Not sure about you, but there is something different about the current situation (Feb 2021). I wrote about the 7B’s as our responses to lockdown, and I believe still that viewpoint stands. However, there is something new, right now, which is different; it is a mistiness, a malaise, fatigue, sapped, brain fog. To be clear, this is not a loss of motivation, depression or other mental issues — which are all very real and getting to everyone, but I am talking about something else.
In 1996 (web 1.0), the market discovered an online market opportunity. Everyone took their physical businesses and replicated it exactly (give or take a bit) to work in a web browser. On-line arrived. We quickly worked out that this was an unmitigated disaster as a user experience, operationally and back office was a mess. Come 2001 post-crash, we stopped taking off-line thinking and plonking it on-line and saying to ourselves; this is fab. We started digital-first, design from first principles.
2020 we were forced to take the remains of businesses that we not online, the offline ways of working and stuff it online. Meetings, innovation, communication, management, reporting, selling, socialising, dating, laughing, onboarding, education, training — everything else we did in person and face to face. It worked at first as it was new, we had to do it and in a way, it was a challenge which we and our team all rose to.
We have just replicated the 1996 sorry mess — we imaged that we could take what was offline and stuff it into the tech available and it would be magic. My fatigue I am sure is because it has not been designed digital-first, to be specific I mean the workflow, UI and UX. Starting from “what work is needed” and not starting from “does this great scalable platform do the job!”
We have just replicated the 1996 sorry mess — we imaged that we could take what was offline and stuff it into the tech available and it would be magic.
Perhaps we need to stop, look in the mirror and say to ourselves: “look, this pandemic is not going away.” We need to work out what work needs to be done and how we can do it digital-first rather than pretending it is all ok and that we can ignore it as we will all go back to normal — please no. Just expecting everyone to buckle down and get on is no longer a good strategy.
Why has it broken because what we designed as augmentation has now become the expected? This is never going to work.
I ask three questions. (a nod to Robbie Stamp)
Is this working for us? — No, it is not working, the malaise, fatigue and brain fog are a clue. We got away with it for a time, but this is not a long term solution
Who is us? — those working from home but the work is more than working at home, we have lost our connectedness, bonding and togetherness
Of whom are we asking the question? — Senior leadership and Directors who owe a duty of care and responsibility. It is now obvious that we have to reimagine work starting from digital-first for all those aspects of our working lives that we had left as they were too hard and difficult.
How am I responding?
Since group calls are not working for me, I have swapped to mostly 1 on 1 calls, and mostly trying to avoid video. Am encouraging walking whilst chatting. On these calls, I am avoiding updates, task lists, chasing and content that is shared to focus on us as individuals and chat together about the hurdles we see and can call out. Together as teams, we are starting to identify what we need to design to be digital-first, but it is far from clear right now.