Seven o’clock Monday morning another pandemic working week starts and it’s all about the uber efficient routines we have all built up in these times. Getting a session of sport in, a healthy home breakfast, maybe a drop off the kids but then back to that desk in the corner that we all had time to decorate in the last 24 month to make it the best we can. Nine o’clock and the madness starts, back-to-back meetings, decisions, working groups and progress at an unseen speed. Pandemic speed.

Let’s reflect here for a moment why this is and what effects it had on us. The fact that we did not have to get into the car and start the journey to the work place which is adding to the average person in the Eurozone one hour a day (ec.europa.eu/Eurostat – Source Dataset:Ifso_19plwk28). 30 minutes each way, and that’s roughly 60% for the rest it is even more. If we take Germany as an example here and look at the 45 million registered workers and multiply this by 200 working days (acknowledged average is 220) we are at 9.000.000.000 hours of time saved. Divided into 8-hour days this would be 1.125.000.000 working days. Remember this is only Germany as an example and you may have surely factors weighing this down for families, but we are talking about roughly 639 000-man years of 8-hour days gained by the economy. If we now add up that the usual coffee chat drops out, lunch breaks get shortened, you do not need to be a math genius to understand that the shift to remote working has created an unseen speed and efficiency in projects and work.

So, you may look at these numbers and say this is a great concept lets work like this all the time, but let’s look at the downside of this. The fact that manufacturing had to close and that the above numbers can only go for non-physical work is clear and puts them into perspective, but if we now divide it all by 3 we are still looking at quiet big numbers.

All the above sounds promising so where are the pitfalls – its engagement, work structure and the big change projects that often where suffering and not to neglect the mental impact the sudden change had on a lot of the employees. According to a survey by the rsph (rsph.org.uk) 67% of people felt less connected, 46% percent did work out less and 39% even developed musculoskeletal problems, now these are really concerning numbers as these will not only have impact on the people but also long term on business health, the health systems and society.

Understanding that people are the biggest priority for any business until we can completely hand over to AI and machines – which I guess you will agree is not a scenario we will witness in our lifetimes, this needs to take front and center of any strategy to maximize the pandemic speed in a soon post pandemic world.

“The key to success for the next years will be around people, multicultural sensibility, and flexible solutions”

So, let’s talk about the hygiene factors then:

•  Enable working from anywhere of all devices any time – hyper digitized workspace
•  Flexible work arrangements
•  Collaboration spaces
•  Process and project management

These are the big themes to look at and built out as they will become the driving force for any successful business in the coming years, combined with benefits packages that cater to Gen Z and Alpha that will be work force and consumers with the remainder of generation Y in the next 20 years. Looking at the numbers of destatis.de for unemployment paints an even bigger need for this, Germany (3,2%), Netherlands at 2,7% and Czechia at (2.2%). Considering that 3% unemployment is considered full employment shows that the competition for talent is going to be fierce in the coming years and if we peek over to the US where unemployment is at 3.6% this looks at some of the strongest economic areas in the world with a shortage of workforce.

Here is your next dimension to consider international recruitment – understanding where to find talent that can come and work for you, but not always is ready to move to the place and location that your business is.

Now if we look at the hygiene factors if you have them in place and combine a clever balance of these you should say it is easy to do this, but why is it not. It requires multinational thinking and expertise that often is not commonplace in companies today and one of the biggest drivers of this is adoption and leadership – your leadership need to not only understand and breath these principles they need to live, teach, and optimize according to the team’s situation regularly. The teams need to feel empowered to drive this and be coached around this – after all the main challenge of the Gen Y team members in leading positions is to understand the concerns of Gen Z and Alpha team members to make this a success.

Summing it up then, the key to success for the next years will be around people, multicultural sensibility, and flexible solutions. I hope you enjoyed this short read and look forward to conversations and discussions in the follow up.