Blocked in Lockdown – 10 things we have discovered

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You may be able to listen to Dylan whilst attending a team meeting, talk to your Mum in a project update, or eat breakfast at noon, but working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Before we embrace Zoom and Bluejean, ‘Teabreak’ meetings and casual attire, here are 10 issues identified so far with what others are already proclaiming as the future of work (from a conversation with a Senior HR Professional from a top Consulting Firm).

1. Permanently Available
The previous scant respect for others’ time that was in place in the office has disappeared. We all have nothing better to do than work and we are always available. For those in global roles that means calls at 7am and 9pm don’t even need to be checked in advance – everyone is expected to ‘pull together’ over the weekend – permanent availability is the new norm.

2. Who decides?
The move to tighter decision-making cadres and a more reactive agenda means that work demands are more ad hoc and difficult to predict. Requirements are now relayed quickly in phone calls rather than discussed in meetings – meaning deliverables are often unclear and reworking is required again and again.

3. Disappearing Governance
The disruption to the general operational cycle in organisations means that the regular structures for tabling and discussing proposals and making decisions are less clear. Informal networks and decision making have replaced the regular governance protocols and monthly meetings.

4. Machiavelli revisited
Decisions that used to be made on the basis of a collective buy-in and endorsement are now made by picking off key stakeholders in one to one calls (often at the end of other calls on different topics).

Informal networks and gossip are now disproportionately influential in organisational power and respect. Keep your friends close and ignore your enemies is the new mantra.

5. Can you ‘here’ me?
Conference calls go on for ever as all participants have to contribute or ask questions to remind everyone they are ‘here’ and at work.

6. Thinking outsourced to Google
Decisions are increasingly made on the basis of a quick Google search (often during a call) rather than on robust and sourced research.

7. Sorry to ring again (but I know you’re there)
There are interruptions to interruptions, given the range of tools available to tell you someone wants a ‘quick word’ – if only.

8. Tired of Talking
The lack of any downtime and constant requirement to demonstrate positivity on a phone call is exhausting (but at least you don’t have the commute now!).

9. We’re all in this together…
The constant requirement to be seen as an inclusive leader means that we are all scrambling around to involve team members in a curtailed and focused agenda – and give others who are under-resourced some things to do to relieve the boredom.

10. Can you stress that we’re busy?
Senior leaders are more stressed than ever because they are busier than ever, as the diary becomes an endless series of unnecessary conference calls that give them no time to do any work. As a result, you need to ensure your team don’t contact other leaders with a semi-important or non-immediate deliverable because they are just ‘so busy’ – it may signal you think their team isn’t – and maybe has furlough capacity…


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