In today’s workforce, a high percentage of people have been forced to work from home or not work at all. At the same time our elementary schools and day care facilities are closed creating a more demanding situation for those workers with young children. Six months ago, we would have never thought this work-from-home model’s success possible. Still, many companies have been able to maintain a close to normal revenue stream with little if any terminations of staff due to productivity issues. A few of these companies are now considering maintaining this work structure into the future. Without a doubt, some companies will conceive that this “new normal” as better than before and it might be for some workers. What the company leaders might not be considering is that without the society-imposed restrictions, this company-wide model would not have been considered and for good reasons.
As individuals, our society has always affected us; just without us realizing it. Even the ultra-successful among us believe that their limits are solely personal but they really are not. This has never been more evident than today. Without a doubt, when it comes to temporary change due to outside forces, the American people will always believe that the sky is the limit. We have a remarkable “can do spirit”. At least, as long as everyone has to operate under the same parameters. We are an adapting people but temporarily acclimating our professional life to societal restraints imposed upon everyone may not be a good long-term business model. Especially, when it comes to the need for balancing all three of our personas; our professional, personal and spiritual lives. We have to take into consideration that all decisions have consequences; some of which do not show up until years later. As a society, any “new normal” must positively affect all three areas of human life and do so for a lifetime. Behavioral science clearly teaches us that behavioral change manifested from being forced to do anything, is not the same as changes occurring from a personal choice. This three to six month “behavioral change experiment” being caused by the pandemic will not provide adequate data to warrant replacing centuries of workplace design and management. It will however, reveal more possibilities for integrated changes into the future.
In order for long-term positive change to be predicted the study would depend heavily on the value of the truths. A caveat to any short-term problem is that the truth can be difficult to discern. In an effort to weed out the falsehoods in the solution process, one only needs to turn to history and the ever-present Natural Laws of our planet. Natural laws are the eternal truths not effected by temporary abnormalities. They never change so they are always dependable. They never lie so they can always be relied upon in every situation. We have already covered one, our three personas.
Under the most routine of conditions, when confronting challenging issues; humans naturally try to make positive changes in their life. Even when doing so, when our normal practices are interrupted by an unforeseen event, we all struggle with change because we are creatures of habit. This is no different for business leaders or the rank and file. Our routines take hold of our life because of another natural law; The Law of Action. This law says that we only do things for three reasons; to increase pleasure, avoid pain or for the love of another. This truth controls every decision we make. Whenever we find an area in our life that needs to be changed the Law of Action automatically comes into play as well. We used this law to form our previous habits so we have to use this same law to form the new and, in this case, required changes. When this disruption moves on and our life rhythms return, some of the less disciplined people will begin to fail in a work from home environment. Not because they are bad people but because they need the structure of direct supervision to guide their actions. People can be forced to do anything for short periods of time but given increased choices the above law will guide their decisions. This shutdown worked because society used the law; the love for our neighbors as the compelling reason. The law worked the way it always does. Think of this law as the “why” behind the “what” I want to change.
There is another law whose power cannot be reduced or ignored when changes want to be made permanent. The Law of Positive Change creates the blueprint for successful change. This truth lays out three requirements needed to affect any changes we seek. First, we must have a burning desire to act. A burning desire to change; to reach the pleasure, avoid the pain or the need to protect the ones we love. Second, the willingness to apply daily effort. Again, as during this pandemic, no choices are given and for a short period of time, the effort required can work but once options return, other pleasures will compete for the efforts required to change. All change requires constant repetitious actions which will become the foundation of the new habit. When people have an abundance of choice, we can easily be drawn off track; thus, the need for close supervision. Many people need that high touch supervision to function at their peak performance. And third, we must be patient and allow time for the habits to take hold. Good leaders recognize, that prior to this forced workflow model, close supervision was required for some people and that for others it can be a hinderance. Today, this is not happening and people are not being terminated because supervisors understand we are forcing them to operate differently. In the current short-term environment this is acceptable but it cannot continue long-term. This law is the “how” behind the “why” people are able to change.
Finally, we must contend with another law; The Law of the Stages of Time. There are only three stages of time; Past, Present and Future. No more, no less. Understanding where we are makes a difference in the use of the prior laws. The requirements of the Law of Positive Change unite with the Stages of Time.
Requirements of Positive Change Stages of Time
A Burning Desire Future
Daily Effort Present
Passage of Time Past
Even with the support and guidance of the natural laws, we still will struggle to make positive changes in our lives but with these laws, change is always possible. Without them, change is impossible. Both scenarios depend heavily on the power that choices bring to the table. If any company tries to use this temporary choice-less situation as the basis for a new model of workforce design, they will have to deal with the negative outcomes these laws will present to them. For those of us who understands these truths, the return to a successful normal will be quick and painless. In addition, the lessons we learn through this tumultuous experience can be applied to all future change.
Anthony “Tony” Boquet, the author of “The Bloodline of Wisdom, The Awakening of a Modern Solutionary”
If this is my last post, I want all to know there was only one purpose for all that I have written; to have made a positive difference in the lives of others.