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Harvard Talks: Engineering Work Culture After COVID-19 Pandemic

Employees will take stock of their new work priorities


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Engineering Work Culture After the Coronavirus Global Outbreak

 

 

Jeffrey T. Polzer: Employees will take stock of their new work priorities

jeff-polzer.jpgAs this crisis unfolds, you may find your workdays following a very different cadence. Normal work activities will get disrupted and then blended with your personal life as you begin working from home. The colleagues you usually run into at the office will no longer be down the hall, and the normal meetings and email threads that occupy your days may get shuffled in unexpected ways, depending in part on whether the crisis cripples or amplifies the demand for your work. In either case, this is a good time to take stock of your priorities and rethink your patterns of collaboration.

By auditing your work responsibilities and project commitments, along with all the meetings, emails, and other tools you use to collaborate, you can become more focused and intentional about how you spend your time. Before this crisis, you may have felt overloaded with too many meetings and relentless emails, making it seem like you never had time to do your actual work. The shift to working from home, despite all of its inherent challenges, can also be an opportunity to reflect on your priorities and design your new schedule to accomplish them.

What are your most important goals, especially during this crisis? For you, your team, and your organization, which items on your to-do list should take priority, and which should be pruned altogether? Where do you add the most value to collective goals that you care about, whether that is through performing specialized individual tasks, managing projects, inspiring people through your leadership, or building community and camaraderie in difficult times?

Talk to your colleagues about the roles you are best equipped to play in the new work-from-home landscape, and figure out how they fit with others’ roles to make sure you stay aligned.

Then design your collaborative activities—your video and audio meetings along with all forms of text-based communication—to fit your role, while giving you time for focused individual work along with family and personal activities. Clarify and, if needed, negotiate your commitments to teams and colleagues throughout your network, given the new and emerging organizational realities, and be intentional about the meetings you organize and the invitations you accept. There still may not be enough time to go around, but by resetting your collaboration patterns, you can make the most of the time you spend ‘at work.’

Jeffrey T. Polzer is the UPS Foundation Professor of Human Resource Management at Harvard Business School.

Source: This article first published Working Knowledge by Harvard Business School 

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