2021 is an opportunity for purposeful change

Sheila Fain, CEO, LaMarsh GlobalSheila Fain, CEO
If 2020 was a year of unexpected change, then 2021 can be an opportunity for purposeful change.

LaMarsh Global supports organizations as they prepare for and undergo change. Most of our projects involve changes that are deliberate and planned, but there are many situations – such as regulatory changes and crises – where the change was a surprise.

No matter if it was planned or not, the journey of change can be simplified to two destinations: you can return to the way things were before, or you can move to a new state.

There is a clear desire within some organizations to return to the patterns that were familiar before 2020. While many companies are embracing the new ways of working, other organizations are prepared to return to on-site work as soon as it is safe. There is optimism and hope for 2021, but the return to previous work routines may not be as easy as expected.

If there was any benefit from 2020, it’s that we witnessed (and were involved with) the largest workplace experiment in history. In a matter of days, companies and employees around the world transitioned to alternative working practices.

We learned that people can work just as well at home or work. For some, working virtually improves their productivity because they have fewer distractions, shorter commutes and extra flexibility in their schedule.
Many teams and companies have successfully transitioned to alternative styles of work without sacrificing performance, and there is a recognition that work can be effectively completed without the physical presence of managers.

Now that companies and employees learned new technologies and work habits, some organizations will struggle to return to old routines. Some people are in their element at home, and others may have a valid case for working at home. And many companies simply don’t have a valid case for working in person..

Many of the changes we experienced this last year were unplanned and essential. Organizations were forced to rely on new technologies and employees had to readjust their entire routines at home and work. New habits and patterns have emerged, and it is likely the aspects that worked well will remain. It simply doesn’t make sense to return to old routines when new ways of working can be more efficient, effective or more pleasant.

We also witnessed a shift in leadership style. Perhaps it was the result of new technology, adjusted workplace habits or from the shared experiences of a global pandemic, but a more relaxed and authentic leadership style has emerged. Both leaders and employees are embracing this shift, and it is unlikely behaviors will slip back when life returns to “normal.”

There were many lessons learned in 2020. For many organizations, the shift to virtual work was an achievement that shouldn’t be underestimated. As we prepare for 2021, let’s take what we learned in 2020 and continue to improve through purposeful change.

If anything, we learned that we could prevail through change.

LaMarsh Global has been a leader in change management since 1979. We bridge change management theory with the challenges that businesses face today. Change is an opportunity to improve performance and enable success, and change management will make it easier to change.