Late 2017 we decided to jump on the WeWork wagon and rented a small office on a short term contact, but after a year, partly due their reported financial instability, we cancelled our contract. Although we enjoyed our time there, we realised that we rarely utilised the facilities on offer. It served its purpose and we met weekly there as a team, however used their communal areas more than our compact office.
So we were without office for the first time, but with hotels e.g. CitizenM offering great facilities to pitch up for the day with our team, why would we fork out thousands of pounds and enter into long term lease commitments? The big city offices are now empty and will be for some time.
I was often asked why we didn’t have an office, especially as we had several people in our company. People used to be puzzled and couldn’t get their heads around it; clearly thinking that this wasn’t the norm. Similarly, over the years, I have been asked why I don’t hire more people and grow the team. Frankly, I didn’t want to or didn’t need to! Why is it that people attribute success to headcount and real estate? This isn’t how we measure our success at Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment. We measure it by client and employee satisfaction and of course profitability. Many travel business leaders have also adopted this mantra and are reaping the benefits by retaining staff despite furlough and wage cuts, as well as attracting new talent. Frustratingly, we still read in the media about bosses who are living in the past and still think that commuting to the office, physically having a full time presence five days a week to be essential for a business to be successful. This management presentism although not wide spread, is clearly deeply rooted unfortunately. These bosses don’t believe that people can be productive working from home, and employees have historically tolerated this perception. Getting together with colleagues is very important for lots of reasons, but it doesn't have to be every day of the week.
Not now of course. One, and probably the only positive resulting from the Pandemic, is that office based companies were forced to work from home. They had to accept that going into the office to log on to a computer was exactly the same as logging on at home. Work still got done, customers needs were met and technology became the enabler. Business leaders who continue to oppose remote working, will inevitably experience a drain in the talent they’ve got and will find it difficult to recruit new talent in the future.
Whilst this is no longer rocket science, remote working has thrown up another challenge and there will be undoubtedly a cultural shift. Companies need to move away from the way leadership is linked to function rather than a skill. We have seen companies promote people or hire people to be managers to manage but the focus has been on making sure people work and do what they are saying they do. But when we remove the office environment, what will these managers do if they haven’t anybody to manage?
The article below shares some interesting thoughts from a phycologist, John Amaechi (although I wish his examples were gender neutral). "You can find your own authentic way to be a leader," he says. The new style of leadership is a skill or experience, not a function - lead more purposefully and authentically. This style can only bring focus that will propel teams forward.
A unique view of what leadership actually means. Being a leader is an 'experience' rather than a job title, says John Amaechi How can these philosophical and psychological alternatives to the meaning of 'leadership' help bosses up their game? What does it mean to be 'a leader'? On the face of it, it may seem obvious. But a psychologist has urged bosses to reconsider their textbook definition, redefining leadership as 'an experience' rather than a job role. British-American psychologist John Amaechi, OBE, spoke with the World Economic Forum as part of their Meet The Leader podcast. During the talk, he spoke about leadership being neither "a title or role". Instead, he says, “It's a promise of a kind of experience. It says 'if I only have the power to influence these two people, I will wield that wisely and well'.”