Seven takeaways from the DWG Decade of Courage Manifesto Season 2

January 12, 2022 Updated: April 5, 2022 by

The workplace has changed. The pandemic rapidly elevated remote and distributed working to a scale and level of importance few had previously envisaged. Meanwhile, millions of employees are also thinking more deeply about the way they want their world of work to be and vocalizing this. All of this presents an opportunity to change work for the better; meaning not just short- or medium-term measures to see us through the pandemic, but also longer-term, deeper change that may impact the way we work for decades. 

In 2021, Paul Miller, DWG’s CEO and Founder, wrote the Decade of Courage Manifesto, a 12-point action plan for essential workplace transformation for the coming years, inspired by the new wave of thinking precipitated by the onset of the pandemic. The report was called ‘Decade of Courage’ because courage is exactly what is required to put its ideas into action. Now, in TV boxset fashion, Season 2 of Decade of Courage has arrived, with a brand-new free report to download. Season 2 features seven more action points for the new workplace, and while more reflective than its predecessor, the new Manifesto still demands ‘courage’ in engaging with its ideas. Each of the action points comes with some explanatory text from Paul, as well as proposing related questions for leaders and digital workplace teams to ask themselves. 

In this post, we’re going to explore seven takeaways from the new report – one from each action point. 

1. Drive hybrid leadership

‘Hybrid’ is a word we will be hearing very frequently during 2022; it’s not just a term that can be applied to working patterns, but also to leadership. In the new Decade of Courage, we need leaders to provide direction and be aligned to the new reality of work for millions of employees. 

In the report, Paul outlines some of the qualities required of new hybrid leaders. These include the ability to be present in and visible through digital channels; to be far more authentic and vulnerable; and to be more rapid and agile in a fast-moving, volatile world. He outlines some leaders who have inspired him, including Pamela Maynard, the first black female CEO of Avanade, who has provided exceptional leadership during the pandemic.  

2. Take the best of the old and the new

Advances in the digital workplace offer fresh and exciting possibilities to rethink our working patterns – and the pandemic is proving to be a catalyst to break from the past. During the pandemic, many of us experienced working remotely for a prolonged period and some found this liberating, experiencing higher productivity, an improved life-balance and even getting to know our work colleagues better. Understandably, some want to maintain the positive aspects of this experience, even after the pandemic has receded, preferring not to return to office life and the daily commute.

However, it’s all too easy to forget the many positive aspects of working face-to-face and coming together in an office setting with colleagues. In the report, Paul explores the idea of ‘Stockholm Workplace Syndrome’, where some of us may have fallen in love with the time we were forced to work from home. He argues that employers who take a considered and balanced view of working practices during the pandemic, retaining those that offer benefits while also keeping what was good before the pandemic, will craft a better way of working for the future.

3. Enrich digital and physical workspaces

Over the years, DWG has advocated for far better digital workplaces that are hyper-personalized around the needs of every individual. The same argument can be applied to physical workplaces. As the future of work looks increasingly hybrid, it is becoming apparent that we need to continue to invest in both the digital and physical workplace, creating hyper-personalized experiences across both environments and ensuring that employees can effortlessly work across them.  

In the Season 2 Manifesto, Paul stresses the importance of enriching physical environments, as hybrid working patterns will mean that the time we spend face to face will become even more valuable. He argues for taking a ‘hyper-personal, hyper-digital’ stance, where we enrich the value of physical meetings and co-working while also ensuring that digital workplaces evolve, with both worlds in alignment and influencing each other. 

4. Reflect on loss during the pandemic

The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for all of us. The report argues that employees and companies have all experienced some degree of grief or loss, and that this should be aired and shared across organizations. Paul believes that this process is: “essential if new waves of creativity and innovation are to flow”.  

He cites some of his own personal experiences of the pandemic and also one from DWG, where a process of listening and adapting has helped to develop a new shared resilience and spirit; this pattern has been seen across many other organizations too. By marking what has been lost, it can help make space for creativity and renewal, allowing everything to move forward. The report suggests some useful questions to ask here, including considering the most fitting way for people to share their stories of loss across the organization. 

5. Embrace the localization of work

A major impact of the pandemic has been a dramatic reduction in business travel – not just internationally, but also everyday commuting. This has had huge benefits not only in ensuring business continuity through lockdown conditions, but also in reducing our collective carbon footprint and helping employees to avoid long, unnecessary hours; there are very few people who actually miss the daily commute! 

In the report, Paul suggests that work culture and practices have become more ‘local’, helping us to realize that the near-crazy patterns relating to work travel prior to the pandemic were simply not sustainable. Consequently, the perspectives of employees about work (and non-work) are becoming more local too. The question is whether companies will evolve to meet this new localization of work and grasp the opportunities it provides around factors such as employee experience, recruitment and environmental impact, while also ensuring that employees remain fully connected. 

6. Use the metaphors of nature

In early 2021, Paul Miller and his co-author Shimrit Janes, launched Nature of Work, a thought-provoking book that seeks to tell a new story of work for a ‘living age’, drawing on inspiration, stories and language from the world of nature. The book has been very well-received, and for one of the action points in Season 2 of the Manifesto, Paul revisits some core Nature of Work messages. 

Paul argues that nature and work can merge once organizations realize that they are alive and begin to behave as living systems rather than machines. By using key concepts from nature, such as ‘habitats’, ‘regeneration’ and ‘roots’, managers and leaders can better imagine, discuss and explore new ways of working. This can also lead organizations to focus on broader elements of working life which are very important, including employee experience, wellbeing, innovation and even business continuity – and to approach all of these with fresh ideas and new thinking. 

7. Take inspiration and be influenced by younger generations

Over the years, there has been a lot of focus on younger generations in the workplace, including the ways in which they use digital and social tools, and the relative influence this is having on the wider digital workplace. In the final action point of the Season 2 Manifesto, Paul suggests we should indeed recognize that younger employees are driving more radical and systemic change in the workplace, and that we should leverage and embrace their thinking. 

Younger generations are influencing everything from companies needing to follow more ethical approaches, to adopting more flexible working practices, particularly in the light of the large numbers of younger employees voluntarily leaving their current roles. Another area on which companies may focus is defining their sense of purpose beyond just generating shareholder value, really getting to the ‘heart and soul’ of why the organization exists.  

Decade of Courage Manifesto Season 2 front cover

Season 2 of DWG’s Decade of Courage Manifesto is now available for free download! 

Categorised in: Digital workplace

Steve Bynghall

Steve Bynghall is a freelance consultant, researcher and writer specializing in the digital workplace, intranets, knowledge management, collaboration and other digital themes. He is DWG’s Research and Knowledge Lead, a benchmark evaluator and research analyst for DWG.

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