DigiGallus - 40@40
New ways of working have arrived without warning, and they’ve arrived with no preparation. There’s no time to adapt, there’s just time to start
In 40@40 we reached out to 40 people and asked them one simple question: How has work changed for you since Covid-19? From this emerged a tapestry of stories revealing what life has been like for many of those continuing to work during the global pandemic.
You can look at the list of stories and people we talked to at the bottom of this page in our 40@40 stories by theme.
Here at Adam Smith Business School, we have sought to develop a rapid respond to Covid-19 to help students, staff and organisations of all types negotiate their way through these turbulent times. Through our commitment to the principles of responsible and sustainable management education (PRME – A UN initiative), we have created DigiGallus: a suite of resources, stories, initiatives and events that help us think about learning, leading and living during Covid-19 . 40@40 is part of our DigiGallus initiative, and a way of drawing on the expertise of our academics to collect stories and insights into work and organisational life.
40@40 highlights how rapid change can make fascinating things happen in organisations. It can make dysfunctions bubble up to the surface, or help organisations strip back to their core values to help them survive and even thrive during this period.
In exploring these dimensions, we identified 5 aspects that cut across sector, occupation, size, and type of business.
We might not all be together, but we are all in it together
There are a million more stories out there about people’s experience of work during these times, not to mention the important tales of those who are furloughed, made redundant and not in paid employment but still finding that their labour and lives has been turned upside down by Covid-19. However, what we hope is that 40@40 give us all a chance to pause, listen and connect with others who are similarly navigating work and non-work lives: a reminder that while we might not all be together, we are all in it together.
The digital revolution
The first was the centrality of embracing technological or virtual ways of working, which had affected everyone’s work to varying degrees. Even for those who were key workers and still in their place of work, the need for social distancing meant that utilising technologies and ways of working online had catapulted their organisations into the digital sphere. While for many they hoped that this transformation would be a legacy that would benefit the future workplace, others were very aware that there would need to be a curious retrofitting of culture and strategy into what had quickly become embedded digital practices. There was also an awareness that the ability to simply ‘go online’ is an uneven feast, and the digital divide was significant for those working across countries and across socioeconomic levels. Working - and living - digitally is not only about having a process to follow, it is also a privilege that cannot be assumed.
Teamworking and collaboration
Second, was teamworking Those who had moved to online teams, zoom or other digital platforms felt that the experience had intensified the usual team dynamics. It might mean that existing or emerging tensions could be made far worse, but also feelings of trust between team members could increase, given there was an intimacy of being ‘in’ colleagues’ homes when they spoke. There were a number of ways to negotiate online dynamics, from making sure meetings were structured – and timed- appropriately, to thinking about how collaboration might develop as time went on and new – rather than existing – projects and people where brought together purely in a virtual space. While difficult to articulate, there was a feeling that at some points, there was something about human to human contact that was impossible to define or capture in a virtual environment.
Health and wellbeing
Third was health and wellbeing. Without exception, people mentioned the mental health challenges that Covid-19 will bring, not just socially, but also due to the knock-on effects of having to work at home with either too much isolation for those living by themselves, or not enough isolation for those with families or in cramped houseshares. As time has went on, many are also starting to feel the physical stresses and strains of working on computers on sofas, kitchen tables, and worktops for more hours than usual. In many ways there was a tension between feeling that a work-life balance should be better by virtue of a lot of us being in the home, while in practice working longer hours.
Ethics and Sustainability
Fourth was ethics and sustainability. Contrary to some research findings that suggest crisis can trigger an absolution of organizational responsibility for people and resources, Covid-19 had brought about broader questions about these issues. Some of these were pragmatic, such as how to ensure best practice governance and protection for all stakeholders as the business goes virtual. Others were more reflective, considering how a global pandemic makes us think differently about the legacy we are leaving through our business travel and supply chains. It really highlights what underpins our own commitment to to ethics and responsible management here at the Business School – sustainability is not just about resources, but also about people and the way we work.
Finally, there was speculation about the future. This is unsurprising – at a very basic level, we are meaning making creatures and are compelled to make sense of what is happening to us and those around us. What was striking was the desire to take lessons from what has happened over the past 40 days and ensure they are embedded in broader organisational strategies – once we all have time to take a step back and survey the landscape, of course – although questions over when this point in time will come, if at all. While there was widespread agreement that this signalled a ‘new normal’, it was clear that what we are living though was anything but normal, making it challenging to imagine the next organisational, economic or social chapter.
40@40 STORIES BY THEME
We reached out to 40 people and asked them one simple question: How has work changed for you since Covid-19?
CEO and Founder, Organise
How do you mobilise in 'born digital' organisations during Covid-19?
Operations Manager, Wild Welfare
How is the digital divide affecting your organisation?
How has the work of religious leaders become more digital during Covid-19?
In what ways have you maintained your relationships with clients during Covid-19?
Innis and Gunn Operations Director
What logistical and operational challenges has your work faced during Covid-19?
Founder and Owner, Logistik21
What are the challenges for business networking during Covid-19?
Physiotherapist, Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow
How has training taken place since Covid-19?
Managing Director, Citi bank
In what way have you seen teamworking transform since Covid-19?
Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT)
How have meetings and working across teams changed?
Managing Director, NatWest Bank
How do you develop your staff during Covid-19?
Implementation Consultant, ADP
What challenges have you found working across teams?
Brand Coordinator, Belhaven Brewery
What is the new meetings etiquette as work moved online?
Trust and Foundations Manager, Erskine
What’s it like to start a new job during Lockdown?
Emergency Call Handler, Scottish Ambulance Service
How has social distancing changed your organisation’s culture?
Health and wellness
Principal Mechanical Engineer
What has working flexibly meant to you?
Finance Excellence Manager, L'Oreal
How is your company promoting work-life balance during Covid-19?
Executive Assistant, Cyber International
How have you managed your working hours during Lockdown?
Community Midwife, Glasgow
How has Covid-19 changed the experiences of community midwives?
Author and coach
As a small business, how have you adapted to the Covid-19 environment?
Founder & Creative Director, Scrumptious Productions
How have people's attitudes to work changed during Covid-19?
In what ways have GP’s adapted to working during Covid-19?
Ethics and sustainability
What are the concerns of youth activists during Covid-19?
CEO, Sistema Scotland
How have you negotiated governance and ethical practices when moving your business online?
Design Lab Host, Cohealth
How are organisations negotiating issues surrounding privacy while fulfilling their objectives?
Marketing Director D-CAT (Digital Content Analysis Technology Ltd)
How has Covid-19 made you reassess your organisation's carbon footprint?
Vice President, Scottish Beekeepers Association
How are beekeepers negotiating Covid-19?
Head of School, University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School
What have you learned about leadership during Covid-19?
Head of Sustainability and Reporting, ICAS (Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland)
How are Accounting professionals negotiating lockdown in the UK?
CEO, WES (Women’s Enterprise Scotland)
What role does lobbying have during Covid-19?
Director and Partner Emeritus, Gevity
In what ways is your organisation finding opportunities to contribute to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic?
Chief Executive, Celtic FC Foundation
How do you adapt your strategy during Covid-19 while maintaining your organisation's values?
Managing Director, The Leadership Factory
How has Covid-19 changed the way we might work together in the future?
How are occupations in the film and television industry affected by Covid-19?
Vice President of Wellness and Animal Behaviour, San Francisco Zoo
How has work at the zoo changed since Covid-19?
Managing Partner, Hanya Talent and Organisation Health
What leadership styles are emerging during Covid-19?
Head of Comms (Europe), Coca-Cola
What has your organisation learned during Covid-19?
Founder and Managing Director, BeYonder Ltd.
How have manufacturing firms innovated during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Student, University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School
How has Covid-19 shaped your learning experience?