C-Suite Insights 19th February 2021

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Research highlights potential risks of mixed-mode remote working

News World Express

NB: The earlier edition of this e-mail had incorrect links, these have now been replaced)

Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University, has been conducting extensive research into home-working, both before and during the pandemic.

The research shows that employees and employers have found the transition to homeworking to be easier than expected, and employees think being able to work from home two or three days a week is as valuable as a pay rise of 8%.

However, the US based study, based on findings from 22,500 respondents, has some warnings about the potential downsides of a mixed-mode approach to remote working. 

He warns of a potential ‘discrimination crisis’ if workers are allowed to work at home as often as they please because they may be forgotten and overlooked for promotion, while office workers develop more ‘managerial capital’ by having social interaction with each other and their bosses.

He advises that organisations should not let staff freely decide how many days they can work at home, but that they should intervene and take an active part in ensuring work patterns enhance team cohesion and visibility.

The original research can be accessed here.

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The group dynamics that define well-functioning boards


All boards should invest time and attention in nurturing group dynamics as an integral part of their work instead of merely addressing it when the board composition changes, e.g. when onboarding new directors.

Boards can use the following approaches to improve their dynamic:

  • Check in and check out: Try opening meetings by touching base emotionally instead of getting straight to business.
  • Experiment with different informal roles: If it is decided, for example, that the role of devil’s advocate is absolutely necessary, it may be a good idea to designate a different director to play it at every meeting, so that the same person does not feel obligated to take it on all the time.
  • Seek professional development for directors: Executive education programmes that incorporate soft skills (leadership, emotional intelligence, group dynamics) alongside technical competencies are particularly valuable.
  • Make the most of board assessments: Rather than a box-ticking exercise, the assessment can be an ideal occasion for directors to provide feedback about one another and the group dynamic on the board. The best vehicle for this would be confidential, one-on-one interviews with a neutral third party, followed by a board-level discussion of the assessment results.

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How agile transformation can power frontline excellence

McKinsey & Company

An agile transformation can release the full potential of frontline staff, leading to happier employees and lower costs. It should be guided by a set of comprehensive and consistent design choices about strategy, structure, people, processes, and technology, all aligned around the aspiration to create an improved customer experience.

In addition, a frontline agile transformation is iterative and grows through testing, learning, and refinement - not everything can be planned.


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