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From Crisis to Momentum: Rethinking the Future of Work


Over the course of 2020, one thing has remained constant: change. COVID-19 transformed the world as we know it at an unprecedented rate. And as the year went on, it became more and more clear that there is no going back to normal. There is only going forward…into a very different world of work.

Leaders went from focusing first and foremost on the health and safety of their people, to quickly speeding up their digital transformation plans to support employees working from anywhere. It was a complex challenge that demanded careful thought and planning, but it lacked long-term thinking. What does the future employee experience look like? What do organizations need to do to recruit and retain top talent? What changes need to be made to culture and values to reflect new business models?

For many, these seismic shifts have not yet been addressed. Things like team structures, policies, workflows, processes, culture, leadership, and just about every aspect of the work experience might remain a question mark. But as the pace of change accelerates, leaders can’t afford to delay thinking about these impacts – they need to plan for what’s next, now.

In short, we need to continue to rethink the future of work and how organizations will need to change.

So how do you balance the need to ensure your employees are safe and productive and your business is secure while planning for the future? We have identified four external drivers that we believe will continue to transform the world of work in 2021 and beyond.


In August 2019, the Business Roundtable made a stunning turnaround when the CEOs of America’s largest businesses acknowledged that all stakeholders – workers, communities, partners – were as valuable as their investor shareholders. And with the #1 driver of reputation among consumers right now being how organizations are taking care of their employees,1 the companies that followed suit are certainly seeing the benefits now. Take Microsoft for example. They are continuing to pay all vendor hourly service providers their regular pay during this period of reduced service needs.3


Customer spending and behaviors are changing rapidly with increases in some areas like groceries and massive decreases in other areas. 65% of consumers are currently postponing purchases and travel, and 52% intend for changes to their buying behaviors to continue.1 This means that companies need to go from putting the consumer first to becoming consumer obsessed, to meet them where they are and where they will be in the future.


From siloed roles to a flexible workforce. From ability to adaptability. From a culture of knowing to a culture of learning. From what you do to why you do it. Every organization is going to need to realign capabilities, mindsets and their cultures to the new world.


The connection between purpose and action has become very real during this crisis. Companies who are taking actions to ensure they are walking the talk and leading with purpose will be remembered, and those who don’t will likely suffer consequences. Airbnb is an example of a company who connected their purpose of belonging and connection both in rethinking their business model and in how CEO Brian Chesky treated the employees who were let go. He led with transparency, empathy and compassion, stating: “We have looked across severance, equity, healthcare and job support and done our best to treat everyone in a compassionate and thoughtful way.”4

The implications and weight that these drivers carry are already having an enormous impact on organizations, and things will never be the same. Based on this, we developed five areas that will help you to go from jumping from crisis to crisis, to creating forward momentum.

For more details, listen to our mini-webinar series on the topics here. This is just the start of the conversation. Watch this space for more information as we continue to unpack the future of work in 2021. In the meantime, reach out…we are here to help.

1 “COVID-19 Mindset: How Pandemic Times are Shaping Global Consumers”, Fleishman Hillard:

2 Woodward, Aylin. “The COVID-19 pandemic could last for 2 years, according to US experts.” World Economic Forum,

3 Hyder, Shama. “Coronavirus Champions: A Running List of Brands Getting it Right.” Forbes,

4 Kelly, Jack. “Airbnb Lays off 25% of its Employees: CEO Brian Chesky Gives a Master Class in Empathy and Compassion.” Forbes,

Michelle is the Managing Partner & President of Daggerwing Group, as well as a member of Daggerwing’s Executive Leadership Team. In her role, Michelle leads all global client relationships and delivery of Daggerwing’s consulting services to ensure change is done right the first time, and sticks. She also ensures that Daggerwing’s consulting leaders are effectively driving career growth for our consultants, continuously building capability and experience. Michelle’s breadth of expertise in the people side of change includes facilitating Executive Alignment on every type of organizational transformation, orchestrating enterprise-level culture shifts to deliver on a CEO’s strategy, and helping clients custom-create and bring to life their Future of Work strategies. Michelle is passionate about creating leaders and employees who are energized, rather than exhausted, by the opportunities change creates – ultimately helping clients succeed by fostering a culture that delivers the desired experience for customers and enables employees to thrive. In her private time, Michelle enjoys singing 70s pop songs badly while playing her ukulele, buying musty old records, and spending tons of time in the woods and on snowy mountains.
Chris Thornton is a Senior Principal and member of the global leadership team at Daggerwing Group. In his role, Chris serves as a source of strategic counsel for Senior Executives with client firms, advising them on how to help clients achieve Executive alignment, transform their cultures and equip and enable people managers to lead and embed change. An expert in the people side of change with both client-side and consulting experience, Chris has worked with leading companies including Nestlé, Pfizer, and GE Aviation to do change right and make it stick. He is also an active speaker on business transformation, a driver of innovation in Daggerwing’s breadth of change consulting services, and the host of Daggerwing Group’s podcast, Change@Work. Chris and his wife were featured in the New York Times for their love of pie.