Workplace dynamics are changing quickly everywhere with the increased use of technology and changing expectations of employers and employees. Nowhere has this been more evident than in Christchurch in a post-earthquake environment.
The earthquakes forced an acceleration of changes in workforce and workplace dynamics through necessity which will be locked into the city and the region’s future. For example, there was an increase in flexibility in the workplace. The change in the working environment for many of us necessitated flexibility as did the importance of our families’ welfare in a tumultuous post-earthquake environment. Although this has its challenges in some employment situations, generally it provides a better working environment, increased productivity and a better employer/employee relationship.
We have also seen a rapid increase in employees operating in empowering environments. The emphasis on outcomes rather than on prescriptive work agendas has been accelerated post-earthquake. In my opinion it is the responsibility of every good employer to create a partial vacuum of opportunity around all of the employees to reduce boundaries and to create news spaces in which employees can migrate and realise their real potential.
Another area of rapid change has been the reinforcement of the trend towards open plan. Work spaces post-earthquake many companies were forced to work in temporary and sub-optimal worksites which more often than not involved crowded working conditions and employees working, whether they liked it or not, in an open plan environment. A consequence of that is that most of the employers and employees who were forced to work in an open plan environment now find that a preferable and more efficient way to work.
It was very clear in Christchurch that after the tumultuous events of September 2010 and February 2011 people learned how to work better together. We have seen across a wide range of Canterbury companies much better collaborative endeavours with employees stepping outside their specified areas of activity to work on whatever it takes to achieve better outcomes for themselves and for their companies.
In addition to collaborating internally we have seen a much greater emphasis on employees and employers working together across sectors especially where companies were thrown together by necessity in a post-earthquake environment. Working with each other delivers extremely positive outcomes compared to the entrenched silo mentalities of the past. For five years many of us have led a day to day nomadic existence. Now that we are moving back into rebuilt, permanent office space it is very interesting to note how employees right across the corporate spectrum are thinking more strategically. New Zealanders are not good strategic thinkers and this is a very healthy trend that we are seeing unfolding in the context of the regeneration of our city.
Finally, from an employment perspective it is most encouraging to see how more and more employees in Christchurch are recognising and appreciating the independencies not only across the city but between the city and the wider region. In the day’s post-earthquake all of us in the city realised just how dependent we were on the wealth creators right across our region and how that activity helped to support us through the dark days of 2010/2011. That understanding is now engrained in our workforce and our corporate sector very much to the betterment of our city and our region. We are working better together and we need to.