Like Willie Nelson sang “on the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again”. And doesn’t it feel like that – the wind in our hair, the ability to plan and not have to worry about restricting our movements?
The vast majority of us are feeling just that, after two years of lockdown, restrictions, disconnections, illness, setbacks, change, loneliness, hardship and for some even sadness and grief. We have turned a corner now and can start looking forward, albeit with a sense of care and precaution.
Few if any of us have been left untouched. The majority of our working arrangements took a complete overnight turnabout. Business owners, companies, management and individuals were faced with uncertainty, confusion, lack of clarity, risk, and more importantly an immediate need to solve the most urgent issues. How do I work from home, how can we give our people the tools and skills to change overnight and still meet our business and customer needs, how do we keep everyone safe?.
But we did it and we learned to work differently, engage and manage people and ourselves in ways we would never have considered before. What is fascinating is that the past two years have actually benefitted some of us. For those who rose to the challenge, they’ve used it as an opportunity to develop and grow.
Now the wheels are back on the wagon, we have come full circle and we can get “on the road again”, but the journey will not be the same in most cases. One such multinational company we worked closely with had to face all of the above challenges, had to lock up shop, send their people home and fully operate on a work from home basis. Back in those bleak days of March 2020, they had to hit the ground running and make fast decisions, learn new skills, overcome obstacles and think outside the box to continue. And this is something we were happy to work alongside them with.
Today they’re ready and excited to bring that journey back to where it started and they’re putting their Return to Work structure and policy in place.
We at 3SIXTY were asked to help them scope out and put that structure in place and it was our pleasure to work with them on that journey. But what is very interesting is that it’s the work they did throughout the pandemic and the trust and strong culture they built which is now benefitting them as they see their employees return to the workplace.
From the outset we could see they had a strong culture in place, a great network of solid leaders and engaged people. It is what sustained them through the pandemic.
One of the concerns they spoke about was how to retain and build on that, how would they continue to engage with their people, plan what the future model should look like, retain their strong workforce and encourage new recruits to what would be the future for the company. Questions like people, growth, opportunity, wellbeing, productivity, compliance, client needs and the business owners (head office) all had to be considered and explored.
Ultimately this company wanted to learn from their experiences of the pandemic and how it could inform their Return to Work. 3SIXTY met the senior management team and we set up working groups to identify how best to identify and implement a model that would fit across varying functions and team sizes. Using this and feedback from all teams we assessed their experiences over the pandemic and expectations for the future. Added to this we did a the 3SIXTY Pulse Check which proved hugely beneficial.
We then worked with the teams and leaders over a number of groups and individual leadership sessions to focus on how this could be delivered. We challenged the groups to debate, analyse and agree the model, ensuring the fundamental issues had been considered i.e. physical environment, tools and equipment, flexibility, growth and opportunity, support i.e. training and development.
3SIXTY then documented the new structure clearly defining all the parameters and delivered it along with a communications document. This document would be key to acknowledging the feedback the company had received from its people, outlining the process undertaken in concluding the blending model as the best structure for all stakeholders and ensuring the future model would be properly communicated at all levels.
The data we gathered allowed us to build out the framework for a new working model, which in this case was a blended model, a mix of working from home and office environment. It was recognised that bringing the teams and leaders on the journey would be vital for future success.
What is great from this piece of work were the learnings the company experienced on the journey. These learnings have allowed them to establish greater levels of trust, more engaged communication and deeper insights and with the support of our Pulse Check, it has fed into their teams’ motivators.
It was very encouraging for the 3SIXTY team to get positive feedback from the company. They were honest in admitting that they simply could not have achieved their goal without our input and expertise. They acknowledged our approach had value not only from a resource and time management time point of view but it proved vitally effective having us as an independent ear and voice with the Pulse survey, group and leadership sessions.
This journey has for now been concluded until we meet again, and Return to Work strategy for the company is clearly mapped out, all passengers on board and the road ahead looking bright.
The End….. or is it the beginning…………………..
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