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Returning, Reimagining: Looking to the horizons ahead of us and the opportunities to be found in reimagining work

In the space of just a couple of months, the world and how we operate within it looks very different. Right now we all find ourselves focusing on what the concept of returning looks like… whether it’s returning to an office-based working environment or, more broadly, what returning to a semblance of normality (or new normality) might look like for us all – a phenomenon that’s nicely described as the ‘new weird’ by our Head of Architecture, Mark Smith, in his latest blog here.

Returning, Reimagining: Looking to the horizons ahead of us and the opportunities to be found in reimagining work

The one thing we know with certainty is that this view will keep shifting on us as we move through the weeks and months ahead.

As leaders of organisations, it has never been possible for anyone to see into the future, and it’s probably fair to say that as leaders we’ve all found ourselves making decisions in the here and now with greater speed and, most likely, a whole lot less certitude than we’re accustomed to or naturally comfortable with.

Speaking for Empired, what we’re seeing as a result – both for our customers and certainly for ourselves – is the emergence of a method of business and mode of working that’s fundamentally different.

We have less time at our disposal to have conversations. We exist in the now and need to make much more immediate decisions. Our decision time horizons are shorter than they have ever been.

And in any given day, we might find ourselves in a scenario where we’re locking in a decision for the long-term but saying, This is our decision for today, based on what we know today, but the decision might be different in four weeks’ time.

From Resolve, to Resilience – and then to Return and Reimagination: Thinking and acting across McKinsey’s five horizons 

Given these greatly compressed time/decision horizons, I’ve personally found McKinsey’s five horizons very useful as a way of helping to map out the path ahead.

From McKinsey & Company’s COVID-19: Briefing note, March 30 – Our latest perspectives on the coronavirus pandemic
From McKinsey & Company’s COVID-19: Briefing note, March 30 – Our latest perspectives on the coronavirus pandemic

As organisations, we were all thrust into a situation where we found ourselves in resolve mode, addressing the immediate challenges that COVID-19 presents us across numerous facets: our workforces, customers, supply chains and business partners (and the of course the list goes on).

Organisations then moved quickly into the resilience phase, addressing things like near-term cash management challenges and the economic knock-on effects and their impacts.

And while we’re still simultaneously resolving and building our resilience, now we’re looking to move to a return mode, where a clearer and more certain picture begins to emerge and we can create a detailed plan to return our businesses to a (new) status quo.

With the first three stages in train, we can then shift our sights to reimagine, where we can design our next normal. Finally, at the reform stage we can look more broadly across our respective industries to understand potential shifts in our regulatory and competitive environments.

What does reimagining work look like for us right now?

For us as an organisation right now, like many of our customers, we’re taking a phased, slow and steady approach to returning to our offices, guided – amongst other things – by what our people are telling us they need and are most concerned about.

Interestingly, 60% of our people have told us they are quite happy working at home right now. What this shows us is that we really have proved out the ability – and willingness – of our people to work remotely, and for the business to support this. This realisation has certainly been a real silver lining for us, and I know for sure – while we don’t know quite yet what this will look like – that, like many organisations, we will adopt new ways of working, drawing on the many positive aspects we’ve discovered from this experience.

Speaking personally, for me and our leadership team, we’re starting to get our heads high enough above the parapet to begin to see across slightly longer time/decision horizons. And while I wouldn’t go as far as to say we’ve returned to anything quite like business as usual, we’re returning to six-monthly business planning (where in BAU mode it would be 12-monthly) and our regular annual budgeting processes.

Two weeks ago Russell Baskerville, our Managing Director, and I meet with the whole company for our regular Virtual Roadshow (using Teams Live Events – which has really come into its own for us as an internal communications tool lately!). Four times a year we use this roadshow forum (an even split of in-person and virtual events – or at least they were, pre-COVID-19!) as an opportunity for us to measure our progress against, and share stories that bring to life our strategic priorities.

What’s truly encouraging – and humbling – to see is the inroads that we’ve made against these priorities since our last roadshow series back in late February and early March. They’re not necessarily the specific inroads we would – or could – have ever expected or predicted, but they are important and significant. And these learnings will absolutely help inform us as a business as we #ReimagineWork into the future.

On the act of reimagining for the future: #ReimagineWork

Over the past two months, one of our greatest priorities has been to bring together people from across the organisation to think about how we can help our customers today, adding the most value to them right now, and to plan for the future beyond the current situation.

These efforts have been brought together as #ReimagineWork, where we have pulled together tools, resources and insights to share to help our customers secure their businesses, accelerate digital engagement with their customers and enable their people in new ways.

Recent tools and resources include a number of on-demand webinars, whitepapers and blogs, and our own Guide to Working Remotely. At the moment, our People Experience and Response teams are hard at work pulling together Our New Way of Working guide, which we will share here shortly as part of the #ReimagineWork tools and resources we continue to share.

And as I mentioned above, Our New Way of Working guide is coming soon.

We will continue to add to this site over the weeks and months ahead, continuing to populate #ReimagineWork with webinars, resources, articles, links and blogs from our leaders and experts. We hope these provide some value for you and your organisation – and if there is something you need right now that’s missing, please just let us know.

Or perhaps you have a question, big or small, that just needs answering quickly. We’ve set up Ask Intergen Anything so we can put you in touch with one of our experts directly for a chat. Please reach out to us at any time, with any question.

Our purpose in life has always been to help organisations to think forward and achieve tomorrow’s advantage today, using technology as an enabler – and this mission has never felt more important to us than it does right now.


This blog is part of the #ReimagineWork series. For more experts' insights, clients' experiences and to download our datasheets, click the banner.

For more experts' insights, clients' experience and to download our datasheets, click the banner #datareimagine

Posted by: Simon Bright, Chief Operating Officer, Empired | 08 June 2020

Tags: Strategy, #ReimagineWork

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