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HR professionals have a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to redesign work as organisations build back after the pandemic, according to Professor Lynda Gratton.
“If we don’t get this right, shame on us. We have a crucial role to play,” the London Business School academic and author told delegates in her keynote speech to this year’s CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE).
Professor Gratton argued that “hybrid [working] is absolutely the future”, but said that a number of long-term trends had been leading organisations to the current situation before the pandemic hit.
Longer life expectancy, automation, and the increase in women entering the workforce and progressing to more senior positions had all had an impact on employees’ perceptions of their careers and engagement with their employers, she said.
The unusual influence of the pandemic, she explained, is that so many organisations will be going through a "refreezing" of policies and processes at the same time after a period of "unfreezing" thanks to unprecedented change.
Moving forward, HR would need to listen to employees in order to redesign work, but with caution.
“If you only design work around what people want you’ll have a Yahoo! moment,” she said, referring to a time in 2013 when the web company’s CEO Marissa Mayer decreed that everyone could work from home, only to insist they all returned to the office when it didn’t work out.
“Everything you do to redesign work has to help employees be more productive,” she added.
From a design perspective, this means looking at the type of work individuals do, how knowledge flows in the organisation and opportunities to bring peo