Working norms: What is normal  now?

Making sure employees and organizations are positioned to thrive together

Behaviors and expectations have changed during the pandemic and continue to impact ways of working.    

You’ve seen the hashtags — #QuietQuitting, #Burnout, #WFH, #RTW, #HybridWork.

In the rush to label these changing behaviors into pithy social media posts, the real story is being overlooked. 

When the world moved remote to protect against the pandemic, working norms changed overnight. Organizations had to create a different work culture that kept people connected, purpose-driven, and delivering on business results. 

Now, as a new phase begins, there is confusion and disconnection about what normal work means now. 

This moment opens an opportunity to re-visit ways of working to create connection, purpose, and a sense of belonging. This is an opportunity to embrace ways of working that benefit individuals and business strategy. 

Where to start?

Start with people. 

  • Be intentional about defining organizational and individual working norms.
  • Ask people when and how they like to work. Knowing if a colleague is a morning person or a night owl can help understand when they do their best work.
    • Who do they need to get work done? 
    • Who needs them to be effective in their job? 
    • Who has similar needs? How can they connect?
  • Schedule time to check in with individuals and as a team. 
    • Determine what’s working. 
    • Be honest about what isn’t. Maybe video meeting fatigue is hindering productivity. Why? 
  • Consider an ideation session with hybrid tools, such as Mural, for brainstorming sessions virtually and in-person.
  • Prepare for virtual and in-person accommodations when planning ways of working, especially meetings. 

The overall focus is developing working norms for individuals, the team, and the organization, to avoid miscommunication about expectations, for instance. The process also fosters a sense of belonging for people who feel that their opinions are heard. When applied across a team, this can open new ways of connecting and working together.

What about business outcomes?

Business results suffer when there is a disconnect of individual and organizational working norms. Employees whose needs aren’t being met will languish – so will organizations. 

Reimagining work can create significant value realization and business growth, such as:

  • Liberating staff hours through simplified work processes that reduce costs
  • Optimizing staffing and operating models as result of redesigned work
  • Avoiding consequences and interruptions related to work processes, driving more productivity
  • Determining how to ideate and engage to uncover additional opportunities

While the answers to what is “normal” work for organizations and individuals will vary, establishing working norms that take into consideration the needs of both the organization and individuals will produce better business results and higher employee engagement. 

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