Organisational agility is a strategic comparative because the world we live in is changing even as we know. Businesses propelling forward require strategy, mission and work are now swirled by technologies, industries, new skills, customer and employee experiences, sustainability and demographics. We have all these compressions that are now swirling around creating tension and pressure, plus the need to get more agile and nimble as an organisation. So that was what the landscape looked like until December 2019. Then when the 1st quarter of 2020 turned the world into a turmoil, organisations are now forced to dispose or suspend all their agendas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Experts and practitioners could now step in and support the communal change that is going on within these 3 domains. The first ring of change is the direct response to Covid-19. This includes social isolation, social distancing, hand washing, being responsible for personal hygiene. These are the immediate actual direct response to the virus which is plaguing our planet.
The next ring of change is the organisation’s response to our communal response to Covid-19. Once we moved to self-isolation and social distancing, now the organisation has a whole of changes precipitating out of that initial response. So now your organisational response to the initial response includes how do we help staff excel at being virtual employees, how to empower virtual work and teams, how to help staff to seamlessly shift their focus as we rapidly redeploy resources.
The last ring of change is the organisational specific changes to shape us into our new future state. Many of these actions are still to be determined (TBD). However, during these unprecedented times, organisations now require heaps of planning, transitioning and adapting to the new norm, as the Covid-19 pandemic could forever change the way we work. The new normal now requires more people working remotely from home, which in turn permits organisations to provide access to co-working spaces. This feasible arrangement is essentially better rather than having the majority of their workforce at one central office. This Covid-19 pandemic has also become a technological equalizer whereby staff who previously were unaccustomed to using tech tools at the workplace have now had no choice but to adapt and transform. Thus, many virtual meetings, board discussions, business presentations are being carried out online.
Renowned organisational psychologist, Professor Adam Grant from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the author of “Originals: How Non-conformist Move The World (2016)” predicts that co-workers will abandon previous messaging habits and actually get up, walk around and visit each other after they are allowed to return to the office. Office bonds could flourish among colleagues who relied on each other during the pandemic and got to know one another on a more personal level. However, physical interaction among colleagues like handshakes, pat on backs and friendly hugs are out. Other sociable gestures such as a nod or a smile that convey friendliness and respect from a distance, could instead become the new social norm. As the new norm includes wearing a face mask, this will enable us to intensify our eye contact and listening skills.
In March 2020, Prosci (the global leader in change management with the famous ADKAR Model) even transformed their 3-day certification for practitioners to a virtual 3-day certification experience. This is not the usual watching videos via YouTube course but an immersive application based experiential programme that happens to take place remotely.
Looking at the future, as digital and virtual work become the new norm; demand for skilled workers would increase along with their remunerations. The contributions of frontliners especially those in the hospitals, armed forces, delivery and courier services are now more highly valued than before. However, many low-paid workers, daily-waged entrepreneurs and Small and Medium Industries (SMEs) are likely to see their income eroded even further as unemployment increases and businesses collapse.
Dr. Dayana N. H. Chaskar