Inner Circle: Reimagining How We Work in 2021
In January 2021, we hosted our first Inner Circle, a 45-minute panelcast discussion looking at timely topics impacting the world of work. During the conversation, we examined the monumental impacts of 2020, and discussed how we can face forward for a better year ahead.
Hosted and moderated by Director of Behavioral Data Sciences for Potential Project Nick Hobson, PhD, the panel also included:
· Matthias Birk, GlobalDirector of Partner Development, White & Case LLP; Adjunct Professor forLeadership, NYU
· Sandra Matz, PhD,Associate Professor of Management, Columbia Business School
· Marissa Afton, Headof Global Accounts, Potential Project
We wanted to examine some of the most relevant topics of the day, including mental well-being at work, how to lead into and through uncertainty, and how the social fabric of work has changed and evolved as a result of all that 2020 brought us.
It was a lively and thought-provoking discussion that brought up even more questions about the future of work, and certainly some interesting food for thought. There were a few over-arching takeaways that will be worth considering and focusing on as we move into this year ahead.
Well-being in Organizations
Companies began to take on new roles vis-à-vis their employees’ mental well-being in 2020, and that was a very good thing. Wellness initiatives moved from being a sidebar activity to being core to the business strategy. One of the most striking things our panelists observed is that companies who encouraged their people to take purposeful pauses in community with others – even just for 10 minutes – saw resilience levels grow. Moving forward, it is key that companies continue to create moments of connection, moments where we can simply be ourselves and maybe even become a bit more vulnerable.
Leading Through Uncertainty
Crises can bring out the best in leaders, but it’s not an easy place from which to lead in the long term. Moving forward, leaders need to remember that it’s not about having all the answers. As much as our brain wants to predict the future, one thing is certain: there is no certainty. If leaders are able to step into a place of curiosity and openness, their people will feel safer and more fulfilled. When leaders do this, it gives permission for employees to be okay with the uncertainty.
The Changing Social Fabric of Work
2020 was characterized by the great, unanticipated displacement of thousands to at-home work environments. New research and anecdotal stories are showing that trust and trustworthiness may be at risk in the virtual work environment. Trust comes naturally between two people when they work together in a shared physical location, but now leaders need to be deliberate in designing the employee experience to allow for moments of connection, sharing and trust.
From Resilience to Optimism
We are in a new year, but we still face monumental challenges. Resilience is important to sustain oneself through the marathon ahead, but we also need to cultivate optimism. This doesn’t mean just thinking positively. It means facing and accepting the realities of what’s in front of us, and then determining what is really in our control so we can sustain our resources in the long term.