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A future VOW – predicting a “back to normal”

By Gavin Heaton

Over the last three months, we have been having conversations with friends, clients, industry partners and business connections across the board. Since Covid, some people have lost and found jobs, changed industry or moved out of the city to adopt a “tree change” lifestyle. Sometimes they have done all these things at the same time. So not only are we seeing transformations in people’s work – we are seeing transformations in the ways we work, when we work and even why we work. It’s a social and industrial experiment that is unfolding before our eyes.

Every transformation leaves disruption in its path. And leaders at all levels will be considering “what next” – Boards and CEOs will be needing to revisit strategy and re-bed it down. Executives will be wanting to manage changing conditions and expectations, and teams and individuals will be re-evaluating their roles, performance and expectations. Speaking with dozens of people over the last few weeks, we are hearing repeated themes – what we are calling the “future VOW:

  • Values
  • Organisational strategy
  • Wellbeing.

Almost all of the transformations underway or working their way through our systems fall into these categories. For example, consider this Tweet and thread from Chris Herd, CEO of remote infrastructure platform, Firstbase.

It’s worth reviewing the thread in full, but some key points from our perspective include:

  • Talent transformation: when we all work from home, talent is highly mobile and highly available. This impacts both values and organisational strategy
  • Remote burnout: productivity is “going through the roof”. This impacts wellbeing – but can be mitigated with both values and strategy
  • Remote first: companies are choosing to be remote first – with 90% of workforces indicating that they have no desire to work full time in offices ever again. This will impact all three areas.
  • Internal culture and communities: the link between culture and communities of practice will create new centres of gravity within organisations. This requires strategy and values alignment.


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