POSITIVE DYNAMICS - OD, HR, BUSINESS COACHING & PEAK PERFORMANCE EXPERTS

Bespoke programmes designed and delivered in partnership with you

We believe organisations thrive when people are provided with the right conditions and connections to develop.

At Positive Dynamics we excel at helping our clients create a positive, powerful and sustainable difference to their performance.

Every member of our team is curious and ambitious about people’s untapped potential, and we love generating the kind of energy that fuels organisations to grow. We enable our clients to become the very best they can be, propelling them to achieve things they never thought possible.

CULTURE CHANGE & TRANSFORMATION

Our tailored programmes will ensure your company culture benefits long term organisational growth.

EXECUTIVE & BOARD PERFORMANCE

We work with senior teams, empowering them to significantly raise their game, define strategy and direction.

TEAM & ORGANISATIONAL PERFORMANCE & IMPROVEMENT

Our creative approach supports teams to accelerate trust and develop a collective focus on results.

LEADERSHIP & TALENT DEVELOPMENT

We develop current and future leaders, helping them to confidently deliver what is expected of them.

HR STRATEGY & PROJECTS

We enable HR teams to build organisational environments that match the overall vision and purpose of the business.

BUSINESS COACHING

Our 1-1 programmes unlock and implement potential. Our team coaching harnesses the power of collective performance.

Reflections on our new way of working

As we approach a year since the UK lockdown began, we wanted to reflect on and assess our new ways of working. In October 2020, Microsoft held a Future of Work keynote in which they shared their third party and internal research. Microsoft found that leaders had gone from wondering if employees were being productive when working from home to wondering whether they were working in a sustainable way as people are at the heart of their company. Similarly in 2020 Leesman conducted a survey of 125,000 people from 870 companies across 83 companies on remote working. She/he found that around three quarters of people (74.2%) had a positive experience working from home, while a staggering 82.2% stated home working had improved their productivity. Additionally, all age groups were happier carrying out their work at home and none of the employees didn’t want to return to a 100% office-based role. The findings also outlined that the boundaries between work and home life were often blurred, impacting mental health and that not everyone had a set-up conducive to work from their home.

Travel & The Environment

One of the main benefits of working from home is that there is no commute. The average daily commute before the pandemic was almost an hour (59 minutes), according to research conducted by the TUC in 2019. This is the equivalent of 221 hours a year. The difference has been astronomical. In our own team, we’ve found that virtual working has given more time to spend with family or on personal fitness. International and regional travel has also been cut out throughout the pandemic, which led to companies saving money and resources and reducing the impact on the environment.

Wellbeing in our new Way of Working

Another benefit of home working has been the freedom and flexibility to adapt work around home life, which in some cases has benefitted mental health. However, home working hasn’t come without it’s challenges. Microsoft in third party and internal research found that 33% of remote workers said that the lack of separation between work and home life had negatively impacted their mental health. This lack of boundaries had led to working longer hours and feeling burnout. Equally, the disparity in equipment at home has made it difficult for employees to present themselves well virtually, as well as finding the space and quiet to work in a busy household.

Wellbeing & Virtual Relationships

Microsoft found in their internal and third-party research that home working had some benefits including flexibility around family life and a new found empathy for others. You can read more of our predictions on flexible working in the future here. In fact, 62% of people said they felt more empathetic towards colleagues as they can now see into each other’s lives. The psychological impact of being indoors and disconnected physically from a team, support network or clients has taken it’s toll on employees, especially roles that revolved around generating personable client interactions. Moreover, separation from colleagues when working from home has meant a loss of connection and a rise in feelings of isolation. As a team at Positive Dynamics, we’ve found it harder to read each other/clients to offer support as a lot of face-to-face interaction has been replaced with emails.

Technology & Data Protection

Technology has been essential for home working as well as home schooling and personal connection and entertainment. Yet, the pandemic has highlighted a digital divide (especially in the UK) for regions with accessible high-speed broadband and those without. It’s made it difficult for colleagues to interact as technology has let them down during presentations or meetings, leading individuals to miss out on vital virtual connections. Equally, home working has led to an increase in bills, which is an additional strain for families. A major challenge has been ensuring that data is protected and software at home is GDPR compliment for sensitive data to be accessed securely and remotely.

What’s next? Is this the future way of working?

Moving forward employees and organisations will have to find a way to balance these new found benefits (flexible working, empathy, less impact on the environment and time away from family) of home working with time in the office. To ensure that everyone feels supported, connected and prioritises their individual wellbeing whilst working towards the organisation’s initiatives. We’ll outline our full predictions of the future of work in our next blog post.

Have you had to change how you work during the pandemic? If so, has this been a positive change?

What is the future of flexible working?

This is a plea to Exec teams and HRD’s not to fall into the trap of mandating the work location patterns of their organisation. Surely the pandemic has taught us that those of us with ‘office jobs’ can be flexible, communicative, productive and responsible employees when working from home?  Throughout the last 12 months workplace surveys overwhelmingly indicated >75% of employees enjoyed being able to work from home and found themselves to be equally or more productive as a result, and the organisational leaders we speak to concur. Similar surveys tell us our staff want to work in flexible ways beyond the pandemic, although nearly half are worried this will not be supported by their organisation and are considering leaving if this is true.  There is a perception some ‘office roles’ are not suitable for home working; we have to  challenge this as much as we can.  For example, we have spoken to many ‘call-centre’ and ‘support’ workers worried they will be forced to return to the office; yet the service we have received from them has been excellent and we would have had no idea they were home-working, other than a curiosity to ask them and enquire about how it is working out - so far everyone we’ve spoken to has been loving it. Naturally, when we are in a more mixed economy of working protocols it will be important for organisations to acknowledge this and find ways to ensure some kind of  two tier system does not develop. We hope employers will encourage other flexible working options alongside home working, which can be one of the many ways to ensure as level a playing field as possible, and we are sure more creative ideas will emerge. We will almost certainly need a more flexible and creative approach to our reward structures.

Some organisations are seeking to ensure both collaboration and fairness by mandating ‘2 days in the office, and 3 at home.' However this is not going to satisfy employees according to our research.

It will take away the trusted and empowered ways of working which have been so valued by many during this COVID-19 pandemic, and prior within some organisations. We need a global shift in focus to output rather than input, and a significant evolution in how we ‘manage performance'. For those organisations who have not experienced positive productivity during lockdown home-working, we would argue there is an opportunity to learn from those who have. Of course not everyone can or wants to work from home, and very few people want to work from home every single day.  There are lots of benefits of being together in one space to build relationships, collaborate, connect, innovate, and solve problems through deep dialogue.  Many people want to see and be with colleagues, have fun times together in teams in the daytime, and perhaps socially in the evening.  Physically being together can relieve us from the sometimes endless and draining screen time of online meetings, or from the unsuitability of some home environments for home working. Blending work in the office, with work at home, as well as from cafes, cars, client-sites, community-centres, gyms, parks or anywhere with Wi-Fi is what people want, to be able to be productive with their work time, and to live a balanced life.  The key to success is CHOICE, in the same way Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle) built their successful flexible 'anytime-anyplace' trust and outcomes based work culture across EMEA nearly 20 years ago.*

CHOICE is about allowing individuals to fluidly choose where it is most productive and convenient to work on different days, and indeed during different phases of their lives; and to ask them to blend this with the (genuine not control led) requirements of their role, colleagues, and organisational purpose and goals.

We believe teams can be encouraged to discuss and work out the 'office v elsewhere' patterns for themselves, in a similar way that happens now when organising the rhythm and dates for internal and external meetings. We appreciate this will be a revolution in working patterns for some organisations.  This may feel overwhelming and is triggering some ‘denial’ responses in some leaders and organisations.  However we urge those struggling with the concept to think again.  Insisting people are ‘office-based’ or mandating employees to travel into the office twice a week, is counter to the purpose lead empowerment workers now expect. There is of course a balance to be stuck – the psychological contract between the needs of the organisation and the needs of the individual must come together in a harmony which works for both. Organisations should rightly expect their employees to organise and attend important purpose-led collaborative meetings with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders. Internal communication and engagement will require a rethink, based on what we have learned from experimentation this year.  We will continue to use more social channels. We have an opportunity to pre-plan an annual calendar of ‘gatherings’ which combine  'physically present for all'  and 'virtual for all' events.   Many employees described a phenomenon of ‘hierarchical equalisation’ and feeling ‘more connected than ever’ to their senior leaders because of regular virtual briefing & Q&A sessions, in which their leaders felt more accessible and personable; let’s keep this benefit by keeping some of the virtual sessions.  Conversely some leaders felt more disengaged from the people outside their immediate teams; so how do we find creative, and some virtual, solutions to this challenge such as the ‘virtual fireside chats’ and ‘virtual birthday breakfasts’ some have experimented with?

We can be agile and encourage our teams to regularly review what is working and not working and keep adjusting accordingly. Let's make it our aspiration to learn how to create high performance cultures in this flexible world of working.

We can build and nurture team relationships from close and afar to ensure everyone stays in good relationships with one another.  New collaboration tools and technologies are coming along all the time to help us.  If we keep experimenting, listening, and talking (face-to-face and virtually) we can successfully evolve to do this. We can employ a 'pull factor' to bring people together through exciting choices about ‘office’ design.  We hope to see inclusive hub-style spaces where people can collaborate, innovate, connect, have fun; and some spaces for ‘concentration or desk-work’ too if this is what is productive for them.  We can create 'neighbourhoods' of ‘drop in tables’ and we might even keep some ‘allocated tables’ for those who might want them now, or those who might want them in the future.  Flexible meeting room structures can allow café spaces & meeting rooms to be reconfigured for lots of different sized meetings from two people to hundreds of people. It will take time to evolve our policies and collective working spaces, so let’s ask our employees to be flexible and patient and collaborate with us on this journey, and in return gain true flexibility in their working locations and patterns. Let’s get creative, embrace this flexible working pattern and unleash the innovative thinking we need for our organisations to thrive today, tomorrow and in twenty years’ time.

Will your organisation continue to evolve the  flexible working options after the pandemic?

*We played a leading role in this project and can share the learning with anyone who is interested.  We have operated as a virtual organisation for over 25 years, with the corresponding benefits including enjoyment, flexibility, and productivity.