Averbook: 5 radical resets for our new world of work

By: | August 24, 2020 • 3 min read
Jason Averbook is HRE’s People Side of Digital columnist. Averbook is a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of HR, the future of work and the impact technology has on that future. He is the co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a global consultancy helping organizations shape their future workplace by broadening executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that meet the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business. He can be emailed at hreletters@lrp.com.

At the peak of an economic cycle, we tend to push people harder and harder and harder, with talent trying to out-compete one another. Digital transformation in these circumstances tends to transform the business, but it does nothing to reinvent the work environment. I was starting to wonder when this was ever going to end. That is, until 2020 changed everything: how we work, how we live, what we value, everything.

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The radical disruption of 2020 has forced five resets:

  1. Reset Work: 2020 is the year we make the digital workplace thrive. 

We have necessarily redefined the notion of a physical workplace to one that is distributed, digital and built for collaboration, communication and community. We’ve never needed to be more agile in terms of the way work gets done. The focus is on:

  • Efficiency
  • Location
  • Meaning
  • Agility to match changing strategy
  1. Reset budgets: Simplify, do the right things, make work easier. 

Whatever you planned to finance, transform or advance with your budget this year, new priorities demand new investment strategies. This is the year that defied prediction; uncertainty is to be expected, but focus available dollars on what your business needs to get to the other side. Remember these guideposts:

  • Live with uncertainty.
  • Focus on what is right for your business now, not what was planned.
  • Drive true business value, not just HR value.
  1. Reset leadership: A new focus on empathy and understanding.

Building trust, shepherding people through change, leading with heart and demonstrating authenticity are never more critical than during radical unrest. Demonstrating care for your people allows you to protect and tend to the most valuable asset in your business. Follow these three steps:

  • Listen
  • Act
  • Do it again
  1. Reset trust: Take it seriously and learn to live by it.

In a year that has defied predictions at every turn, we look for the one thing we can trust: humanity. The more we communicate with each other, the more we create consistency and accuracy in the way we share and disseminate information. And the closer we bring people together through shared experiences, values and community, the better equipped we are to navigate the path ahead. Concentrate on:

  • Data accuracy
  • Communication
  • Desire to work with versus deflect
  1. Reset HR: Come together and operate as the heroes we need to be.

The most important, successful, industry-defining HR professionals of the future will understand their roles to be strategic, inventive, transformation-driving and purposeful. Building fluid networks and community, empowering people, experimenting and designing, and creating transparency will shape the new wave of digital transformation, and HR can lead the way by:

  • Aligning
  • Assessing
  • Acting
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HR just finished a philosophical wave where we went gaga for AI, tech, tools, growth, data and digital disruption. The next wave will use that and add resilience, caring and an appreciation for every individual in the company. Every individual in the company is extremely important for something. And every individual has the opportunity to do incredible things if they’re given the right opportunities, empowerment, tools and information—which means we need to design the company from the individual in, not from the company out. The biggest thing that’s changing in this digital disruption era is organizational structures designed to control and align people. They need to be rewired to empower individualized people.

Digital transformation is not betting the company on the future; it’s betting on your people as the future. This is the last big opportunity for HR to do a reset. Let’s not waste it.

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I’ll be talking more about “Writing the New Book of Work” at the HR Technology Conference & Exposition, a reimagined, interactive and online event being held Oct. 27-30. Registration is now free but required; save your seat!