2020 is a year we will not forget so soon. The Corona virus has changed all of our lives significantly. It has also held up a mirror to our society, put its finger in the wound and shown us once again that the way we live and work today is far from the end of the line. On the contrary: many things that we (as a society, not Tandemploy ;) ) clung to convulsively before Corona turned out to be superfluous – be it costly business trips, huge office complexes, mandatory presence or the fear of digital technologies.
We (at Tandemploy :-) ) have listed 12 things that no individual and no organization will need anymore in the new year and that we will bury once and for all as the year draws to a close.
12th Place: Working From Home as an Exception
This year, we hope that even the most stubborn antagonists of mobile work will have understood that many tasks can be done remotely (perhaps even better than on-site in the company office). In 2021, we don’t want to see any more three-step application procedures for a remote-work day. We do want to see companies that trust their employees and, above all, have confidence in their abilities! This kind of corporate culture will automatically lead to employees consciously and willingly coming into the office – to meet their colleagues, to exchange ideas, and to get creative together. The office of 2021 will be less a place of quiet work and more a place of encounters. The day in the office as the highlight of the work week – what a beautiful idea!
11th Place: Fear of Technology
Technology distracts us, makes us numb, and lonely? That may be true to some extent. But it’s not the technology that’s to blame, but primarily how we use it. We must learn to make technology work FOR us, meaning, to change our lives for the better. The opportunities that technology offers are almost limitless. Tapping into them, understanding them, and learning to use tech consciously is one of the big issues in 2021 (and 2031, and 2041…). When we use digital tools wisely and with purpose, they provide new freedom. They help us to reconnect as people, to learn from each other, to talk to each other, and to develop and implement a common idea of a good life. To do this, we need digital competence. This should be part of the curriculum in daycare centers, schools, universities and every organizational learning environment. Because fear and reservations arise primarily from ignorance and the feeling of being at the mercy of others. When we actively use technology in a creative way, it enhances our self-efficacy and creativity. We control the technology, not the other way around. That’s where we want to be!
10th Place: Off-the-shelf Training
One-size-fits-all has never been a good idea. In 2021, it will finally be laid to rest. If you want to attract people with diverse talents, experience and skills, you need diverse opportunities for learning and further development within the organization. After all, bright minds with a digital mindset are in high demand. Organizations that fail to meet the need of these minds for self-directed work and learning will lose them to the competition in no time at all – namely to companies where employees can move their careers forward of their own accord. Internal talent and opportunity marketplaces will replace off-the-shelf training and enable employees to learn on the job and in networks with their colleagues. This is what the training of the future will look like. Start: 2021.
9th Place: Unethical and Unsafe Software
Bare skin in an online meeting, hacked data after a zoom call, loss of control when the American server crashes: in times of Corona, the topic of data security has come back into focus. Whereas in the past, security concerns were often used as an argument against the use of technology and remote work altogether, companies now have the opportunity to take a serious look at the possibilities of good, secure software, based on real life experience. After all, very few companies are likely willing to abandon virtual forms of collaboration completely. The advantages, such as time savings, greater flexibility, lower costs for office space, and higher employee satisfaction, weigh too heavily. These, coupled with digital tools that focus on the responsible handling of data, offer the best prerequisites for the path to a new working world. The HR-Tech ethics advisory board published a proposal for corresponding guidelines at the beginning of the year. And there is already great software that processes data ethically, meaning for the benefit of the people who provide it. In 2021, we want to see more people analytics FOR the people!
8th Place: Separation of Professional You and Private You
We have abolished the dress code. If we can now make it possible for people to be themselves in the work context, with their strengths, weaknesses, fears, interests and needs, we will be well on the way to a people-friendly working world in 2021. Let us accept and acknowledge that no CEO or manager knows everything, that we all make mistakes and do not always make the right decisions. Let’s learn from this together and distribute responsibility and decision-making authority among several shoulders and heads, based on competence, not job title. Let us be aware that we are more than what we do professionally and that we can incorporate a lot of who we are and what we want into our job.
7th Place: Rigid Pyramid
Pyramids belong in museums, not in 21st century organizations. Developing a digital mindset also means saying goodbye to rigid hierarchies and linking decision-making power to skills and roles rather than to fixed positions at the top. Those who can and want to take on responsibility must be given the opportunity to do so.
6th Place: 40-Hour-Week
Who said that every task can be completed in exactly 40 hours? And by exactly one person? And preferably between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day? Whoever it was, they were wrong. The tasks in modern organizations are so diverse that it is simply impossible to squeeze them into a fixed time frame. Some require ten, others 40, still others 100 hours of work a week. Instead of frantically trying to fit every task into 40 hours, companies should start looking at what needs to be done, how much time each task requires, and who is best able and willing to take it on – alone, in pairs, in a job tandem, in a three-person team, or whatever constellation proves to make the most sense. The resulting roles and teams benefit not only from a more balanced workday and more time for other things not related to work, but also from the diversity of perspectives and the support from colleagues on the team. Organizations, in turn, have the security of knowing that areas will continue to run and that important knowledge will not be lost if employees drop out or leave the company. Let’s make 2021 the year we achieve more with less, but smarter work!
5th Place: Playing the Lone Warrior
Social distancing has shown us once again that we are social beings who need to interact with other people. The crisis has also sharpened our awareness that we can achieve so much more together than individually – whether it’s networked research, networked governments, networked employees in companies. It’s perfectly normal that things don’t always go smoothly, that mistakes happen and that friction occurs. But that shouldn’t stop us from pushing the concept of working and learning collaboratively further, on every organizational level. One of the most important achievements of the New Normal is to network across departmental and corporate boundaries. Top-level job sharing, shared knowledge, mentoring across positions, generation exchange, lunch dates with the CEO, internal bar camps, skill matching – totally normal in 2021.
4th Place: Planning ahead
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. John Lennon would have turned 80 this year. And his words are now more relevant than ever. The only thing that was constant in 2020 was change. We won’t get anywhere with 10-year plans and strategies for the next two to five years. What companies need is a vision, a goal to work toward, a purpose. But how we get there must be adjustable. Organizations must dare to move forward, put out feelers along the way, and then take it one step at a time. Approaching, stumbling, one step forward, one step back – that’s all perfectly okay. But we should not stand still in fear. Because one thing is clear: there is no such thing as certainty, even with a sophisticated plan. What companies can rely on, however, are their employees. They need to get to know their abilities fully, promote them and use them in flexible roles. That’s how organizations remain as agile as possible, even under changing conditions.
3rd Place: Homogeneous Teams
Homogeneity and innovation are mutually exclusive. Ten men of roughly the same age who have been socialized in roughly the same way will produce fairly expectable solutions in a brainstorming session. The situation is quite different when men, women and non-binary people of varying age ranges and cultural backgrounds come together to solve a problem. The mix of perspectives and experience is the breeding ground on which new ideas can grow, ideas that the world has not yet seen. Those who don’t trust common sense alone can consult relevant studies that prove time and again that mixed teams are more creative and successful. Tijen Onaran recently summed it up beautifully: “This year, it was noticeable that companies are positioning themselves on diversity and inclusion issues. 2021 will be the year when they will stand out if they don’t!” But positioning can’t be the be-all and end-all. We want to see action – colorful teams and ideas that change the world!
2nd Place: Michael, Thomas and Henry
In 2020, Germany was once again the global laggard on the issue of “Women in Leadership Positions”, as a recently published study by the Allbright Foundation showed. Legal requirements that rely on voluntary action, allow target values of zero, and apply to only a handful of companies, have proven ineffective. A new mandatory women’s quota for the management boards of listed companies is intended to change this in 2021. This is an important and necessary step. And yet it is a grave indictment that a quota is even needed and that there are still companies that don’t trust women with leadership roles. Yet this crisis year has shown once again that it is primarily women who keep societies running when the going gets tough – whether as nurses, saleswomen, team leaders, heads of government or homeschooling teachers for their children. And that women are founding startups that are just as awesome as startups founded by men, despite getting only a fraction of the investment capital that male founders get, is also a fact. Those who continue to deliberately ignore or suppress the potential of women will soon lose out. Innovation needs diversity. The future belongs to companies that focus on diversity, regardless of the quota. And it starts now.