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The lockdown paradox: has it given us more freedom at work?

The lockdown paradox: has it given us more freedom at work?

Nicola Hopes

20 October 2020

It seems we’ll be in varying degrees of lockdown for the foreseeable future, but the impact on working life hasn't all been bad.

I have had the same conversation with 5 Directors in the last month… and it goes like this:

‘Actually, some things have improved in lockdown despite the issues.

 Honestly, I feel invigorated by the pace of decisions to make’.

They all describe an increase in the speed of decision-making, a reduction in unhelpful ‘committee’ conversations, improvements in the speed of communications and being trusted to just flippin’ get on with it.

This time has been rejuvenating to many – being able to see a tangible difference to make in the day.

Despite the confusion and personal sacrifices of a pretty awful time, it seems there have been some positive lessons to take away. And we owe it to everyone to learn them.

So, what’s been different?

Call it like it is

  • You just haven’t the time – you’ve had to accept you can’t be in every discussion. You’ve had to trust the experts and not meddle. And they've had to trust you.
  • Meeting fatigue – a 3-hour virtual meeting feels like a REALLY long time. So, you’ve cancelled the less critical ones and trimmed the agenda on the others. Upshot = less chat, more action.
  • Committee cull – you’ve often wondered why John keeps turning up to that monthly meeting he doesn’t contribute to or take any actions from. You’ve had the chance to get radical about who really has a vote. John’s out on his ear – with a polite thank you, of course.

So, how do you turn the temporary gains into a permanent shift?

A future to look forward to

  • Name the wins – think about what’s been better and why. Find out if others share your view to help build a picture.
  • Make it count – make the permanent changes you now have the momentum for e.g. changes to roles, meeting structures and plans.
  • Rubbish belongs in the bin – what were you and your team doing that just doesn’t add value that nobody missed? Trash it.
  • Value your time – get clear on the stuff you can really add value to right now. Delegate or pause the other stuff to make room.

So, have a think about the lessons you’ve learned from lockdown so far and how you’re going to make them count.

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