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Hybrid working: organisational development
Hybrid working: organisational development

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2 Operating in uncertain times

During the pandemic organisations’ ability to manage uncertainty became critical. Many had to make decisions and implement complicated changes, including digital transformation at an accelerated pace, to pivot most of the workforce to remote working during lockdowns.

The video below provides some insights from contributors about their experiencing of adapting ways of working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The impact of the pandemic on mental health, inequalities for certain groups in society, the economy and infrastructure are key areas organisations now need to focus on, alongside sustainability and how they can contribute to targets linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (UN SDGs) (UN, 2022) and reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, workforce practices were evolving in response to organisational trends in the late-twentieth century.

If you research ‘trends for organisations’ online, you will see a consistent focus on:

  • changing workforce and expectations
  • authenticity, resilience, and purposeful business
  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • flatter, more agile organisations
  • sustainability, including climate change, net zero targets and global economic instability
  • digital transformation, sometimes referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and effective use of data (Baker, 2021; Marr, 2021; Kropp and McRae, 2022).

Activity 2: Thinking about your HEI’s experience of dealing with uncertainty

Timing: 15 minutes

During the pandemic HEIs that had limited or no distance learning provision had to rapidly adapt their delivery models, alongside ensuring those who could work from home did, to ensure continuity of learning for their students.

Consider how your HEI and you as an individual deal with uncertainty. You may wish to make notes in the box below:

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Your experiences will vary, depending on how your organisation responded to COVID-19, and on your personal circumstances. While there is often a focus on the negatives, many positives have emerged as a result for new ways of working.

Take some time to research trends within the higher education sector and consider how organisations may need to adapt for the future, and the opportunities that could emerge.

You may wish to explore the following resources to help with your thinking. The Student Crowd page provides a snapshot of how UK universities adapted their modes of teaching in response to COVID-19 restrictions.

Then consider the impact of hybrid working for the wider community on:

  • the economy and business
  • towns and city centres
  • issues affecting the workforce, and skills
  • health (physical and mental) and wellbeing – see Remote Working: Implications for Wales (linked below)
  • inequalities between different groups and different parts of Wales (including those areas with poor connectivity)
  • the environment
  • the transport network and infrastructure.

You may wish to access the full report:

Remote Working: Implications for Wales

Based on your research and that we are operating with uncertainty, do you agree with the following quote?

‘Universities are well-placed to collaborate with partners across Wales to support our nation’s recovery from the pandemic and build Wales’ future together.’

Add your vote to the poll below.

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