Leadership starts with making decisions – and making good ones. But as a new style of management grips our post-pandemic workplaces, are some leaders starting to feel paralysed by indecision?
It’s a phenomenon reported across the workplace landscape, driven by a changed attitude to where and how we work.
Leaders are having to coax reluctant staff back to offices, and need to put a far higher priority on worker wellbeing and happiness than ever before.
In other words, bosses are being urged to manage with empathy. Gartner ® states: “HR leaders must create a new, human-centric model that is fit for the hybrid environment by designing work around employee-driven flexibility, intentional collaboration and empathy-based management.”
So far, so good; staff who feel cherished and protected work well and do not seek other jobs, so productivity and retention grow.
So what’s the problem?
Industry observer Luis De Souza, CEO of NFS Technology, says that some leaders are simply trying too hard to cover every angle – and it is preventing them from making good decisions about running their workplaces.
“Decisiveness is a crucial trait in a good leader, one of the most important,” he says.
“But today’s more holistic environment, some managers are trying to listen and respond to every single viewpoint – and that’s no way to create a supportive and productive working environment.”
Luis consults with workplace leaders all over the world on the technology that supports their hybrid workforces, and he has 5 key tips for making the right decisions.
1. Identify first and foremost what your business needs to succeed.
“Yes, you need to have your staff’s interests at heart – but as the famous phrase says, you can’t please everyone all of the time,” says Luis.
“Getting clarity on your business requirements is the best way to understand how to provide a stable, successful working environment where your staff can grown and prosper.”
2. Don’t be afraid of how your workers will react.
“That’s not to say you should ignore their views,” says Luis. “But you should never make – or fail to make – important strategic decisions out of a sense of fear.
“Empower your staff to have their say; put in place robust and continuing consultative channels that provide a forum for helpful discussion and feedback.”
3. Be great at explaining your reasons.
“Putting in place great communications is a vital part of good leadership, and you should open up a number of channels ranging from all-hands video calls, to regular team manager briefings and one-to-ones.
“Make sure everyone at every level of your organization is aware of what your workplace is aiming to achieve, and understands the part they have to play in it.”
4. Encourage buy-in.
No initiative ever works if people do not support it. Good communications is an excellent start, and you can also incentivize buy-in with rewards and recognition for those who adopt your changes well.
“When your changes are supported by the implementation of technology such as hot desk booking software, it pays to select systems that are easy to use and understand,” says Luis.
“For example, hybrid workers who find it convenient to use hot desk booking software via a mobile app are more likely to use the system to book their space before coming into the office.”
“Easier said than done, right?” says Luis. “Many workplace leaders are finding their way through the new hybrid working world without a map, because each organization has highly individual needs.
“The secret of making good workspace decisions lies in knowledge, which is where technology such as hot desk booking software and meeting room scheduling can prove invaluable by providing comprehensive data.”
Because these advanced workspace management systems – such as Rendezvous by NFS – integrate with other technologies such as occupancy sensors and digital signage, they provide solid data on how workspace is actually being utilized.
“This takes away any guesswork, and makes it much easier to make planning decisions that work,” says Luis. “This could involve repurposing large meeting rooms as smaller collaborative spaces, creating flexible arrangements such as hot desks and matching space to the requirements of the people who use it.
“And that makes your staff very happy indeed, because they can always find and book the space they need to get on with their job effortlessly.”
Today’s hot desk booking software has evolved to allow people to search for colleagues they need to work beside for collaboration. It also provides QR and RFI codes for touch-free check in and out, which encourages confidence in safety.
Desks that are not used as booked are automatically released into availability, and ‘reverse hoteling’ allows fixed desks to be used for hot-desking when their ‘owners’ do not need them.
“It’s wonderful that organizations are finally putting employee welfare and needs high on their priority list – managers have learned a lot over the past few years about responding to human requirements,” says Luis.
“This shift in priorities, and the establishment of remote working as a viable mode of operations, are the two factors driving the worldwide transformation of workplaces for the better.”
But workplace leaders now need to grasp the reins and guide their workforces in the direction that works best for the organization, for its customers, and for the workers themselves.
“Our workplaces will continue to evolve, and this can be a confusing and difficult time for those who use them,” says Luis.
“It’s more important than ever to establish the direction your business needs to take, and to use technology to inform and support the decisions you make.
“We’re emerging from some dark times into a new era of opportunity, so here is my advice: take a deep breath, examine the data and make some decisions. Providing clarity and support for your workers is the best way to ensure their wellbeing, engagement and continued productivity.”
Gartner ®, 2021. “Redesigning Work for the Hybrid World: Opportunities for Knowledge Workers.”