Editor's note: Follow Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good on LinkedIn, where this article first appeared. LinkedIn members can read, like, share and comment on Good's posts.
One way I stay connected to our employees is to participate in various virtual employee meetings and townhalls. In almost every instance, someone will ask what the “new normal” will be once the pandemic recedes. It’s a great question – and it’s one that many companies are grappling with right now.
The past 15 months have forced us to adapt like never before, and that experience will have a significant impact on how we work moving forward. Many companies – including Duke Energy – had to use new tools, processes and approaches, and the lessons learned from those experiences are helping us re-imagine how we work.
We’ve shown that we can operate effectively through remote work, meeting the needs of customers while providing our workforce more flexibility. But I believe there is incredible value in maintaining a physical workplace. We can easily forget the benefits of working side by side with colleagues. It plays an important role in spurring innovation and collaboration, and preserving a company’s culture and helping new employees onboard.
So, we are focusing on creating a hybrid model that brings employees back to the office while retaining the flexibility of working remotely as well. That’s not something I would have considered before the pandemic – but the terrific way our employees responded has given us confidence to make this shift.
However, as we address how and where we work, I believe it is just as important that we address our mindset.
Hybrid work and other innovations will only succeed if we view change and disruption as an opportunity, not a challenge to avoid. It needs to be part of our operating DNA – because the pace will only accelerate in the years ahead. There will be resistance from some, and as employers, we have to help our people see the power in accepting new ideas, encouraging diverse opinions and having a willingness to use new technologies or processes.
But to sustain this mindset, leaders must also adjust how they engage their employees. The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted how the past year has changed employees, and leaders should take note. Beyond modeling the right behavior, they’ll need to show that they’re ready to adapt as well, especially since many will manage a hybrid workforce for the first time. Importantly, leaders will need to be even more intentional about fostering collaboration, being inclusive and driving employee engagement.
So, as I’ve told employees, change is never easy, but we need to fully embrace it because it’s going to happen. Let’s encourage a mindset of innovation, creativity and inclusiveness since that’s what it’s going to take to be successful in the post-pandemic world.