The Future of Work – Shaped by COVID

July 8, 2020

While Covid continues to wreak havoc and turn our world upside down, one day it’s going to be under control and we’ll go back to business as usual.

But we won’t.

Every facet of every business has been thrown for a loop. None more than start-ups.

The virus did a lot of damage but it also changed some things, confirmed some things and made us discover that many of things we relied on and were doing are just wrong or could be better.

I listened to a recent Facebook chat where Mark Zuckerberg spelled out a lot of what they have learned and what  this new normal is going to look like. I’d like to take some of those ideas, filter them down and make them especially relevant to founders.  Here is the video of the chat – well worth your time.

Here are my takeaways from the chat and my giveaways to founders everywhere:

Cast a wide net

  • When you can work from anywhere, the world is your talentpool oyster. No more having to fish in just the big city near the office. You can fish anywhere. Literally, you can run your business anywhere and hire, anyone anywhere that you believe can make your operation better. So find those talented pearls you know you need and clutch them.
  • And while you’re at it, make them diverse pearls. Different people from different walks of life are now no longer too far away to walk into your business life. This is your chance to invite people of color, women and those with different life experiences than yourself into your tent and make that tent a fortress. All the research shows that getting different points of view from different backgrounds only makes you and your start-up more well-rounded, more prepared and more complete.

Find your new metrics

  • Change the way you measure productivity and what success looks like for employees – that isn’t dependent on what office you sit in (HQ, branch or branch’s branch ) or how many hours you work. It’s about the impact you have and the work you create.

Your people are your currency

  • During this crisis, you didn’t have an office or customers or a business, but you had your people. Without them, you have nothing.  It’s so much clearer than ever before. Founders are realizing that taking care of your employees is the most important business metric they have and they have to maximize it.

Now build off that

  • Candidates can see that companies are really leaning into their employees – first interview question going forward should be:  Tell me what you did for your employees during this crisis, how did you help them? What actions did you take? How are you thinking about this going forward? And so on.

Empowerment to the people

  • Employees now have a new sense of control and flex – not easy for founders at first, but great opportunity. Encourage it. Over communicate and give clear goals.  Help your employees form a plan and organize their day – balancing between work and home.  See who goes out and leads. Free of the traditional office structure and barriers, some of your employees who once laid low, couldn’t find their voice, felt marginalized – can and hopefully will embrace their newfound flexibility and independence, feel empowered and thrive. Nurture that because it’s going to be a beautiful thing to see, and it’s only going to make you and everyone around you better.

More of the good

  • Wasted hours commuting, missing family time. No more. Work is more efficient and your ROI on leisure is going to be through the roof. Work/life balance is the new black so create a schedule that works for your work but make sure it also works for you. Be at work at 9 am in your pajamas. Be home for dinner at 5. Maybe in your pajamas. Who cares? At Oceans, we don’t judge.

Move away but never leave

  • And guess where those new leaders are going to take their talents? Maybe nowhere. Moving to a new location is one of the main reasons people leave a job. Or shall we say WAS. Now that you can work from anywhere, you can move anywhere you dream and still keep driving impact. Although that Maui timezone thing is gonna crush you.

Less baggage makes for a playing field

  • It’s so much more about the work now. With a renewed focus on the output, all that garbage we used to use as indicators (like who worked the latest, who had the best relationships, who sat where), they’re all gone. All that’s left is producing and innovating as a team.

Nothing is normal yet. But it will be. And it’s going to be fantastic for everyone. Founders, investors and employees included.