Future Generali

What will be the outcome of WFH in terms of culture and innovation?

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Rakesh Wadhwa:

A lot is being said about work from home, remote as a result of this pandemic. And that's something which a lot of organizations are seeing as a real benefit on real estate and also in the way work forces are organized. How do you see that and what would be the outcome of this strategy that a lot of large organizations are looking at adopting in terms of culture, in terms of innovation this old team cohesiveness, what's your take?

 

Keith Coats:

I don't think the workforce in a lot of companies are going to want to go back to the office. I think as I said earlier, what we have found out is that people are more productive and happier. At home. And I think it's going to have a massive demographic implication, for instance, to the inner city where suddenly you've got building space, that's unoccupied parking space, that's unoccupied.

So there all kinds of sideshows there. But I think that a lot of businesses have found that people have enjoyed working from home and don't want to go back to the office and office hours as we've known, and that won't impact at all on the business output. So a lot of the work we've been doing is to help businesses know how to lead and manage virtual teams because what you can't do is simply take the office structure home with you. If you've got small kids or both you and your partner were professionals, and now you find yourself at home and you both need to work. It's not as simple as saying, take the office home. You have to have a completely different mindset around what it means to work at home. Another practical clue would be to stop measuring inputs and measure outputs as dealing with a client. Someone recently said we want to know that our people who are working at home or at their computer at eight o'clock in the morning and stuff. And I said that's crazy. Measure outputs. Does it really matter in what they do, whether they're at their computer? Measure outputs, what are they responsible for producing. So I think that, what we've got to appreciate in this virtual kind of flexible space, we now find ourselves in whether we like it or not is that what it means to me carry on with it. And what it would mean to work from home is going to require new skill sets. I was saying to a leader the other day, who was kind of unaware of the Same - When you on a screen with all your executive team, any small distraction that you engage in can send a huge ripple message to your team. So an example is I'll look away and I'll look outside and I'm distracted. What a team member who's speaking while I do that and it throws them completely or I'll wear glasses and I'll take off my glasses that are team members speaking. I might be sending a message that I don't want to send. And so even at a leadership level, how you lead and manage virtual teams is going to require new awareness and new skill sets, how we engage and interact.

But in answer to the question, don't expect things to go back into the way they were for one, staff won't want that to be enjoyed the freedom and flexibility. That they've now got, that research has shown will always be to the company's benefit.

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