-driven technologies to help employees become their best selves, are the ones who will find themselves at a more comfortable distance from the edge of the Workforce Cliff. If you would like to discuss how to begin strategizing – and optimizing – the Place and Time of your workplace, please get in touch with me at david@orgshakers.com

David Fairhurst Orgshakers Founder

David Fairhurst is the Founder of OrgShakers. He is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading HR practitioners and is a respected thought leader, business communicator, and government advisor.

Networking is more than just a practice, it’s a skill. A skill that many employers tend to foster and encourage in their employees, as it can lead to better cohesion, higher productivity, and more expansion opportunities.

Pre-pandemic, internal networking (which is networking amongst your team members) was a seamless practice, as employees were brushing shoulders, poking heads in doors, and having exchanges by the water-cooler. The focus tended to be around external networking (which is networking outside of the organization).

However, with the mass adoption of remote and hybrid working styles, this has affected the basis of networking as a whole. Employees who were once always around each other in an office are now working from home, and as new employees are onboarded, internal networking has become something that requires a lot more conscious effort. This is particularly noticeable amongst Gen Z workers, with only 23% of them saying that remote work was important to them because they felt that they were missing out on important networking and career development opportunities.

For employers, placing emphasis on how to network in the new age can actually be the deciding factor between attracting a potential new candidate. Ensuring that internal and external networking opportunities are available can make a company a more attractive place to work, but this requires employees to understand what this new networking world looks like and how they can operate in it successfully.

Here’s some new ways of networking that employers can promote to their staff:

  • Virtual Coffees – whether you want staff to reach out beyond your immediate network or get to know the wider team, scheduling a virtual coffee catch-up can be a great way of networking in a remote working world. It can be a short, 15-minute discussion with the sole intention of chatting, catching up, and seeing what opportunities are up for grabs. This offers opportunities for direct mentorship, learning, and development.
  • Attend Online Talks/Events – as the working world continues to digitalize, it is now easier then ever to sign up for free webinars, talks, and events that are held entirely remotely. These can be a great way of expanding one’s network and discovering new ideas or potential new business partnerships.
  • LinkedIn is Your Best Friend – encouraging team members to have a LinkedIn presence not only boosts their personal brand, but it boosts the company’s brand too. Ensure that staff are interacting with social media posts and posting updates of their own in order to appeal to the wider LinkedIn network.

And in terms of how employers can create internal networking opportunities, this is where team building days can be a great tool. If you are a company that operates in a hybrid or remote fashion, making that conscious effort to bring the team together outside of the workplace setting can be a great way to breaking down barriers and encouraging inter-networking.

If you would like to discuss how you create networking opportunities as an attraction and expansion strategy, please get in touch with us.

To understand the next step in the evolution of the workplace, we have to start in a place with apparently little or no connection to modern working practices – the middle of the last Ice Age.

Cro-Magnons – the first modern humans – arrived in Europe around 35,000 years ago. Nomadic hunter-gatherers who lived in groups consisting of several families, they were sophisticated toolmakers using spears and flint knives. And, most importantly for our story of workplace evolution, they had sewing needles which they used to fashion clothes from animal skins which kept the ravages of the freezing Ice Age weather at bay.

So, imagine that one dark winter’s night one of our Cro-Magnons hit upon an idea to while away the hours sat round the campfire. They would produce a tapestry on an animal skin – about a yard in width – depicting that year’s key events.

From that point, of course, the yard-a-year tapestry would quickly become an annual tradition with the result that today our 35,000-year-old tapestry would be a few yards short of twenty miles long. So, what would this twenty-mile tapestry show us?

Well, by the time humans even came close to creating the concept of formal work, the tapestry would already be about twelve miles long (which equates to 60% of the history of modern humans). In other words, for the majority of modern human history ‘work’ was simply hunting and gathering – ah, the simple days.

However, after this point, we would begin to see a subtle change in the story on the tapestry. Although hunting and gathering remains the primary means of food production, we begin to see the first indications of animal domestication. This process builds and builds and triggers the Neolithic evolution – which sees the mass shift to agricultural practices and the liberation of the old ways of existence through the creation of trading. Trade, arguably, was the single biggest idea in the history of humankind, as it suddenly allowed for horizons to expand like never before, and people could begin to specialize and innovate in all the ways we now see today.

So, for most of this twenty-mile tapestry, the evolution of the workplace was a very gradual shift over many generations. However, at around the nineteen and three-quatre mile point things began to change and accelerate at a much more rapid pace – the Industrial revolution.

Kickstarted by Jethro Tull’s mechanized seed drill, humans began to invent technology that would enable them to venture away from agriculture and to other new emerging forms of employment. With the need for manual labor in agriculture having been dramatically reduced, workers were given the liberty to pursue a career in something beyond production.

This revolution took the working world by storm – at the dawn of the eighteenth century 76% of the population of England worked in agriculture, but by the mid-twentieth century it was down to just 4%.

And as we began to work in varying jobs, and the labor market expanded and contracted as new innovations and technologies were introduced, that takes us all the way up to today – where technology now plays such a vital role in the mass majority of jobs.

But one thing that we have noticed with the adoption and implementation of mechanization (from conveyor belts to sewing machines to computers) is also this idea that workers are ‘cogs in the mechanism’, and that an ‘optimized’ worker is one who acts like a machine – productive, consistent, and quick. But what happened in those years of technological advancements was that many employers were trying to make people work like machines (sometimes literally, as Ford’s production line proves), when in reality they should’ve been tapping into the key traits that are fundamentally human.

Yet if you look at what is happening now – with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) on a mass scale into the workplace – what we are actually seeing is that we’ve come full circle. We are now trying to make the technology human, and I think that AI is going to be the harbinger for this next step of the evolution of the workplace – the step towards the optimization of our humanity.

The overarching purpose of technological advancements in the workplace has always been to free-up time from repetitive, monotonous tasks so that employees can spend more time doing work that creates greater value for both them and their employer. In essence, the entire reason why we have continued to advance is so that we can get to a point where we have the luxury of time to focus on human capital and unlocking its full capabilities.

And we’re already starting to gradually see this shift on our tapestry; the pandemic had a massive impact on the working world, and sparked a re-evaluation of how we work and why we work. We saw a mindset shift amongst the workforce – a carpe diem effect. Suddenly we were all faced with our own mortality, and this made many realise that if they were going to spend a majority of their life working, they wanted to be doing something they cared about, something that gave them a good work life balance, something that supported them, and something fun.

For employers, this means focusing on workplace strategies that will enable better work-life balance (which improves engagement and reduces burnout), opportunities for job crafting (which creates opportunities for innovation), and support for physical and mental health. These areas are going to become key focal points as the workplace continues to evolve to become people-centric, so for those employers who are already beginning to optimize these, they are going to be ahead of the curve and become some of the most attractive organizations to work for in the market.

Steps are already starting to be taken, but they are baby steps. If you look at our recent poll which sought to discover the most effective way of supporting mental health in the workplace, over half of respondents (55%) cited flexible working, while 23% said mental health days, and 16% chose Employee Assistance Programs.

However, while these are great things, they can almost seem tokenistic. Having an allowance of leave for mental health is good, but is this really support? Same as with flexible working; employees can optimize their time better, but now that they are not physically around their team leaders, it’s harder for managers to be more attentive to someone they only see conditionally through a screen.

So, just as we had maintenance teams that would be on-call to fix any machines that malfunctioned, why should employers not consider the same concept for their people? Having an in-house psychotherapist whose sole responsibility is to support employees and feedback to managers with the appropriate reasonable adjustments will help employers create a real roadmap for support and optimization in the face of mental illness. We are already seeing schools begin to hire full-time counsellors and therapists for this very reason, so why should employers not consider doing the same?

As we continue to weave this tapestry of human history year by year, we can see that the last half mile has seen the most accelerated change. Now, as we begin to adapt the ideology of working smart in a technological and AI-advanced world, employers need to be preparing for the next step in the evolution of the workplace by placing their focus on their people power. That is the key to becoming an organization of tomorrow.

If you would like to discuss all things people strategy, our dedicated team of specialized HR professionals can assist you in all aspects – get in touch with us here.

Emerging from a pandemic which saw a huge shift in mindset for the current workforce, the trend of ‘Quiet Quitting’ surfaced as a way for employees to set boundaries around the work they do and the timeframe they do it in.

Looked at objectively, this was employees taking responsibility for their own work-life balance and a blow to the culture of ‘presenteeism’ – both issues that employers have been trying to tackle for many years.

However, the problem with the term ‘Quiet Quitting’ is that it is inherently negative, suggesting an employee is giving up rather than taking control.

And now, we’re seeing another unhelpful misnomer popping up on social media – the ‘Lazy Girl Job’: a job that can be done remotely, and which offers workers autonomy by having a manager who measures their performance based on output rather than input.

The problem with describing these roles as “Lazy Girl Jobs” is that as the pace of organizational change continues to accelerate, many employers are starting to recognize that they need a more flexible and methodological approach to work. This is seeing companies increasingly adopting a skills-based approach to managing work and workers, and slowly moving away from the rigidity of a ‘job’.

In a report published by Deloitte, it was discovered that while 93% of organizations believed that moving away from the ‘job’ construct is very important to their success, only 20% of organizations felt very ready to actually address this movement. What the ‘lazy girl job’ actually represents is a step towards skills-based, flexible working, whereas the idea of it, and its implications, are seeing employers take two steps back.

So, we are seeing the same problem we saw with ‘Quiet Quitting’ – a ‘Lazy Girl Job’ implies that working remotely is lazy, whereas in reality half of employees feel more productive when working from home and are able to operate beyond the constraints of time and geographical differences.

These misnomers catch on because they are utilizing irony, but this irony may be doing more harm than good. Work-life balance, healthy boundaries around start and finishing times, and remote working are all positive tools that employers can use to improve the performance of their employees, but dressing them up as ‘quitting’ and ‘lazy’ fuels the ideology of presenteeism and stunts the transformational progress of this organizational change.  

Instead, employers need to focus on the fact that the way people want to work is continuing to change, expand, and evolve at an exponential rate, and this is only gaining velocity as a new generation flock into the workplace. While these buzzwords represent real call-to-actions for employers and highlight key areas of focus for attraction and retention, it is important that the meaning behind them isn’t misconstrued just because they have been labelled lazily.

If you would like to discuss how we can help support and guide you in your journey of organizational change, please get in touch with us.

Hybrid and remote work have been the talk of the town the last few years. This highly successful alternative work style is a fantastic demonstration of corporate perseverance, resilience, and adaptability.

And yet, while many businesses have been operating like this since 2020, a recent study from Microsoft found 85% of leaders said the shift to hybrid work has made it hard to be confident that employees are being productive. Even though 87% of workers report performing better at home, only 12% of employers have full confidence their team is being productive.  

Subsequently dubbed ‘productivity paranoia’, it’s clear a large proportion of leaders may be struggling (even though employee satisfaction for hybrid work is extremely high, and from an economic perspective businesses have become arguably more profitable).

Why are some employers plagued by this paranoia, and how can they begin to mitigate their concerns?

It’s not uncommon for managers to encounter paranoia in one form or another during their career.  Important to note is that while hybrid and remote work has proven effective, the way it came to be was not traditional. Companies felt pressured to adopt this way of life due to COVID-19. When change feels forced it can be much more difficult to work through any accompanying negative feelings. For example, a person’s supervisory routine might be intensely disrupted, and suddenly they must learn what it means to supervise a group of people who are no longer physically around them.

It can be challenging to modify engrained work habits, especially when the need to address them comes as an urgent surprise. In addition, the concept of presenteeism has been rooted in corporate culture for decades, which makes it a hard habit to change even though we now know it is inherently flawed: being able to physically see someone does not guarantee they are more productive than when they can’t be seen.   

For leaders who are experiencing productivity concerns related to hybrid or remote work options, it may be time to step back, dig deep, and honestly explore what truly disturbs them about this situation. The answer could reveal a lack of trust in the team, reluctance to embrace change, or singular focus on the performance of one team member.

To help identify the root cause of why a leader or manager might push back on hybrid or remote work solutions, HR professionals can suggest they complete a Johari Window, or an Immunity Map Worksheet. These steps can help managers focus their thoughts and address specific concerns.

It is also key for HR to determine whether this is a potential coaching or organizational culture matter. For example, managers may develop productivity paranoia based on the inequitable nature of remote work within a company. Companies frequently have a variety of positions, some of which are able to work remotely and others that cannot. This may lead to divisiveness in the workplace and a manager may be resistant not because of the remote work itself, but rather the rising contention and its echoing effects on the harmony of the company.

HR plays a key role in helping employers manage productivity paranoia. Whether it be from a leader optimization or a culture cohesion perspective, we are integral to helping leaders unlock the people power in their organizations.

To discuss how OrgShakers can help you do this, please get in touch with me at amanda@orgshakers.com

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