Working in the Flow of Life

Nearly every large company I interview tells me that ‘remote work’ has become one of their biggest strategies going forward, despite the fact that more than 50% of companies have no remote-work policy.

Josh Bersin, 2020

The future of work is already here. The changes we expected to see by 2030 have happened within just a few short weeks. However, as Bersin observes, most of us are unprepared. Our Senior Consultant Olivia Lory Kay explores the implications.

Even within digitally mature organisations, the scale of change has taken us by surprise. A colleague recently remarked, ‘I’m not working from home – I’m living at work!’ It feels like an apt observation for days spent working from offices that will, at some point, return to being kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and hallways.

Wherever and however work now takes place, learning is key. Be that learning how to physically connect a device, make the most of video conferencing or manage your workload remotely. Or upskilling or even reskilling people as jobs in some sectors are shed and new ones created.

In 2018, Bersin coined the phrase learning in the flow of work. But now requirements have changed again, we’re all learning to work in the flow of life. And that means finding new ways to deliver work while mentally meeting the demands of our new normal in these business unusual times.

In an era of low-to-no demand for some services, three are in high demand: upskilling, optimising and conversion.

Upskilling can be self-directed or requested. And it might involve individuals or in many current cases, whole teams at scale.

Optimising means acknowledging and using what you have at your fingertips today, to help meet your future of learning challenges. Be that developing new organisational structures or making best use of the communications and learning platforms at your fingertips.

Conversion currently means making the change from physical to digital. With blend optimisation now focused on how to make the most of digital alone and digital together.

L&D also has to meet objectives to deliver existing learning while using very different delivery infrastructures. The location of learning or work may have changed, but we still need to remain connected and ‘in the flow’ of what we’re tasked to deliver.

The single biggest threat to flow for most of us is fear. Fear challenges our abilities to stay calm and keep tuned into our work wavelengths.

Learning professionals know that fear is a blocker. Fright and flight leave no room for learning anything new and ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ is a slogan that belongs to a world we’ve already left.

In the past, knowledge workers would often work from home to remain more focused. Now more than ever, we need that focus. We need that calm. And organisations are being challenged to recreate their cultures so that we can acknowledge uncertainties while also supporting and extending our collective strength.

Feedback has always been an important part of an effective learning culture. But with so many people now working remotely, creating ways for learning loops to happen has become a crucial part of working in the flow of life.

Successfully leading these changes demands qualities we know we’ll all need a lot more of in future – empathy, creativity and collaboration. Timescales have shortened from weeks and months to hours and days. Learning to work within the flow of life means accelerating and scaling up change and supporting people to manage the emotional and practical challenges that come with this.

Upskill, Optimise, Convert. You might be focused on one or all three – separately or together. But whatever your priorities, you’ll almost certainly be accelerating your Future of Learning strategy.

And now more than ever, strategy needs to deliver.

Because in the coming weeks and months our success will be measured in how we succeed in helping our people learn and adapt to working in the flow of life.

Brightwave are working to support clients with these challenges today and would love the opportunity to share our experience with you.


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