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By Sarah P.
It's an arduous process, moving a heavily remote workforce back into the building, and it is a move that will affect all employees, regardless of telework status. Employees have questions. “Where will I sit when I come back?" “Am I allowed to take my mask off if I'm physically distancing?" “How much equipment will I need to travel with when coming into the office?"
In short, it's an adjustment. There are many considerations to make.
For example, craft employees learned where and when to reach individuals in the office after an adjustment was made to remote work. Some WAPA employees have grown accustomed to multitasking during the virtual meetings that became more prevalent during COVID-19. Some employees would prefer to stay 100% remote, and some would prefer to be in the office more. How can one organization respond to the preferences of all its employees?
The answer is simple: It can't. It can, however, strive for flexibility and allow its employees to find a happy medium that empowers them to work together to get things done. WAPA's answer to a flexible workplace is the Future of Work Pilot.
The Future of Work
The Future of Work Pilot is a six-month workplace pilot program, which defines the most flexible workplace option as 80% telework. It is WAPA's response to realized capabilities with remote work – increased productivity, for example – as well as employee preferences for flexible workplaces and the desire to have tangible relationships throughout the organization.
WAPA has put together a team to identify the maximum-possible telework posture for each position, as well as policies, procedures and training to support a larger hybrid workforce.
This pilot is meant to assess gaps; recommend systems, training and practices; propose policy updates as the need arises; develop a communication and change management plan; and develop metrics to assess the pilot in terms of telework use, performance, culture and more.
Perhaps the most important part of this pilot is that it is meant to assess how this new posture works for the organization and make recommendations based on what it finds.
Future of Work will be sending pulse surveys to the organization on a regular basis. Make your opinions and experiences known during these surveys, as it's one of the most crucial ways to contribute to future policies and procedures at WAPA.
As with any major organizational change, there will be resistance, doubt and a lot of adjustment. Many people have found they enjoy remote work. Some will be hesitant to go into the office and others will be extremely excited.
That being said, WAPA has a lot to consider. The organization must be prepared for productivity to be temporarily disrupted as employees adjust to the new normal. The Change Management Curve illustrates what most organizations can expect when implementing something new. Individuals, teams and organizations can be in the middle of the exact same change but find themselves somewhere different on this spectrum, and that's okay.
It's understandable and even predicted that we may be saying things like, “I don't see this happening." When people say things like that, it often means, “I don't see this happening without significant struggle." They'd be right. It may also mean, “…and I don't want to do it." That's understandable. Why fix what's broken?
But that's not necessarily the point of change. If we never tried anything new, we'd still have regular flip phones.
WAPA's re-entry is not expected to be seamless. We know that everyone will have different comfort zones when it comes to social distancing and other concerns.
Communicating and enforcing boundaries will take some getting used to. Each employee has different social needs, productivity capabilities and processes that they feel comfortable with when it comes to hybrid work.
The Future of Work pilot will be taking note of these adjustments and making recommendations for the future. Be sure to make your thoughts and experiences known when Future of Work sends its pulse surveys to WAPA employees.
All we can expect to do is our best.
Note: The author is a leadership development specialist.