I beg to differ, Mr Elon Musk!
The Way We Work Post-Pandemic
Recently Tesla’s Founder and CEO, and the richest man in the world, Elon Musk sent an ultimatum to his staff: To return to the office or get out! In some industries, there’s sympathy with the felt need for in-person connection and face-to-face collaboration again. I can see it in the upswing in corporate bookings I am getting for off-site conferences and team building. Some employees are meeting at these events for the first time in person, having started with the company several years ago.
I’m also slightly loose on my definition of ‘post pandemic’. I’m writing this blog Covid positive in my cottage in the Blue Mountains in Australia. Aside from a running nose, I am asymptomatic. However, it feels to me that our understanding of ‘post pandemic’ is largely pegged to covid regulations rather than the virus itself. It continues to adapt and thrive. It’s time we did the same. You can follow my Covid Diaries vlog @spiritedbydani.
Now back to Musk! It was the language that he used when addressing the issue and his senior employees that has raised some big questions. Whilst Musk’s plan for world domination is slowly coming to fruition, there’s no doubt that he too has hardened to the task. As one of the most progressive thought-leaders the planet has, and ridiculously wealthy, there is no doubt that Elon Musk is an apex influencer. So, when he expresses himself publicly through words like the following, we should pay attention.
“Moreover, the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo office. If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”
‘Remote pseudo office’…A clear downgrading of the work-from-home set-up. Yet all industries and workforces are voting for hybrid and greater work from home options. The reality is that the pandemic has shown us what’s possible and offered some significant cost reductions on office space leases. We have seen the rise of online collaborative and communication platforms and spaces and they’re working!
I joined Crane Club (a shared workspace membership) here in Singapore back in 2019. Since then, I have used the snazzy vibey workspace for filming, photoshoots, podcast recording, events and meetings. It’s a fantastic community, aligned with my style and offering, and gorgeous spaces. Nothing pseudo nor remote about it.
And some of the biggest players are investing much greater amounts into employee wellbeing and extra ‘true’ leave time.
‘Assume you have resigned’…not exactly world-class HR management there! Are we seeing a new side to Elon Musk? Slightly more draconian, and dare I say it…conservative?
“The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” Musk wrote.
‘Senior visibility’…this feels decidedly archaic to me. The Pandemic has also made many of us take a new look at leadership. The days of Senior Visibility are over. We are in the age of Wisdom Accessibility. As we navigated our businesses online over the last few years, the softer assets within the company became much more valuable: knowledge share, mentors, personalities, and stories.
And this new work world has also put a spotlight on two key things that have always been, but are now essential to post-pandemic success: the quality of your people and the quality of your culture & comms.
A remote team works best when it’s crystal clear what each team member brings to the table, and everyone takes personal responsibility for what they bring to the table. They’re good at what they do and don’t need to be micromanaged. Everyone is on program and working to exceed it. Everyone likes each other and communications are enabled, easy, courteous and fun.
Issuing an ultimatum shows the level of Musk’s exasperation with the impact on his labour force, but it also shows that he doesn’t trust them to get on with their jobs. Two other metric switches that the pandemic has raised in importance for post-pandemic survival, are the switches from hard work to smart work; from hours to outputs.
In recent weeks, Musk has praised Tesla’s China employees for “burning the 3 am oil” while saying that Americans are “trying to avoid going to work at all.”
Elon, really? Praising the 1980s & 90s hustle culture, especially from your Chinese contingent who have undergone the most devastating impact of the pandemic and endured the longest and harshest lockdowns on the planet. And are you equating ‘work for home’ to ‘avoiding going to work at all’? This attachment to the office has to be examined. It’s no longer as relevant as we thought. The ‘office’ will never be the same again.
The thing is, that in a much, much, much, smaller way, I am also finding my way in the post-pandemic realm. My small but vibrant and growing business emerged into 2022, a vastly different offering to its 2019 pre-pandemic version. With group gatherings, retreats and talks suspended, I turned all of my attention to online content and connections.
It was a massive learning curve, however, I found the right people to work with. We are all enabled on collaborative platforms and we all like each other! I have gathered a small but brilliant team of five enablers around me, and we all work remotely, mainly because of locations. I had to get used to investing in these relationships, but it has created so much additional value that it has been worth it. Since 2020 I have commercialised and integrated my website, published a beautiful portfolio of guided meditation tracks and instrumentals on InsightTimer and Spotify, released four fabulous remixed lounge tracks and started my podcast The Modern Crone, which is now recording its third season. And I also published a book. Content. Content. Content.
Marie Nadal Sharma of Them you & Me, website and integration, is based in Melbourne and we have never met in person.
Luana Suciu is my visual artist, based in Sweden. We haven’t met in person in nearly three years.
Sam Joole, an amazing musician and sound genius, is based in Sydney. Sam and I get together once or twice a year for a few days to record live and get creative, but the majority of our creations are made and published remotely.
Jan Young, from Expat Consulting, is now based in the UK – bookkeeping, tax, company structure and LoC.
Kym Sng is my only Singapore-based team member. Kym manages the marketing and social media side. As I’m an early bird, and Kym kicks into gear after dinner, and I don’t have a fixed office address, we work remotely. We haven’t met in person since Kym came on board two months ago.
This little network of pros has adapted my business towards content generation and IP, and they continue to keep it adapting. And yes we’d all love to get together and meet in person, and that’s more because we like each other and feel like we’re building something together, which we are.
The reality is, that my little business also emerged from the pandemic having undergone some major shifts.
My client base switched from 90% Singapore-based, 10% global, to 20% Singapore-based, 80% global. I am just as busy with my remote private sessions as I am with the in-person sessions in Singapore. The membership communities in my two signature courses Shape Shifting and Intuitive Healing are definitely global, as are the participants in my online meditation drop-ins and online psychic development circles.
Yet in my line of work, there is enormous power in physical presence, and face-to-face connection…to be seen and to see others and to engage in group practice and ritual. The retreats, groups and circles are important and beautiful. And nearly all of the corporate workshops and talks I am booked for are in-person offsites in Singapore.
I need a hybrid model and some thinking on how to keep engagement with me and with my offering, easy, enjoyable, inspiring, valuable, meaningful and magnetic…for all students, clients and collaborators, wherever they are based.
I have so many exciting ideas, more tracks, new courses, next book and (hopefully) more travel….it is clear that my priority has to be online community engagement. That’s where I’m upgrading next and I have a team who will get me there, remotely.
So, Mr Elon Musk, I beg to differ. I think the same principles that work for my little outfit, are also relevant for global giants such as yourself. The days of micro-management, regimented hours, hustling and ultimatums have well and truly come to an end. And the talent market is so fluid now, also because it’s global and online, if your culture is blazing, you’ll attract the best out there. I think this is a much more positive perspective than ‘if you don’t show up I’ll assume you have resigned…’ Just saying…
If you are looking to join groups, retreats or circles with like-spirited people, do get in touch or go to www.daniellevandevelde.com for current offerings. You can also explore courses and useful content on the website to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living. If you would like to explore more about a spirited life, my book ‘Spirited – A guide to your innate spiritual design to transform your life’, is now available. See stockists here.
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