We are at a fascinating, unique time as every one of our organizations faces change in response to and triggered by a global pandemic. The change is at the same time the most individual and collective we have ever experienced. Prosci tackled the challenges in a uniquely Prosci way—by collaborating with our change communities and clients to identify the challenges ahead of us and adaptations we can make to deliver outcomes on today’s most critical changes. The lessons we are learning can help you support your organizations and people through change as we return to the workplace and re-imagine what the workplace of the future will mean.
Once you understand how people must show up differently, you will determine how to support adoption. Conducting a force field analysis with an ADKAR Canvas is an efficient way to do that quickly. Prosci’s ADKAR Quick-Start Guides are also helpful resources, and they're pre-populated with common COVID-19 challenges.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of our return to the workplace is that we are now fundamentally redesigning the workplace. Our work engaging with strategic change leaders has revealed that the involuntary digital transformation we all went through has made “place” more arbitrary. Work can be done anywhere. Organizations are now adopting hybrid models where 20% to 60% of work that used to be on premises will stay off premises. We are created hybrid workplaces.
What aspects of your work might be changed because of the pandemic? Meetings, travel, printing and use of paper, real estate footprints, and cybersecurity will all be affected.
What does this mean for culture, leadership, hiring and onboarding? What does this do to the employee experience? Customer expectations and experience will certainly shift. Being thoughtful about how “place” matters is important to understanding what the hybrid workplace will look like for you.
Aspects of the Hybrid Workplace OS
How will we virtualize the practice of change management in this new, hybrid world? How will practitioners adapt our methodology, tools and engagement approach? We know that sponsors and people managers are the face and voice of change—the two most important groups of actors in a change organization. How do sponsors fulfill the ABCs? How do people managers adapt their CLARC roles? This is uncharted territory. We're just starting our research to build a body of knowledge on this front, in part through collaborating with change practitioners like you.
Given what we know about how human beings change, as well as our discussions with strategic change leaders, we anticipate shifts in these areas:
The fourth area we identified involves empowering senior leaders and people managers to lead in the new reality. After engaging with change practitioners and strategic change leaders from the advisory board and different groups, we realized there are three roles the change practitioner is stepping into right now. The first is influencing the return to the workplace from a more strategic seat, influencing decisions about how to bring our organization physically back together. The second involves applying change management to return-to-the-workplace changes, such as putting arrival procedures and health checks in place. And the third focuses on adapting your change management practice to the new hybrid environment, including those non-return-related changes such as the ERP that had been paused. Change practitioners have a unique opportunity to help their organizations build agility and deliver results in a rapidly changing environment.
Although these four areas offer critical insights, discussions are not enough. Strategic investment in change management and organizational capability will deliver the outcomes organizations need right now. Every organization, including yours, will have a set of plays in their playbook for the return-to-workplace changes. Those who understand that success depends not on the plays themselves, but how well we get our people to execute them are the organizations that will triumph.
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Tim Creasey is Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer and a globally recognized leader in change management. His work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results.
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