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Wundamail Voices: Future of Work with Andrea Pinabell

August 26, 2020

Workplace Culture, Wundamail Voices

Today's Wundamail Voices comes from the President of Southface Institute, Andrea Pinabell. We caught up with her to see where the future of work in heading and why that future needs to be a green one.

What do you think the future of work looks like post-crisis? 
The pandemic has upended how and where we work. While this has been hugely disruptive, it has also provided some silver linings – global transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions are down, and the workforce that can work from home is able to reduce commute times and create better work/life balance. In the future, these new habits of where we work and executing that work in a digital landscape will become more commonplace.

If the workforce can be productive in this “new normal,” then even when the pendulum swings back a bit towards the traditional office environment, I believe there is a lot about today’s landscape that is here to stay. The better question is with the changing ways of “where” we work and how we can reframe traditional commercial spaces to be more relevant, such as urban affordable housing, indoor agriculture, etc.

How should managers/leaders prepare?
Creating and maintaining a sense of belonging and connectedness for staff members is and will continue to be a challenge in this new normal. Successful leaders have had to pivot and be flexible to the needs of team members in new ways. According to the “Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle, to create that sense of belonging, leaders need to possess three basic qualities: Energy, Individualization and Future Orientation. These traits need to transition into our constantly shifting work environment in innovative ways to ensure we are engaging our teams and they feel our energy and collective purpose, even in the absence of face-to-face contact, replaced now by video conferencing.

Do you think this is a step in the right direction and why? 
I will be honest: I miss seeing my teams, feeling the collective energy through group brainstorming and side conversations in the hall. With that said, I do think we are moving in the right direction. Different people get their energy and do their best work in different ways and in different places. Providing that flexibility and focusing on results, as opposed to how many hours a staff person was at their desk, will produce happier, more productive teams.

What tips do you have for restarting teams?
When I think about restarting teams, I always try and center everyone on our collective goals. That way, we all know what we are workings towards. Also – make it fun!

If you have any other areas that you'd like to include, we'd love to hear it!
Video fatigue is real! It is okay to go back to doing calls and not always require video. Also, check in with your team members on an individual and personal basis. This year has been a hard one for all of us. Between the pandemic, economic uncertainty, the ongoing movement for racial justice and continuing climate change challenges, it is more important than ever to come together and listen to one another, share our ideas and look ahead with a clearer and more purposeful vision about what drives our work.

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