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Thriving relationships during remote working: part 1

As part of the We Are Company Webinar series, we have been looking at how to enable our relationships to thrive in a time of social distancing and remote working.

On the first Webinar, Andrew Williams (one of the Founders of We Are Company) unpacked 6 relational factors that will profoundly affect our organisations in the future. It’s vital that we keep these front of mind as we make our decisions in the present.

In the first of this series of three blog posts, Simon Barrington now unpacks the first two of the six relational factors that will be enhanced in the future, explains how businesses are responding to each one in the midst of the Corona Crisis and leaves us with important questions we need to be asking now as we set future strategy and direction.

1. An enhanced focus on purpose

As we come out of the current lockdown, it is vital that all organisations go back to their founding purpose. The remaining 39 pages of your 40 page business plan can pretty much be ripped up, if not forensically re-examined. Following on from any disruption as significant and lasting as the current Corona Virus, it is natural to ask the Why? question. What will be motivating us now? Certainly, our Health will have a greater focus, as will our relationships and the proximity and connectedness of them. Key workers will be in sharp focus and the way that we reward them.

Having a purpose of purely profit will not longer cut it, instead being replaced by an increasing sense of what Frederik Laloux calls “shared purpose” amongst all of the stakeholders – employees, community, beneficiaries, donors and boards.

An organisation that I am working with is taking the opportunity in this crisis to re-examine its purpose, listening afresh to all of its stakeholders and determining whether their current purpose is shared and relevant to the challenges now facing them.

How might you engage all staff in a conversation what your core purpose statement means personally to them, and how they might all reconnect with this at this time?

2. Trust will have a renewed importance

Trust in a person or organisation comprises 3 factors – our belief in their credibility, our experience of their consistency, and their ability to build empathetic relationships.

Luke Johnson (Chair of Gail’s Bakery) argued in an article in the Sunday Times on 29th March 2020 that in this crisis “Trust will be tested to destruction” and we agree. With the anticipated failure in business, the level of furloughing of staff and the high-profile way in which customers and colleagues have been well treated or not, we fear that trust will become a scarcer commodity in the future.

This should concern every leader right now, not only because trust impacts the long-term sustainability of your brand, but also because, as Stephen Covey argues in his book “The Speed of Trust” high levels of trust enable organisations to move nimbly in moments of crisis.

I have seen clients in the midst of this crisis pivot successfully to deliver their whole training suite online – something that they thought would take them years and yet has been delivered in weeks. They are highly relational across their employee and supplier base and therefore were able to call on years of banked trust to respond at high speed.

What are you doing to build your bank of trust during this time, or will it be depleted?

Look out for Article 2 which will be appearing in a few days’ time and unpacks two more relational aspects of work that will be vital in the future.

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