With technology advancing rapidly, as well as our use of it, everything has changed. The social impacts are evident with an estimated 5 billion people owning a smartphone, not forgetting our use of social media. Recent statistics show the average person spends 136 minutes per day on these networking platforms. The same goes for business, where technology continues to transform communication, administration and culture. Despite the evolution, however, the real difference doesn't lie in all the new; it's recognising that the old way of doing things no longer serves us for the future.
The very fact that we still use the term 'old business' when referring to the way some companies still operate in the corporate world means that something isn't quite right. It's like buying a great pair of trainers that fit your foot, provide support and help you move forward. After running in them every day though, there comes a time when they are worn out, your foot shape might have changed, and they can no longer provide what they used to because they no longer fit. They served you well for their lifespan, but now it's time for embracing the new.
With all the developments seen, the conversation often centred around how tech changes business and how we can adapt when really now, it’s about focusing on how everything has changed for our people and how we can accommodate that. To do this, however, we need to operate a sense of care in the corporate world. This isn't just about having another policy document focused on the safety and welfare of your people, it's about truly connecting in with what life is like for them and how we can work with that, together.
“We no longer live in a time where we can throw a blanket way of being over everyone and expect conformity.”
In the past - as well as in many places still today - both the professional and personal lives of a person existed very independently but the very fact we separate parts of our lives isn't in the very best interest of anyone's overall wellbeing. Why? Because to achieve this more holistic approach, we need connection, not disconnection. The way we use social media has started to erode the line between the two parts of our worlds as you might very well know what Julie in accounts had for breakfast and what Dave from sales bench pressed at the gym yesterday before you even clock in. We’ve also seen it as so many of us are tuning in to meeting now from our homes.
But this goes deeper than that, it's not about senior executives knowing the ins and outs of everyone's personal lives, but it's about creating an environment where both can co-exist. Perhaps a member of your team has a particularly challenging home office environment for example and it’s not always easy for them to jump on a call. It’s about being aware of the stresses and strains of your team, the challenges in their lifestyles. It's about being mindful of this, allowing space for them to express what they need to and responding appropriately to it. It is about best supporting them.
Their personal situation is one thing, but what about their professional goals? You might have a creative recruit who doesn't blend as well with everyone else but has some knock out ideas and unmatched ambition. You have the choice to encourage what made them stand out in the first place and the reason you hired them, rather than encouraging them to be just like the others. By recognising their dreams and aspirations and supporting them in achieving them, not only will you bring out the best in your people, but it will inevitably have a positive impact on them and their team alongside their performance, productivity and the company.
The generations have also changed, and so too has what they are seeking from their work; old models won't work with new people. Don't force the square into a circle hole. We no longer live in a time where we can throw a blanket way of being over everyone and expect conformity. The words we use are even changing and rightly so; we don't talk about employees, we talk about people because we are all people. It might seem like a game of semantics to some, but it can have genuinely positive implications for others when their work environment feels less like a class or hierarchical divide and more like a team with various roles and responsibilities all working together towards the same outcome.
“To keep up with the changes needed in your company -you must keep up with what changes for your people.”
No more than a student who is heading into an exam or people you meet on a given day - and especially those in your office - everyone is carrying something bigger with them than the task that's in front of them. To get into this mindset, will at least work towards greater awareness when it comes to caring in the corporate world. It's not about being soft or losing sight of company goals; it's about working with your people and providing a space that replaces stress with understanding.
Can you imagine what could happen if you create the space for creativity, ambition and productivity? Can you feel all the energy you will give to your people when you take away the demands and provide a place of comprehension where not everything will run like a science experiment because we are all complicated humans with an entirely different set of values, thoughts, feelings, emotions and challenges facing us on a given day? Imagine a workplace where that was understood? It's the work environment of the future. It's happening now in pockets, but the corporate awakening has begun, and it's needed to move forward. The only question you have to ask yourself is if you are ready to join the movement?
The old way may have seen us through for many decades, but we are living in a time where everything moves faster and will continue to unfold at lightning speed. It’s also one where everything The only sure-fire way to keep up is to keep up with your people. That's how you foster caring in the corporate world; turn to your people. Ask them questions. Listen to them and hear them. Discuss their answers and most crucially, act on what they say. Tune into them and make sure you stay on the same frequency. That's the best way to stay connected and most importantly operate a culture of care.