Diversity & Inclusion

Dear CEOs: here’s what we need from you after COVID-19

Over the weekend, ScoMo asked you to start preparing your workplace to open again, and now the QLD Premier talk about easing restrictions.

Dear CEOs,

Over the weekend, ScoMo asked you to start preparing your workplace to open again, and now the QLD Premier talk about easing restrictions. It’s great news, and although no-one is getting complacent, we’re at the first stage of what will hopefully be a swift-ish move back to the new normal.

In about a month’s time, your team will likely be back together again, in their offices, or the worksites or the factories. Perhaps not all together at the same time – you might be asked to do a ‘red team at home, blue team in the office’ rotation for a while – but certainly heading in that direction.

I know you’ve likely had your HRD talk to you about the future of work in the past, but this time it’s for real. If your business has remained open over these past four weeks in lockdown, your people will have already been working differently:

  • Remote work
  • Lots of different sorts of work arrangements that look like flexible working (but of course, there’s nothing flexible about working inside quarantine)
  • Leaders having to manage to outcomes because they don’t have any visibility over the inputs
  • Parents having to juggle home-schooling AND work at the same time (parenting just lost its aura of invisibility)
  • Different communications strategies to let leaders and their teams understand the whole person on the other side of the video call, and hopefully showing radical kindness to each other in these circumstances
  • And TRUST – that’s been the big one. “If I can’t see you, how do I know you’re working?”

Here’s the real question – what do you want that new normal to look like as we march forward in the post COVID-19 world?

The future of work starts in about a month – you’ve got a massive opportunity, but there’s no time to waste.

Your HR team has been talking to you about the future of work for the longest time. But it’s different this time.

It’s real. It’s here and now.

You’ve just had the ultimate stress test of all the new ways of working you could have ever imagined. Some worked, some need more work. And by the time everything is back to normal(ish), your people will have different expectations on you as an employer. And so will your potential employees out in the open market – they will want to know more than ever what they will be getting into before trusting you with their careers.

The last time things felt this bad was in 2008 and it was all about your balance sheet. Leverage was the dirty word, and you had to lean on your CFO. This time it’s about people. Safety, trust and relationships are what really matter now. This time, you need to lean on your HR Director.

So here’s what you need to do.

Give HR a licence to effect the sorts of change they feel is right.

They are experts here. Let them work out which pieces of the new ways of working you’ve been forced to try are right for your future of work. Back them to make the right calls, and then get out of the way.

Take a lesson from the disaster recovery industry – the phrase they use is “Build Back Better”.

Don’t let the crisis go to waste. Your HR team are really good at this stuff. Give them their time to shine.

You’ve got an amazing opportunity to say what the future of work looks like for your organisation. Don’t mess it up.


The rest of us.


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