Dependency or agency…

Where will the present workshift go from here? Back to the office or are you not leaving the house, to “go to work” again! In one of our interviews back in January, a seasoned commuter described how dressing for the office and heading upstairs just did not cut it. Their transition to work required that they needed to find some way to simulate their commute. Their solution, they walk to work. They get ready, head out the door and then round the block before arriving back home “ready” for the work day to begin. This simple innovation enabled them to transition from the rest of life to their work life with greater ease. Any of us could adopt such a simple habit. We perhaps cannot build a garden annex office or do anymore to increase available internet bandwidth, but we each have choices. 

Especially if you work for a bigger organisation there may be an expectation that the business should sort out the mess and confusion of working from home (WFH). Depending on the sector you are in and how developed the HR function is in your workplace, it may have been normal that HR would lead on bringing clarity where there was employee confusion or certainty where uncertainty was growing. That leadership acuity is required today, unquestionably, but we know from our research that a further vital component, employee agency, is also required to balance out any potential sense of staff dependency. Following Transactional Analysis thinking what we need in our workplaces is adult-adult interactions that safeguard the agency of the individual and the organisation. Some structures have more resource capacity to make the transitions easy for their people.

Another interviewee from earlier in the year, living in shared accommodation in an urban context, working in the arts sectors, told us about the contrast in experience between themselves and their “corporate” sector flat mate. They were sent home and told to work away with the same laptop that should have been replaced several years prior. Their flatmate in contrast, was given a budget and told to got and get set-up “at home” as if they were in the office. Irrespective of financial resource or the environmental factors that do require attention and acknowledgement, agency has no price tag. We can all choose to make the best of the circumstances we find ourselves in. To be the best version of ourselves.

Our diagnostic tool, helps individuals understand their work location preferences and helps organisations understand the spread of their people and what might be effectively explored to fine tune performance; so that when your people are blending between the office, home or anywhere in between they are setup to be optimistic, productive and engaged. The solutions are most likely already available to you, but our working from home index helps baseline your present starting point and offers insights that build between where your people find themselves now and how you want them to be, at work, regardless of location. A failure to develop individual agency is more likely to lead to dependency behaviours rather than the kind of interdependence that is a mark of healthy “adult” relationships. Good luck as you navigate the emerging pathway for your business. If you are interested in how AERMiD might help you baseline your workforce and resource how you show up to this workshift moment, then please drop us an email or pick up the phone: or +447956964433.

Summary Findings

Earlier this year we completed a piece of quantitative research around our experiences of Working From Home (WFH). This research was informed by a series of qualitative interviews that were conducted in January 2021. The media have been actively re-presenting WFH, or return to the office, stories as we have approached and passed the anniversary of national lockdown, here in the UK, in March this year. David Solomon has infamously defined WFH as an “aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible”. Around 80% of respondents to our research see a different future. Read more of our summary findings here.

In contrast to WFH naysayers there is also a range of other voices who offer more balanced comment on what may be new ways of working that are more compatible with shifting values and new leadership thinking. If you have not already done so, it would be worth making time to check out and return to the evolving perspectives of Julia Hobsbawm and Bruce Daisley.

Balancing Life and Work Life

Zoom calls, home-schooling and PE with Joe Wicks – all hallmarks of daily life since the SARS-CoV-2 virus swept its way around the globe. With a shift towards long-term working from home we wanted to know how things had changed since those early days of the Coronavirus pandemic, what employers could reasonably do to help their employees and, crucially, what employees themselves could do to adapt to sustained periods of working from home.

Read more…