This is probably one of the first questions when we meet someone for the first time.

I expect that the questioner isn’t that interested in “where I work,” (second desk on the left by the window) but who do I work for and what do I do?

However, in recent times, the question has taken on a new significance, for those fortunate enough to have a job.

Organisations have trialed “working from home” pilots over several years, yet in the space of a month, the shift was made, and before we knew it, the workplace was transformed.

In recent weeks the conversation about where we work has surfaced with many different perspectives shared. Working from home has so many benefits. No more time-consuming commute. Home for the parcel delivery. Add to this the savings on office accommodation costs and it seems like a no brainer.

Let’s continue to work from home.

However, before we make a decision, may I offer a few questions?

A Question for Leaders

A study by Katz and Khan in 1978 concluded that environmental scanning is an important activity – institutions survive if they are externally aware and internally adaptive. This task lies in the mandate of the leadership.

As leaders we listen to people, our customers and suppliers. Then we decide how we will deliver our purpose, which includes the place we carry out our business.

A Question of Purpose

Now is a good time to ask, why do we exist as an organisation? What do we do? What is our purpose?

It is easy to get caught up in producing endless outputs (reports, statistics etc.) and we can lose sight of the outcome we are there to deliver.

Does our purpose help us decide, where we work?

A Question of Culture

Why does culture matter? The studies of Warmer Burke and George Litwin in 1992 suggested that organisations are shaped by Leadership, Purpose and Culture. Other issues such as structure, systems and practices whilst needful, were transactional in nature.

The question of culture is not “how do we create a happy place?”, but rather “what type of culture do we need to deliver our purpose?”

The development of a purposeful culture is far more challenging with a dispersed workforce but not impossible. For example, where does a new team member report to on their first day? How do they learn about the cultural expectations of the organisation?

A Question of Governance & Compliance

Finally, one further question to consider. In recent times we have needed to make quicker decisions. The external environment dictated that we needed to act fast.

In doing so we have introduced an unintended consequential risk. Are the decisions we have made the right one? Have all of the issues including those of social responsibility and social justice been considered?

This is a question particularly for Board members to consider, who are ultimately accountable.

The decision about where we work is dependent upon your context.

I suggest we need to be ;
– Intentional. To lead on purpose.
– Intelligent. Using all of the data available to make informed choices.

I am interested in what you think.

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