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In March 2020 the UK came to a halt, leaving businesses adjusting their usual way of working to a virtual world of back to back meetings. The “new normal” quickly became a ritual of zoom links, passwords, camera on/off, “am I on mute” meetings and businesses adapted and found their virtual rhythm.

Lockdown, coming out of lockdown, global recession, environmental disasters, local lockdowns, second wave, a predicted winter spike. What have we learned after 9 months of constantly shifting sands? There is no new normal.  

Employees have been asked to adapt again and return to the office, and with this weeks announcement there will be another U turn for many. Cue more confusion and chaos and an administrative nightmare for leaders. Businesses now face the challenge of trying to manage hybrid teams who are home and office based.

So how do you connect and motivate a split team whilst leading a business through mass environmental change?

2020 has been the greatest test to management and leadership alike. A huge, impactful, life threatening upheaval to our daily lives has created an extraordinarily stressful time where leaders and managers have to demonstrate their value every day.

Constantly changing goal posts has led to quick decision making that will have impacted all employees almost overnight and with the future so unclear, what are the key areas to focus on during uncertainty?

What do we keep and what do we throw out? 
This isn’t just about performance and results.  This is about leadership and resilience.  What were the downsides of remote working and what were the benefits.  Do we need people back in the office? It is vital at this stage to reflect on whether we just want bums on seats and presenteeism or if it’s actually required to meet our business goals.  If our teams are happier and work better at home, what is the logic behind bringing them back into the office? Bringing teams back into the physical work environment because “that’s how its always been done” isn’t a strategic decision, It could make team members feel devalued and could imply a lack of trust. What are the business reasons that support your decisions? Communicate them to the team so everyone understands the rationale.   

What are the key lessons?  
How do we use what we’ve learned over the last 6 months?  Everything that has happened, all the data is useful intelligence. Intelligence that we must use to move forward.  We can’t expect people to return to the old ways of working.  There is no going back to “how things were”.  Are there glaring gaps in the business in terms of support, skills or knowledge? What challenges did the leadership team have to overcome? What are we still trying to figure out? What is the deeper impact on our teams and their welfare? What does this mean for the business as whole? How do we match the needs of the team to the strategic aims of the organisation? How do we do all this without losing our minds? 

Rising to meet the challenges of 2021
This work needs to be done with compassion and kindness. Leading a team throughout an unprecedented global event is akin to spinning plates whilst standing on quicksand. It is simply unrealistic to hold people to the same ideals we had prior to Covid 19. We need to reflect and re-assess.  

The challenges of 2020 are not over yet, leadership teams face a long and complex struggle.  The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. 

With the countdown on to finally end this crazy year, we can start looking back at the high’s and low’s in our businesses/industries and what we have learnt. What can we carry forward to 2021?

Our October virtual roundtable event discussed the role of leading hybrid teams during this unprecedented time. A conversation that will likely continue throughout the course of the year. If you’re interested in joining any of our virtual events, click here for more information about how to register for a free space.  


Alternatively get in touch with me directly at hello@jocowlin.com, I’d love to talk about how I can help.  

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