Broadcaster and keynote speaker David Meade from County Down is returning to host a string of live events in the US. Here he looks at the hybrid mindset: leading a business through unprecedented change.
The Covid-19 pandemic reshaped workplaces the world over. Rarely does an issue emerge that presents the same challenge to businesses right across the globe, yet from Belfast to Dublin, New York to DC and right across the globe, companies are still finding their feet in the wake of the pandemic outbreak of March 2020.
Across the U.S., roughly six in ten workers whose jobs can be done remotely have continued to work from home either all or most of the time. Though initially a choice made to avoid exposure to the virus, research updated in February 2022 by the Pew Research Centre shows a shift in the reasons behind home working as employees make the choice to stay put out of preference.
For the minority that have chosen to resume their on-site working routine, they cite productivity, personal preference and a perceived rise in advancement opportunities as their reason for leaving remote working behind them. Whatever the decision, I have seen both in Belfast, in Europe and through my work in the U.S. that employee control over working arrangements will outlive the pandemic that initiated it.
Progressive business leaders do largely welcome this increase in personal choice, yet the hybrid mindset being here to stay nevertheless presents challenges for businesses right across the world as they attempt to manage office requirements, ensure sustained productivity, and promote a culture within their business without ever actually meeting some of their team.
This is a challenge I have grappled with in my own work. With a growing team of ten that travelled across the U.S. and Europe delivering corporate events for brands such as Apple, Harvard and Mercedes Benz, the scope of our work, and the environment in which we carried it out in was reduced to just our own homes.
While I dread to imagine the outcome had the pandemic struck ahead of recent advancements in connectivity, it is true that technology and Covid-19 worked together to make the world smaller, and my access to employees and business leaders in the U.S. was maintained.
I had the privilege of delivering virtual company engagement sessions to thousands of business leaders and company employees from the comfort of our live broadcasting studio, meaning I could connect with workforces across the country from our own base in Holywood, a County Down town on the east coast of Ireland.
The nature of our work changed too, progressing from keynote speaking into delivering virtual employee engagement sessions and weekly networking events for the likes of NECA, the National Electrical Contractors Association which represents the $171 billion electrical construction industry.
With an established career in analysing and engaging with people, it was clear throughout these sessions that human interaction, collaboration and engagement is the key to maintaining healthy and productive working relationships. Be it in person or online, collective action brings more power than singular, and people will always rely on others to really achieve success.
Maintaining this level of engagement is a challenge I see business leaders facing across all sectors in cities right across the world. As the hybrid mindset sets in for good, companies must find a new approach to promoting a positive and inclusive company culture, and that is a challenge that will follow them for years to come.
David Meade is a world-class international corporate keynote speaker, performer, and TV personality with a renowned reputation for helping organizations work more effectively.