One of the things we have found is that different businesses approach the subject in different ways. Many will have different starting points; there will be different factors which will interest and engage them; and they will have different ways of developing their own desired outcomes from the process.
Many of the businesses we work with recognise the paradoxes that are being experienced in the competing demands they face. Our research identified 13 distinct Paradoxes – they are listed in the image opposite – and this is often a good starting point for developing conversations about how we start to step towards a Workplace of Tomorrow.
Our research also identified 7 key Principles which can help to shape The Workplace of Tomorrow – these are listed in the image below to the left. If people and planet matter, then we need to start thinking about how we work in different ways.
To assist people coming to these issues afresh, we thought it might be useful to set out some of the differing ways that organisations we work with have begun to make their own steps forward.
Everyone’s experience is different and we hope that the examples below may help you with your own questions and journeys towards a Workplace of Tomorrow.
1) Commission a Health-check
One of the best places to start considering these issues, can be to look inside at your own organisation – how does it operate, what do you get right and what could be better? Are the ethos and the values that you aspire to being lived out in reality?
Commissioning a health-check is not only a good way of seeing where you are, but also a good way of discerning where you want to go.
2) Develop Leaderful Behaviour
Developing individuals within an organisation on a one-to-one level, can help the wider business flourish – we know that when staff are more engaged, they will not only feel greater ownership of their work but also be more likely to take on greater responsibility. This can help develop a more leaderful culture throughout an organisation, rather than decisions being solely focused at the top of a business’s hierarchy. Perhaps start with your key decision-makers, but understand the wealth of talent there is throughout your organisation.
Rather than job-related training, what we offer helps people stay alive to the dynamics of what is happening throughout the organisation and how they can influence change in a meaningful way, challenging what might be deeply-held beliefs and assumptions.
Having a dialogue with Oasis can help those with most responsibility in your organisation have a confidante or critical friend they can use as a sounding board for the challenges they face – someone who understands the inevitable desire to reach for more than you can grasp is how we all live. Finding a powerful and realistic way forward can often emerge from having fierce and supportive conversations.
3) Find an Exciting and Stretching Question
To understand how your organisation functions, sometimes you need to go deeper, undertaking qualitative research but also setting up inquiry methods that directly involve people at all levels.
We believe in the importance of Whole Person learning – understanding that people have different interests, skills and experiences that inform their daily working lives, but also that people have emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical needs which also need to be considered and embraced.
When establishing inquiry, it is important that the questions and learning come from within the organisation. And that any personal development is informed by self and peer assessment. Working with colleagues to define a way forward through shared learning and shared experience. When you find an exciting and stretching question, you’ll often find exciting and stretching answers.
Taking a fresh look at what makes your organisation tick as a whole. What are the fundamentals and constants of the business? How do they interact? How healthy are they? What can be done to develop them in an integrated way?
Listening to the values and recognising the purpose of an organisation can be an effective way of seeking how to move forward together, calling on and utilizing the skills and experiences of people within the business.
Making a self-diagnosis of individual, team and organisation can be a good way of determining how to move forward, in collaboration with others. Effective relationships and developing individual and group capacity can help with managing ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity.
As well as understanding the values and purpose of an organisation, it is important to also recognise the part that resilience, relationship and renewal have to play in shaping the future for the way a business works and develops.
5) Work With What’s Hot!
Often an organisation will decide to take action to seek establishing a Workplace of Tomorrow due to a pressing issue that is effecting and impacting on their business as an organisation.
Whilst that one issue may be the catalyst for engaging in reflection and renewal, it is usual that underneath the surface there will be other factors that need to be addressed and considered – however the single issue will be the one that pushes the organisation to make a first step towards deeper engagement.
For example, it might be that workplace absences, sickness and low morale mean that a business recognises a new direction or approach is necessary – however, as well as addressing the short-term problems of improving people care, it might be that wider long-term organisational change is needed.
Greater engaging with the needs of an organisation is a good way of opening up discussion and debate to seek for a more effective way of working. It is important to tackle the causes of problems that arise within a business, not only the symptoms of the challenges faced on a day-to-day basis.