Experimenting to Find a New Normal
We’ve all read and heard about how organizations are planning for their “new normal.” Some teams, working groups, or organizations plan to be fully remote, some hybrid (whatever that means to them), and some will be fully in-person.
What We Want, As of Now
Surveys indicate that employees may want more remote days than their organizations want employees to have. Employees want flexibility (or autonomy) whereas organizations (and employees) want predictability and a way to create and maintain engagement and culture.
We’re All Learning
The reality is that we’re all learning, and it will take a while to find the new normal that works for employees, for their teams, for cross-functional and serendipitous interactions, and for the organization as a whole. In fact, the new normal may not be a static state, but may change over time as new employees are onboarded, organizations have new demands and initiatives, and as economic changes occur. Thus, the new normal may be dynamic.
Given we are taking part in this grand experiment, we want to keep track of the ways it’s working for us as individuals, for our team or working group, and for our organizations. As we head out into the world differently than we have during COVID, keep track, prospectively of how things are going with your work schedule and where you work:
What’s working well? Why?
What isn’t working so well? Why?
Where could things be improved? How?
Where do you wish things would stay the same? Why?
You may find that things improve over time. Or not. You may find after performance reviews that there’s disagreement about how you’re doing or how direct reports are doing—perhaps because you’re looking at different metrics or markers than they are.
Unless everyone in the organization is fully in-person, one thing that’s clear is the leaders and managers have to get better at figuring out how best to evaluate employees who they don’t see in person as much as they see others. Too often, butt-in-seat has been taken as a measure of dedication, engagement, and as a contributor to or proxy for performance. When employees work from home, managers must figure out new ways of evaluating employees’ performance. And employees may want to put a different type of focus into their professional development if they are remote part-time or full time. Activities that are easier when everyone is in person can inadvertently fall off with hybrid or remote work.
Consider the ways you want to grow:
What skills or subject matter do you want to learn or deepen?
What challenges do you want?
Make time for professional development conversations. People can’t know what you want if you don’t tell them.
Make time for casual conversations with no agenda; get to know your colleagues in a new way.
We’ll need to keep track of what’s working well and what isn’t, and for whom. The new normal is change.