PIVOT was definitely the word of 2020 – and 2021 as it turned out.

Things have had to change on many levels – operationally, from a policy perspective, and from just about every other perspective in between. And often more than once.

So, after more than two years of rapid-fire changes, and the high-speed decision-making that has had to follow, can we expect people to keep up this pace and to be able to continue to turn on a dime on a regular basis?

What have we found out?
It is now recognised that, contrary to what many employers feared, sending entire workforces to work from home has not seen people goofing off at home – quite the opposite. Employees have in fact been found to have put in more hours and been more productive over the past two years, as the lines between work and home life have blurred, and the two have merged into each other in ways that we have never experienced before.

Subsequently burnout is now a major issue impacting many workplaces, and this is just one of the factors contributing to the Great Resignation that has now made its way to Australia’s shores as well.

Is there any good news?
It’s good to know it’s not all bad news. Many people have experienced increased personal time and cost savings as a result of not having to do the daily commute into the office. And the flexibility that has come with greater autonomy with regards to our working hours, has allowed many people to achieve a better work-life balance.

So much so that many workers are reluctant to return to the workplace or would at least like to retain some sort of hybrid working arrangement going forward – working partly in the office and partly from home.

And with the staff shortages currently being experienced across so many sectors, it would seem that workers have the upper hand – for a while, at least – and can more readily negotiate the working arrangements that best meet their needs.

What about the employers?
Well it’s good for many employers too. Depending on the role, in a number of cases now, their potential talent pool is no longer limited by geographic proximity to the workplace. With many staff happy to work remotely, and many workplaces happy to have personnel based offsite, employers can look further afield for their ideal candidates for so many more roles now.

And costs associated with office space are already shrinking. A number of the not-for-profits I work with are scaling back the size and number of their offices, as remote working plays a far bigger part in the way they deliver on their Mission.

The legacy of the crisis
I recently attended a seminar on Resilience – a word I think has become much overused in recent times. But nonetheless, one of the key takeaways from the seminar for me was that resilience is not, as many would suggest, about bouncing back from adversity. Rather it is more a case of bouncing ‘forward’ – meaning that we are forever changed as a result of having lived through the crisis, and as a result we take the learnings and the wisdom (the ‘legacy’) of that crisis with us as we move forward into the future. And I think organisations are the same – as a result of what our organisations have been through in the past two years, we will have better crisis management policies, better remote working policies, and I will never again have to explain to anyone what the acronym PPE stands for.

What does this mean for our not-for-profits?
So while our workplaces are likely to be a bit more dynamic and flexible going forward, it seems that the pace of change of the past two years might not be something to aspire to in the long term if you want a healthy, happy, energised and engaged workforce.

And employers are likely to need to be much more flexible and accommodating of the needs of both their potential and their existing employees if they want to attract and retain them in the face of a country-wide shortage of workers.

What has been your organisation’s experience? How have you had to pivot, and how do you see the future panning out going forward?

I’d love to hear what have been your pain points, and what have been your wins – get in touch with me on megan@mjbconsulting.net.au or 0421 525 048 for a conversation. I hope to hear from you soon!

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