Through Guy’s Eyes: Post-Pandemic Culture Crunch


There’s talk everywhere of a possible return to ‘normality’, post the lifting of the pandemic’s restrictions – but complacency could bite hard.

The parlance of “Work from Home”, “Hybrid Workspaces”, “Dynamic Workspaces”, “Smart Workspaces”, “Blended Workspaces” and “Return to Office” is being casually bandied about these days, along with catchy acronyms such as WFH, RTO, etc.  There are even pedantic debates around the semantics of the difference between “Workspace” and “Workplace”.  All word-salad, really, but does anyone truly understand the consequences of what’s coming down the track in a bigger-picture cultural sense?  Beyond these trending words, and as lockdowns ease, there are likely to be many more crunches for businesses in the implementation of their choices than meet the eye.

We hear of some organisations ‘deciding’ to continue operating virtually and others ‘deciding’ to force all employees to work under one roof.  But who decides?  Well, it’s almost never the ‘organisation’.  Typically, the policy is determined by a nominated steering committee within an organisation, tasked to conclude – amongst themselves – a prescribed way forward for the working model of the future – for everyone.  But are they best qualified to make such calls?

Our research over the past month is showing some significant potential hazards of declaring – by decree – what’s in the best interests of the business’s future:

These charts are in no way intended to imply a defense of the personal interests of the participants in the samples, although personal interests certainly play a part.  They more significantly illustrate the latent risk of unqualified policymaking to the wellbeing of culture, organisational effectiveness, competitiveness, productivity and profitability.  Some of the greatest innovations and operating improvements in history have been forged since March 2020 and babies could be thrown out with bathwater in deluges if reversed, consciously or inadvertently, without due diligence.

So, what’s to be done?

A fully inclusive co-creation of the optimal way forward is vital.  The intelligence and nuances of better discoveries in the forced experimentation of adaptation over the past 20 months resides in your people – right now.  A broad-based two-way engagement with them is a must-do to delve into the vast learnings of the recent past, lest they be lost forever.  A proper systematic approach is essential for a crystal-clear blueprint for future fitness to emerge, unique to your business and circumstances, made conscious to all, measured to show gaps analyses with structured feedback loops to drive continuous innovation cycles, systems and procedure tweaks and accountability metrics.

That’s quite a mouthful, I know.  Forgive me.  It’s complicated.  But let me show you how to get it right in a straightforward manner.

Guy Martin is the founder & Managing Director of Blueprints: Which has enabled business leaders to drive measurable high-performance across 130 blue-chip organisations in 36 countries