The End of 9-5

May 20, 2020 Lynne Levy

3-minute read

woman working on computer

Millions of Americans are taking part in an unplanned work-from-home experiment as we weather our way through the COVID-19 crisis. And looking ahead, there are many signs that we may never get back to how things were before. Many companies and industries are demonstrating that work can happen anytime and anywhere, and should not be measured by how many hours we sit in a chair, but by what is produced. 

Imagine coming into work at 2 p.m. after spending the morning with your family. Some of your teammates are at their desks, some are remote, and some are done for the day. You get to work, focusing intensely until 7 p.m., and then you head home. Tomorrow, you plan to join a colleague at a coffee shop to finish the project you started. Then you'll be off for the week.

Could this be the new normal by the end of 2020? Let’s take a deep dive into some of the predictions for the future of work.

A mix of in-person and remote work

After COVID-19, working from home may become the norm for many employees. A recent New York Times article cites a Gallup poll that found a majority of American adults working from home would prefer to continue doing so "as much as possible" after the pandemic.  

In this article, Kate Lister, president of global workplace analytics, predicts “workers would be looking for the ‘happy medium,’ splitting time between remote work and showing up at the office." The work-from-home experiment is showing leaders that employees can be productive at home without being micromanaged or putting in rigid work hours. 

However, research indicates face-to-face meetings are still essential for innovation and keeping employees motivated and engaged. Would organizations thrive if the new normal is a mix of in-person and remote work?

Results-only work environment

In a results-only work environment, employee measurement is based on output, not presence in the office or hours worked. Employees are given complete autonomy over their projects, and they can choose how they meet their goals. Time does not matter, only results. 

The pandemic certainly gives employers a new respect for how employees get their work done. Employees today have childcare and other competing priorities as the world is shut down. They are balancing their personal needs and those of the organization. Brian Kropp, chief of research in the HR practice at Gartner, notes: "Employers should design their work policies around outcomes, not workflows and processes. The idea is that employees are expected to accomplish their goals, but how they do it and when they do it is flexible." Most employees are getting their work done despite the chaos that exists around them.

Would organizations thrive if employees are measured on the value of their work rather than time in the office? Would organizations thrive if the badge of honor of working 80 hours a week disappears, and instead, creativity, innovation, and results are the measurement of success?

Culture infrastructure

The Peter Drucker quote, "culture eats strategy for breakfast," holds true today more than ever. Those organizations with cultures built on trust, where employees can bring their full selves to work, will beat out the competition. What is needed is a culture infrastructure, built on three pillars to drive human connection:

•    Celebrate: Sharing humanity and our common purpose.

•    Talk: The way employees grow and encourage one another toward common goals.

•    Thank: Expressing authentic appreciation for someone's work effort or positive behavior

Would organizations thrive if organizational culture was measured by the value of human connection? 

I am hopeful that once we get past this crisis, work will become a place where employees can bring their whole selves, and where each employee is valued for their unique strengths and abilities.


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About the Author

Lynne Levy

Lynne Levy is a Workhuman evangelist who lives and breathes helping organizations build cultures that bring out the best in the employees. Her mantra is “do what you love, love what you do.”

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