The modern workplace has experienced a profound shift in how organizations function from the top-down due to the significant changes caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. This transformative period has led firms to rethink and reinvent their work procedures, creating a new era defined by hybrid models, creating workplace dynamics and an increased focus on workplace culture.
During a recent in-depth chat with Simon Davis, the CEO of Purposeful Intent, we gained insight into the many hurdles and opportunities coming from the evolving nature of work. We dig further into the conversation, thoroughly examining Davis's experiences, viewpoints, and practical advice for organizations as they navigate the complexities of the post-pandemic world.
Purposeful Intent's CEO, Simon Davis, shared an account of the company's beginnings. Purposeful Intent developed from a collective contemplating the future of work into a dynamic community based on larger areas of the workplace and living as a result of his considerable background in corporate real estate. Davis' vision went beyond a simple focus on physical buildings, recognizing the critical roles that HR, hospitality, technology, and legal factors play in defining the future of work.
Davis elaborated on the critical relevance of workplace engagement in this changing context, emphasizing the inherent capacity of the workplace to engage individuals by offering a platform for collaboration, creativity, and meaningful contact. However, Davis observed a challenge in the U.S., where discussions often revolve around convincing employees to go back into physical offices to promote employee engagement rather than fostering and building an environment that would naturally draw them in. According to Davis,
"Our expectations of what the workplace should have changed dramatically."
The conversation then moved on to businesses' varied tactics for coping with hybrid work. Davis was skeptical of generalized requirements mandating people to return to work, pointing out that these tactics had failed to produce the intended outcomes. He stated, "I'm seeing hybrid policies that are working. Probably the best one." Instead, Davis highlights a successful example in Boston, where a financial services company has implemented a hybrid policy. With specific schedules, employees must be in the office for one week each month to ensure team collaboration and employee engagement. The company manages in-person meetings during that week, optimizing face-to-face interactions. The organization has invested significantly in talent and hospitality, creating an environment where employees are engaged. Davis emphasizes that this tailored approach contrasts with “blanket mandates”, sharing instances where companies enforcing five-day office weeks have faced resignations, indicating a need for more flexible and personalized strategies.
Davis challenged conventional thinking by recommending a move beyond standard productivity indicators for assessing the performance of new hybrid work frameworks. He argued for a greater emphasis on workplace experience and effectiveness, identifying industry professionals such as Corinne Murray and Ali Khan as role models in this structure change. Davis stated, "I prefer looking at things like workplace experience, workplace effectiveness. My old colleague, Corinne Murray, talks a lot about the effectiveness of space."
Reflecting on the post-COVID era, Davis acknowledged the challenges companies face, particularly in securing buy-in from top-level management. He stressed the need for corporations to adapt to the new emphasis on inclusion, diversity, and flexibility. According to Davis,
"The challenge companies are facing is still around managing that. C Suite is still not necessarily bought into it."
The conversation shifted toward the evolving responsibilities of middle management, especially in the ongoing epidemic. "From the middle management perspective, it's about understanding better the people, their needs, and how they operate" Davis states. He emphasized the necessity of middle managers knowing their teams' particular requirements and issues, calling for a tailored strategy based on individual circumstances.
Simon additionally addresses how his strategy for connecting developed from mostly real interactions with people to a much more electronic and global perspective. Davis notes the significant expansion of his networks through online channels before meeting individuals in person, pointing out technology's extended worldwide reach. He goes on to say, "My networks have grown so much more significantly electronically because now most people I connect with before I actually meet with them in person."
He discussed the crucial need for purposeful relationship-building in today's hybrid work environment, particularly as the change from physical to online interaction becomes more prominent. He stressed the increased global reach made possible by technology, underlining the critical role of interaction in the modern workplace. In Davis's words, "The ability to talk to people in other parts of the world… I think connectivity is paramount."
Consistently, Davis emphasized the importance of generating meaningful experiences while addressing the problem of developing a company's culture without a physical location. According to Davis,
"Culture is not brick and mortar. Culture is what you can bring together."
He pushed for an organizational change, asking firms to see culture as the result of shared experiences rather than physical infrastructure.
Davis's personal experiences significantly influence the growth and connection of his network. He promotes the genuine incorporation of personal factors into interactions with colleagues, such as family conversations and sensitive themes. Davis believes this willingness to share benefits everyone since it fosters a sense of connection, whether remotely or in person. "I was very much a shaken by the hand, look in the whites of their eyes kind of person," he says. I'm not sure how many individuals I had linked to me on Linkedin before covid. But now I know a lot of the folks that work at. I will communicate with them for months, if not years, before ever seeing them in person." He mentions the relevance of creating experiences rather than actual locations, emphasizing that culture is mostly about what a firm brings together more than its tangible form. He gives an instance of a corporation in Boston that spends heavily on hospitality, demonstrating how they value the experience as a fundamental component of their cultural identity. In the words of Davis, "The physical embodiment of a company is less important than the experience that they're offering."
As the discussion ended, Davis recommended that everybody look into Purposeful Intent as an excellent tool for continued insights into the future of hybrid work. He underlined the company's commitment to providing relevant information and teased upcoming events centered on the future of work for frontline staff and conversations on culture and hospitality. In Davis's words, "Purposeful Intent is an obvious link for me. We'll get a lot better at sharing information around that."
The conversation with Simon Davis gives an in-depth look at the challenges and possibilities in the ever-changing world of employment. Davis provides subtle ideas for firms navigating the post-pandemic era, from the complexities of workplace engagement and hybrid work practices to middle management responsibilities and the need to develop a culture outside office boundaries. As businesses adapt to shifting work dynamics, Davis' insight offers a practical roadmap for establishing an inclusive, flexible, and engaging hybrid work environment.