The Problem:

Every organisation has a “Purpose”. It’s right there on the wall in the CEO’s office and at reception, next to the Vision, Mission and Values. It took Marketing a few days to come up with it, and a consultancy charged you a fortune to wordsmith it into the perfect encapsulation of why your company needs to exist and what you contribute to the world. You know what? You might even believe it.

But most of your staff don’t. At least, not in the way you wish they would.

The Solution:

Even if your company is genuinely making a meaningful difference in the world on a day by day basis, the people who work for you are naturally more concerned about what is happening in their own lives, with their friends and family and at home, than what they do at work. They know the truth: if they were to disappear from work, you’d start the process of replacing them within a few days, and have done so by the end of the month. But if they disappeared from home, they’d be missed forever, and leave a gaping hole that could never be filled.

This has always been true, but Covid Lockdown has shown a giant spotlight onto our lives and the choices we’ve made. And now is a perfect opportunity to help your people do more than just find “work-life balance“, and more than mere “work-life integration“. You have the opportunity to help them connect their life’s purpose with your organisational purpose, and build an engaged workforce like you’ve never experienced before.

This nine minute video will get you thinking about this issue the right way: 


As more and more people realise that hybrid virtual remote teams are going to be the new normal, we’re focusing on working it out. How do you do that well and what does it take to build a healthy hybrid team? Our research and our own experience over 20 years and the experience of many different companies who have been working virtually for a long time indicates that there are five key areas to focus on. And in this video, I want to deal with the fifth area of purpose.

As you can see, it’s not at the same level as the other four. It’s actually a foundation and it kind of encompasses everything that we need to do if we don’t get the purpose issue right. If people don’t feel that their purpose is connected to what the company’s doing, well, then nothing else that you do will matter, especially with a younger generation. The younger people in the workplace have much more of a passion for getting purpose. Right?

But what is this purpose that I talk of? Because it isn’t the mission, vision, values, purpose thing that we do at our annual getaways. And that’s up on the wall in the reception area. That’s not what I’m talking about when I talk about purpose. Yes, of course, it would be wonderful if your company did have a purpose that was about changing the world. It would be wonderful if people felt that they were working for a business that was making a big difference to the planet, to humanity, to society.

That makes your life a lot easier. It makes it easier to attract and retain, again, especially younger people.

But that’s not the level that our model is looking at. I mean, it’s good if you’ve got that, but even if you’ve got that, people are much more concerned about their own purpose. I mean, we kid ourselves if we think that people get out of bed in the morning to come and fulfill their company’s purpose, what they’re really looking for is they are looking for a place that they can work that will help them to fulfill their own lifecycle, their own purpose, to live out their own values.

I’m not saying that every single person in your business is entirely selfish, but it’s about understanding human beings. It’s about psychology and sociology. People need to have a sense of their own purpose. Why do they want to do it in life? What is the type of life that they want to live? And if they can then find a place to work that will allow them to express that, to fulfill that, then that will be brilliant. And if their work is part of fulfilling their purpose, well, then they’re beginning to to start to live in an ideal type of world.

So, this issue of purpose and helping people find their purpose is not about aligning them more closely with your company’s purpose. It’s about thinking about what it is that gets each individual out of bed in the morning and how can we create an environment in which people can feel that they are fulfilling their life’s purpose?

Right now, I suppose, given that at the moment we’re dealing with the covid crisis, things are tough, things are difficult, maybe I can even just simplify this a little bit more. I believe that the covid disruption, which will be followed by technology disruptions and robotic automation and algorithms and software and, you know, all the fourth industrial revolution stuff, there’s going to be a lot of disruption in the workplace over the next few years. And I think all of those disruptions give us an opportunity to change the way we think about work.

And this is both from our individual perspective and also from the organisational perspective. We need to change the way we are thinking about our life and our work. This isn’t about work life balance. It isn’t even about work life integration. You see, I think what covid did for a lot of people is it showed them that they were actually organising their life around their work. What I mean by that is that most people choose where they live based on where they work.

So you’ve had to live in the same city as your work. You’ve had to live within a reasonable commute of your work as far as possible.

And otherwise you’ve got an hour or two, sometimes three hours in traffic every day. It’s ridiculous. And people have realized that you don’t have to do that. A lot of people have a lot more flexibility about where they live and work. And if we’re not needing to organise where we live based on where we work, well, then we might choose to live in very different places. Now, if you’ve chosen what house to live in, based on where you work, then you’ve probably chosen what school your kids go to based on your work as well, because that the school your kids go to is probably linked to where you live.

So where you work determines where your children go to school. That’s crazy.

Some of you looked in your cupboard like I did and realized during the covid lockdown there’s a whole lot of your clothes that you’re not wearing because as you look at them, you realise these are my work clothes, shoes, suits, clothes that you wouldn’t wear if you didn’t have to go into the office and dress up for work.

So even your clothes are organised around where you work. I mean, the list goes on and on. I think you get the point that I’m making. And if you understand the rest of our model, I know in this little video I’m only focusing on purpose. But if you understand the issues of mastery, if you understand the issues of autonomy, you’ll understand how this whole model focuses on this issue of giving people a sense of being able to organise their work around their lives.

Why shouldn’t somebody be able to do five to seven o’clock in the morning, right. To do a little bit of work for you? Maybe they can get three actual hours of work done in those two hours because at home they’re undisturbed at that time while everybody else is sleeping. Then they need a chunk of time to get the kids really there for school to get them settled into home, school, whatever. Then they can give you some work time.

Then they want to take a big chunk out at lunch time to go and do some shopping or to go out for a run or just to take a gap because it’s not their best time of working. Then they give you some more time in the evening. Why not? It’s not work life balance. It’s even more than work life integration.

It’s saying to your people, it’s saying to yourself, my life is the most important thing and work is an aspect of my life. And I will fulfill my life’s purpose when my life is making sense. Too often we come to work and we give our everything during the workday. We get home to the people that we love and care for the most and we’ve got nothing left to give. I think it’s even been worse during covid even though we’ve been staying at home.

I think we’ve had even less to give to the ones that we love. And think about it this way. If you just disappeared for whatever reason, your company would start replacing you within the week and they would have found a replacement probably within a month. But your family, your friends, the parts of your life that are really precious to you, well, you’d never be replaced with you. This is what I mean by purpose.

And my purpose is such an important component of what it takes to. To build healthy hybrid teams, we’ve got to get this aspect of purpose right, not purpose for our companies, but purpose for each of the individuals who work for us. That’s how we build healthy hybrid teams, or at least it’s the purpose component of the model that we’ve developed. If you would like more information about how to build healthy hybrid teams or the work that we do to tomorrow, today global, well, make sure that you contact me on the team and we’d be happy to chat to you more about it and help you to build what you’re going to need for the rest of the 2020.

This isn’t just about surviving covid. This is about setting yourself up for success in the rest of this decade and beyond.

It’s part of a series our team has put together on how to build healthy, hybrid teams. Let us know if you’d like more information on how to do this – we’d be happy to help.

Author of today’s tip, Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change.

For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.

TomorrowToday Global