The global pandemic certainly impacted how we connect with one and other.
We have gained an insight into ourselves and also into each other’s personal lives, virtually entering colleagues’ homes for business meetings – which were invariably interrupted by children, pets or the postman. We’ve shared the juggle and struggle of pandemic life as well as finding humour and connection with our colleagues as we have tried to chart a course together through unknown waters. In the case of Insights, this has driven an increased intimacy and deeper connection within our global community, including with our customers.
In the months ahead, as we transition back into the office, I am aware that we must cling on to this intimacy. We must continue to build an environment where people feel confident, safe and empowered to talk about their challenges, share their aspirations for ongoing wellbeing as well as focusing on work productivity, with a range of people-focused initiatives supporting and encouraging this, which cater for individual preferences, so everyone feels nurtured and valued.
Below I have outlined key elements which will ensure that we maintain crucial community connection as we transition to the next phase of our working lives:
Actively developing self-awareness and integrating this at the heart of learning and development programmes, as well as everyday interactions, is the best place to start when it comes to creating an open work environment, where people feel safe to share ideas and concerns.
Self-awareness drives authenticity – when you understand yourself and are comfortable in your own skin, you’re more likely to ‘show up’ in a more authentic way, which people will respond to. Being aware of yourself and others as a leader means you will more easily be able to listen to the personal testimonies of people, genuinely empathise, and respond compassionately when seeking to find the ways to inspire and motivate.
Self-awareness impacts the bottom line too, as honest conversations unlock employee engagement, productivity, and output. In a blended environment where digital and virtual connection is here to stay, understanding yourself and others is vital to working in these new environments as communication is nuanced in different ways through the medium of our screens.
Come together as a community
At Insights, community begins with the experience we give our people – from the moment they choose to work with us. During the pandemic we deliberately ramped up regular connection with our global community through a mixture of ‘all hands’ and smaller team calls. Although we were using technology to connect, we never lost sight of ensuring the human skills of resilience, creativity and collaboration were catered for, alongside personal preference and need.
Maintaining a strong sense of community must be high priority moving forward. Creating a regular opportunity for your global community to come together – whether as a whole company or in smaller teams – will set a positive tone for the future. It will ensure an environment where employees feel both supported and able to share their brilliant ideas.
It is an elemental part of being human to want to share our endeavours, operate as part of something bigger than ourselves and feel valued within a community. In the new world of work where finding and keeping good talent is fiercely competitive, the companies with the strongest communities will take centre stage.
Aligning through purpose
Through building community, individuals and organisations are more likely to be centred on a common purpose, grounded in what is important, even in the event of huge changes which are bound to arise. People are also more likely to achieve their full potential because they feel encouraged, supported and heard.
At Insights we are entering an exciting time as we begin an organisation wide journey into exploring our individual and organisational purpose. All our people will come together to learn more about what motivates us every day. Using our own tools and Lego Serious Play the interactive global community workshops will help us look at how we can learn and connect more with our purpose, and untimely how that can positively impact our everyday lives, and our work.
Be honest and transparent
Honesty and transparency have always been integral to my personal leadership philosophy; however this was supercharged during the pandemic. My leadership team and I were in absolute agreement that we wouldn’t take decisions on anything we couldn’t explain to our people directly, looking them straight in the eye. The support, advice and wisdom of the community then flowed back making us collectively much stronger.
This will remain a high priority as we move back into our newly refurbished offices, a deliberate investment to make our working spaces state of the art collaborative and inspiring community hubs. A present, honest and transparent leadership approach breeds a culture of openness and trust which is exactly what businesses need right now to thrive. Honest, open and transparent leadership from senior leaders and managers creates a culture which pervades through the organisation, meaning that people feel connected to the organisation, part of the community and are inspired to bring their best selves to work.
Everything we’ve experienced since 2020 has pushed us, changed us, and – despite a mountain of challenges – has also created new opportunities for our organisations to be more communicative and creative. As we transition back to the workplace, it so important to protect and preserve the advances we’ve made.
Increasing self-awareness, creating opportunities for connection and aligning strategy with a shared purpose modelled from the top of the organisation, will help embed those advances as we move into the new world of work.
Written by Fiona Logan.
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