My dream for the workplace is that there will come a time when people know how to express their whole and true selves at work and are supported in doing so by the organisational system and culture within which they work.

In my last blog I explored the BIGness of this dream from the individuals’ perspective highlighting the commitment, self-discovery, mind-set shift and skill-sets needed by all of us to express our whole self at work. My last blog was essentially about personal evolution.

In today’s blog I want to explore the BIGness of my dream from the organisational perspective because the organisation is the container within which people grow and transform and, as such, its evolution is needed as much as the evolution of its people. So really today’s blog is about workplace evolution, acknowledging that it is the workforce who consciously or unconsciously co-create with the workplace to shape its future.

A paradigm shift

Through my business I consult, coach, facilitate and train within a diverse range of organisations and my observations as I work are the inspiration underpinning my dream for the workplace. Because what I see is organisations tapping into only a fraction of the true potential of their workforce and the workforce tapping into only a fraction of their creative potential in shaping the future of their workplace. I also see the consequences of existing ways of working in terms of employee wellbeing, engagement and happiness. Usually these consequences are not inspiring or sustainable.

And I’m not alone in my observations. People in business are recognising the call for change and are asking what they can do about it.

I would answer their question with two words…paradigm shift.

These might seem like a grand two words to use. Bear with me on this as I say more about why we need a paradigm shift at work. I have a philosophy, shared by a few eminent thinkers, that the essence of each of us, when we get in touch with the truth inside, is that we are love. So it follows that if we know how to get in touch with that truth inside and are then supported in expressing it at work, we are taking love to work.

Now I think most of you will agree that taking love to work is BIG.

BIG enough to be called a paradigm shift…a paradigm shift which offers an opportunity for the workplace to nurture and embed qualities like trust, respect, openness, connection, collaboration, service, clarity, alignment, vitality and community.

BIG because taking love to work impacts all aspects of organisational life… the foundations on which the business is built, its purpose, its role in the community and society, how it measures success, the source and utilisation of its profits, the way people relate to and communicate with each other at work and how they make decisions.

BIG because ultimately taking love to work will transform the workplace. That’s what love does. It transforms.

I know I run a risk here of being judged non-commercial or an idealist. I’m prepared to run that risk because I believe that love as a foundation in our organisations is the way forward and, perhaps counter-intuitively, also the most sustainably commercial stance an organisation can adopt.

And if the word ‘love’ feels too much of a leap, it might help to remember that love has many expressions and the workplace expression of love has different facets to the family/friends expression. The workplace expression of love might show up in the trusting and respectful way people interact, the devoted way they approach their work and their clients, their enjoyment, their commitment and their engagement. Or it might show up in the work environment…the care with which a room is arranged or decorated. All these things are manifestations of a workplace of love. You can feel it, see it and hear it.

Pioneers of workplace evolution

An extension of my dream is the emergence of workplace evolution pioneers…leaders who are committed to creating environments of trust, collaboration and service at work where people are supported in being their whole self. These pioneers are needed to lead the way into and through the paradigm shift. These pioneers want to consciously shape their environment rather than allow it to be shaped by unconscious and old paradigm fears, patterns and beliefs.

They might work in well-established, traditional, and/or complex organisations where barriers to change seem high. They might work in start-ups with the opportunity to create sustainable strong foundations from the out-set. Or they might be leaders of teams where people are struggling to connect with each other and reach their potential as a team.

Are you one of these pioneers?

If you are one of these pioneers, whatever the size, age or readiness for change of your workplace, some of the questions below might interest you. Why not gather a few like-minded pioneers together at work and discuss. (If you are a team leader focusing on change within your team as a start point, you might want to replace the word ‘workplace’ in the questions below, with ‘team’.)

  • What’s your dream for the future of your workplace? Have you voiced it and shared it with others?
  • Why does your workplace exist? What’s its intention and purpose?
  • Do people in the business know the purpose of your workplace, connect to it, embody it and express from it?
  • What does love mean in the context of your workplace? How would you know that people were relating to each other and to their work from a place of love? What would be different to now? (If the word love doesn’t resonate, what word would resonate which has the same essential qualities?)
  • What do you think will happen if your workplace started operating from a foundation of love? What do you think will happen if it doesn’t?
  • What do you think will happen if your workplace encouraged people to be them-selves at work? What do you think will happen if it doesn’t?
  • How do people who come into contact with your workplace (for example employees, customers, suppliers) currently feel? What’s their overall experience of your business? What would they say if you asked them?
  • What experience do you want for all who interact with your workplace? How do you want people to feel working with/for you?

To wrap up

The world is changing at a phenomenal rate right now and whilst some change is happening in the workplace such as virtual/global teams, flexible/part-time/mobile/freelance workers, varied physical workspaces, technologically savvy youngsters offering new skills and perspectives, I don’t think enough change is happening…change of a foundational nature…paradigm shift type change.

And this moment in time offers unprecedented opportunities for organisations to do things differently, to wield their significant power for the greater good, to create new perspectives, to loosen and collapse ingrained beliefs about the way things have to be, to shift organisational purpose and identity and build stronger more sustainable foundations. This will inevitably involve a whole raft of organisational development activities (new structures, systems and processes) together with the mind-set and skills development needed to support people in their journey to wholeness at work.

Are you up for the challenge?