Take a moment to pat yourselves on the back, you survived 2020! It was quite a bumpy ride, wasn’t it?
Although it’s a fresh new year, many of us are still fully grappling with the consequences of the pandemic and a shaky economy. Countless companies were forced to shutter storefronts and offices and pivot to a fully online business.
“Covid-safe” protocols are still present in work and life and will likely continue to through 2021. So while it’s a new year, we’re not out of the weeds yet.
What we do know is that the world of work is radically changed – in many ways, permanently.
Embrace the 2021 workplace
As we know, 2020 was one giant curveball: a worldwide pandemic, a recession, political turmoil, social movements, natural disasters, the list goes on.
We are fully immersed in a “new normal” and it has changed how we work and how we can be most productive.
“Traditional” workplaces are no longer traditional. Stanford reports that the new work-from-home economy has 42% of all workers nationwide working from home. This often brings the challenge of separating “work” and “personal” when both are done from home-sweet-home.The two have become entirely enmeshed.
From all-hours team messages, Zoom fatigue, child care time conflicts (or downright teaching from home), how teams work, both virtually and on-site, has changed. For in-office workers, between requiring PPE, mandating temperature checks, navigating new sick leave protocol – the challenges remain.
It’s likely that at least some of your business processes have become digital permanently and you’re maintaining remote work even after the pandemic is over. It’s possible that employee feedback has encouraged you to start looking at hybrid work models: where half the week your team meets in the office and the other half the week, your team works from home.
How to thrive in this new world of work
Get right to it: Does your workplace serve your team members?
Some team members may not step foot into your office for a long period of time, so we can no longer promote the same irrelevant in-office benefits we used to.
Gone are the days of companies that tout their office ping pong table, endless plethora of free fresh fruits and snacks, or the infamous “kombucha on tap” perk.
Forget the “open space floor plan” mantra. These practices are not compelling into today’s work world – in fact, they now come off as tone deaf.
Instead, be real: how can you support your team with what they actually care about?
Do you offer flexible work hours?
Do you offer mental health allowances?
How can you support parents who may have children at home?
How are you building company culture during these challenges?
Do you offer a work environment that encourages opportunities for career advancement?
Taking care of your teammates first will lead to loyalty and engagement.
Set clear goals and get team buy-in
The more teams can be aligned and engaged with common goals, especially in our virtual work world, the more effective teams will work. Set clear goals then repeat them constantly.
Get real with the impact the team will have. Employees, now more than ever, need security in how they’ll get their next paycheck, what they’ll be working on, how they will be able to progress along their career path, and most importantly, how their efforts contribute to the larger mission.
Zone in on the impact of your teammates’ roles by creating quantifiable goals with timelines for completion. Always tie these goals back to the company mission so that it becomes the point from which all efforts are generated.
Allow team members to work from where they are most efficient
With today’s new work landscape and the challenges of in-office operations, consider being more flexible than usual. SHRM reports that productivity is the same, if not higher, than it was before the pandemic for remote workers.
It behooves your team to be open to as many qualified applicants as possible — with varying work backgrounds, years experience, and now, remote possibilities.
Don’t miss out on your next rockstar because they don’t live in your city. Your team may be used to remote work now, consider keeping and hiring hardworking remote workers into 2021 and beyond.
New Year, new workplace best practices
It’s still a moving target on exactly how to thrive in 2021. But one thing is for sure, we must embrace the “New Workplace” the right way. Here’s what we can work on:
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Schedule regular team meetings. Encourage open, free-flowing communication and building cross-department relationships. Have your cameras on in virtual meetings to encourage human connection and respect everyone’s time by sticking to the timeframe of the meeting and wrapping up with action items.
2. Become Project Management Masters
With employees managing multiple projects at once and inevitably being pulled in various directions by both work and distractions at home, getting organized and focused is the way to win. Basecamp, Asana, ClickUp, and Trello are just a few of the many project management tools available. Find one that fits your needs and make sure everyone is properly trained.
3. Trust Your Team
As the old saying goes: Hire great people and get out of their way. Provide the training and tools needed for teams to succeed, check in regularly, and set expectations from the start. Having an awesome onboarding experience is the primary factor in employee retention, so be sure to set them up for success.
Setting clear goals allows teams to know where to focus their energy and how they’re performing. Tracking outcomes over hours will help you measure success a lot more efficiently.
You can do this!
Challenges will come in 2021, but we’re smarter and more efficient now than we were at this time last year. The workplace has changed, but our resilience, motivation, and spirit hasn’t. Choose to fully embrace 2021 and the new opportunities it brings for growth and team alignment.