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  • David McDonald

What does the future look like for YOUR workplace and people in a post COVID-19 world?


At the Bridge we are here to help businesses and can provide a local and international view on what organisations are planning. To this end we are offering a complimentary, no obligation consult ‘Bridge by Design’ to organisations to benchmark the Triple Play (Culture, Customer, Commercial) in the design of your future workforce strategy.


You will note that I’ve highlighted the word YOUR. As with most things in life and in business the answer is not always simple and it certainly doesn’t fall into the category of the cookie cutter where everything will return to the way it was in a post pandemic world. And nor should it. The world has changed, peoples expectations have changed, cities and countries have changed. The important thing for leaders is how you want your organisation to look, feel and interact with its people & customers into the future.


After all great disruptions comes reinvention – you can feel it building – the way we use our public spaces, the future of dining and entertainment experience and technology – people are getting creative again.


Designing for the future?

Successful businesses are doing the same with the DESIGN of future workplaces and workforces to come back better and happier. I highlighted the word DESIGN as it is an important word for me. As much as possible do life by DESIGN, manage your career by DESIGN and in this context build the future organisation by DESIGN. It’s ok not to know exactly how this will look as I also believe in progress not perfection – but now is the time to do something, build a better organisation and outline the culture the organisation wants to be able to thrive.


We have been talking to a number of CEO's and our existing clients which include RAA Insurance, Lifeline and Wesley Mission about where they are as a business as we approach the end of 2020. There is optimism about finally emerging from the pandemic and moving into a more positive 2021, but there is a sense of being paralysed, a little overwhelmed on what to do next and a strong feeling of not being in total control of the journey in front of them.


From a culture perspective, varying sources are reporting between 35% to 45% of Australians say they don’t want to go back to work in an office and prefer their virtual, decentralised work life. Commercially, the results around productivity, absenteeism, health and wellbeing are mixed. Many organisations have seen productivity improve but just as many have seen it decline. We’ve seen organisations where absenteeism has sky-rocketed during the period of working from home – amongst other things highlighting the need we have around connection.


The question for business owners is where on the scales of centralised versus decentralised does your organisation want to be – and why? (By Design)

Where are you on the scale?

So how do we approach the big DESIGN question?


I always apply the Triple play to quickly determine a company’s well-being; Culture, Customer and Commercial.

The answer is unique to your business needs and your assessment of the Triple Play. However, we will need to accept that the future is going to be different and we are unlikely to be returning to the previous operating model and business as usual.





Where do you want to be? Embrace change and design a better future?

Our view is that now is the time to create and there is an exciting opportunity for businesses to reinvent - Use this time to review your strategy, create a plan for competitive advantage and see how your partners can help.


We’ve seen exciting opportunities:

  • Uptake of Digital in all walks of life

  • Need for flexibility in the workforce, which is creating more opportunity to improve diversity and new talent that was not attracted to the traditional business operating model. Why not hire international candidates to enhance skills diversity?

  • Re-engineering 'The CBD'. Outdoor space utilisation (eg restaurants, cafes, exercise, bike paths). The move from destination to attraction? How does your organisation contribute and interact in this environment?

  • Importance of the home, local community and state; more local trips being made.

  • Productivity improvement shared between the business and the individual from utilising dead travel to work time

  • Before embarking on a traditional re-structure conduct a thorough assessment and design the organisation of the future across the triple play.

What future state questions to ask?


Culture: What culture do we want and to be famous for? What do we need our leaders to do? What is the make-up of our workforce in term of capability, diversity, flexibility, and connectivity given the new way of life? What does the office look like? How much will teams need to communicate and connect with one another? What can technology deliver and what can it not replace. How do we build resilience, responsiveness and trust?


Customer: How do we maintain and improve the effectiveness of customer delivery and operations? What are the delivery mechanisms? How do we communicate and connect with our customers and clients? How have consumer expectations evolved? What temporary behaviours are becoming permanent?


Commercial: How do we optimise costs and efficiency? Where do we invest/divest? How do we drive more revenue out of our existing customer base? What new channels have opened up due to COVID-19? Have community and ethics increased in importance to the extent they need to play a bigger role in our strategies?


The Quick Wins?

However, there have been as many challenges created by COVID-19 and there is urgency to act. Fundamentally I believe it has disconnected people and this must be an immediate priority for any business, as it is the driver of engagement and ultimately performance.


The need to facilitate connection will be greater in the future. What does this mean for our people, our infrastructure our products and operations? What can you do now?

Theodore Roosevelt once said: ‘In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing’.

Its ok not to have all the answers yet, but now is the time to try and create something better than before. The team can help refine. Its not ok just to do nothing, and go back to what we’ve always done.


Leading organisations will take a “glass half full” view of situation and use the opportunity to create competitive advantage across the Triple Play.


How do you start and get going?

In my view, it is important to get started on this exercise and determine some quick wins in each stream of the triple play. Initiating the process itself can be motivating for the team. As Sara Elmstrom, my fellow partner at The Bridge has shared, from a cultural perspective, the journey is as as important as the outcome.


Applying a pragmatic and collaborative approach utilising a physical and virtual wall mentioned in Ben Coleman's article on why some business transformation programs fail to meet their objectives will also help with seamless execution, getting some simple things done quickly, while developing a shared vision and roadmap for the future.


Finally, get some support. It has been a tough and lonely time for many leaders, and sometimes it can help to have an independent advisor who can come in, facilitate a pragmatic new design, provide benchmarks and external insights to support the change roadmap to get there.


Take us up on the complimentary, no obligation benchmark of ‘Bridge by Design’ insights on how to design your future workforce strategy.


David McDonald | Managing Director / Co Founder - The Bridge International

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