Women and Work

Build Back Better: What lessons from disaster recovery can teach us about curating our future of work post-COVID19

We wanted to take stock and share our learnings over the last weeks on how we have seen leaders react to the crisis.

Joel McInnes, CEO & Co-Founder of FlexCareers, and Maja Paleka, FlexReady Partner, ran an informative webinar yesterday how to Build, Back, Better. (You can watch a recording of the webinar here.)

The term “Build Back Better” (BBB) emerged following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. A notion that opportunity presented itself in the reconstruction process after a disaster, to create a new resilient state of normalcy. Or, as Maja and Joel said, slightly tongue in cheek, “Never waste a good crisis.”

In terms of business continuity and talent, the webinar focused specifically on how to build back better talent initiatives to future-proof business.

What FlexCareers has seen

We wanted to take stock and share our learnings over the last weeks on how we have seen leaders react to the crisis. It’s been a essentially a beautiful response to see CEOs leaning in with empathy and compassion.

There has also been a marked increase in trust and engagement in the workplace and it’s worth exploring and noting what is causing this increase in trust. There’s an element of a forced situation – I have no choice but to trust, and a element of increase in community spirit and compassion to achieve a common goal, business continuity. Focusing on these elements in the workplace and noting down the success factors will help guide future initiatives.

Current climate

Whilst we are still in the adrenalin/reactive mode, things have also changed. The future of work is now the new world of work – we are in it now – so what can we do to build back better in this time of transition? We really need to ensure that we hold onto to both modes so that we can think programmatically about what we need, can and should do.

There are three connected phases – now, transition and BBB. For now, Google and Facebook are good examples of how businesses are trying to straddle the phases, by extending remote working until the end of the year and may other tech giants are either extending remote work for another few months and/or offering extended leave for employees managing the crisis.

Path to get to BBB

Transition phase

As we try and get back to our usual places of work and the new normal, there are a few fundamental hurdles that we need to get over, such as; CV_19 testing for employees, office hygiene, physical distancing continuity, fears of public transport. HR and facilities need to come together to work through managing risk.

BBB phase

“Who do you want to be?” As we move through the transition phase it’s crucial to keep a BBB perspective.

Going back to the opportunity of never wasting a good crisis, it’s important to recognise the learnings gained throughout the last few weeks and take time to focus on them individually. Be cognizant that you don’t lose the needs of your people in the transition.

So, think about the WHY in building back better? What are the preferences of your people here – there need to be choice in how they work, rather than it being prescriptive.

Bring it to life. Policy is not enough – have a strategy and a framework that is aligned through the organisation. How frontline managers and leaders execute and manage through this phase is imperative – they will need to provide vision and strategy.

BBB for business continuity

Joel used the example of Amazon announcing CV-19 testing for every employee, effectively making it the only CV_19-safe supply chain in the world (for now).  Testing will also make it safe for customers and employees alike, which is true BBB business continuity. Genius.

As trust has become more prevalent, certifications and accreditations are going to become invaluable.  In Amazon’s case ‘Safe place to work, safe place to buy’ might be the latest certification as a result of the crisis.

So, as you start to think about you BBB, what do you want your current and future talent to have faith in?


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