Work life feels messy. Yes, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and are starting to cme back together in person, but what does the future hold for how we work together? In conversation with the AAR and the creative industry last week, it was clear there are more questions than answers. We found that:

  • 35% of the attendees’ primary concern was employee engagement. With 46% of employees planning to make a major pivot or career transition in the next year (2021 Microsoft Work Trend Index), it is a clear priority.
  • 39% of attendees’ primary concern was how to make hybrid working work.

We are in uncharted territory and with a significant opportunity to reimagine how we work together, to create something better – a way of working that brings out the best in all. Yes, it’s messy, but it’s full of possibility. I believe a healthy and productive working future will be created through conversation.

Meg Wheatley, in her principles for building healthy communities, provides insight to shape how we approach this challenge of reimagining work, and creating healthy communities within it. Her first 5 principles are:

  • People support what they create
  • People act responsibly when they care
  • Conversation is the way human beings have always thought
  • To change the conversation, change who is in it
  • Expect leaders to come from anywhere

Our way forward is to create space for different conversations with different people, to co-create how we work together. The role of leadership is evolving, to be space makers for these conversations rather than coming up with the answers or policies – empowering people to define their own solutions. “We all need to be better at adaptive challenges which don’t have obvious answers, which can’t be solved with expertise or just from the top, but from the whole organisation.” Professor Herminia Ibarra, London Business School.

The conversation needs to be broad; all teams work in a wider eco-system and if that wider eco-system can be represented in, for example, the hybrid conversation, it will enable a more creative and sustainable solution to be found. For example, in the conversation with the creative industry last week, we explored who might be included:

  • The voices that are not normally heard in the agency
  • The wider network if they are part of one, other agency partners and clients – all of whom are grappling with the same questions. How can we connect those conversations?

Alongside this, how can we represent time in the conversation? What does the future require from this team and company? What in the future is going to shape how we work together? Finding a way to incorporate the future in the conversation at this table will lead to more sustainable solutions.

Conversation will create a culture that people will care about. Let’s talk together.

Image: Ferenc Horvath

The Messy Middle – How Do We Work Together Moving Forward?

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