Kevin Hermes Consultant Business IT
15 January 2021

The new normal is all about diving in at the deep end

Three pieces of advice for the smooth transformation of your organisation

Improven and secure managed IT service provider Solvinity joined forces to help organisations continue the trend of hybrid working in September 2020. At the ‘New Home Office’ event, we discussed the latest workplace trends and shared best practices concerning the new home office with a safe and efficient digital workplace. In this blog, Kevin Hermes, Business IT consultant at Improven, reflects on the changes that accompany these and that extend beyond technology.

Nobody is under any illusions that we’ll going back to the old normal. Throughout the Netherlands, people are in no doubt that hybrid work should be a permanent fixture in the future. Even in June last year, we wrote about the benefits of partly working from home and from the office. Our advice to you is to make sure you can continue to benefit from this in the long term. Nevertheless, six months later, numerous organisations are still struggling to set up a hybrid working environment. What obstacles are they coming up against?

“Het afgelopen jaar hebben we ‘Running the Business’ voorrang gegeven: het werk dat we altijd deden, blijven doen. Waar we nu naartoe moeten, is het werk daadwerkelijk anders doen.”

Three orders of change

When considering this issue from the perspective of change management, the answer appears relatively simple. However, the solution certainly isn’t. In the past year, we’ve been prioritising ‘Running the Business’; in other words, we simply continue doing the work that we’ve always been doing. This is an example of first order change. What we need to do now is actually do the work differently. This type of change affects not only technology (systems), but also employees and culture which, as a result, has an impact on the entire organisation. We are then talking about transformation (second order), or even transition (third order) of the organisation, and this requires a fundamentally different approach. This process takes time, and a great deal of time at that.

Precisely because it affects all facets of the organisation, change must be addressed with a comprehensive overall vision. This means that policy, systems and processes are overhauled, and that human and cultural factors are also taken into account in the new design: letting go of the old and stepping into something new as a whole organisation.

What we often see at Improven are organisations struggling with first order change, such as systems and processes, and that are unable to move beyond this. These aspects, while certainly prerequisites, are merely the first step. And here there is a danger of organisations, despite having observed and identified second and third order changes, trying to solve these with first order ‘solutions’. This approach is never going to work, since It means the cultural side will be neglected. Nevertheless, it’s no surprise that we are encountering situations like these right now. After all, we are still in the process of implementing or finalising this first-order change.

“This is about developing a dot on the horizon that offers perspective, and which is appealing and offers direction.”

Three pieces of advice for 2021

Next year, it is therefore vital to press ahead without biting off more than you can chew. Here are three specific pieces of advice for you to think about.  

  1. Think big and wide

This is about developing a dot on the horizon that offers perspective, and which is appealing and offers direction. So, above all, don’t make it too small. When drawing things up, try not to think in terms of risks or the current situation. Did you know that an average workplace in the Netherlands costs €9,086 for each FTE a year, and that our commuting accounts for over 6 million tons (!) in CO2 emissions annually? Make it your goal to lower these figures.

  1. Respect different categories of employee

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, which is in itself no bad thing. Identify your employees and divide them into groups. Make a personalised plan for each group and align this with the existing organisational structure. How do you handle a team that includes both pro homeworkers and pro office workers? How much freedom do you give each department and what direction do your managers give? Make clear agreements about these questions and adapt your systems as well as your offices to them. Think about issues such as:

  • determining set days on which ‘office unless’ and vice versa applies
  • agreements on attendance and meetings
  • designing the office primarily as a meeting place, only then as a workplace

  1. Go and do it

There is no change that goes entirely according to plan. Never lose sight of that dot on the horizon, and make adjustments if ideas are not working. Have people to come up with new insights themselves, and give them the space to flesh out the new way of doing things. Share successes but also failures. Communicate, involve and discuss. This way, you make it an organisation-wide trajectory. To do so, let go of the past. Because one thing is certain: as far as we are concerned, there’s no going back to the old normal.

Do you need help?

If you’re still struggling with the prerequisites and you require a safe and efficient digital hybrid workplace,get in touch with Danny Vosman, Product Owner Workspace for Solvinity, on +31 (0)6 1308 0635 or at Danny.vosman@solvinity.com

If you think you’re ready to extend change to the rest of your organisation,get in touch with Danny Vosman, Consultant Business IT on +31 (0)6 8306 4501 or at Kevin.Hermes@improven.nl

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