The Renewal of Work

Rethinking the Future of Work

July 27, 2022

As the global pandemic continues to evolve, leaders are struggling to find their footing in the so-called “Future of Work.” The challenge has been to engage employees in a workplace that is dramatically different from the pre-pandemic experience, with new expectations from employees and ongoing debates about flexibility, productivity and performance. Many organizations’ Return to Work initiatives have stalled.

What is the role of the communication professional in this standoff? At ROI, we believe communicators can reshape the conversation about the Future of Work, which is stuck on questions such as “How do we get back to where we were before?” or “What will entice employees back into the office?” We think there’s another way.

We’re calling it the Renewal of Work.

As we see it, the workplace needs to be transformed into a place where everyone — executives, managers and employees — can meaningfully contribute, live joyful and healthy lives both inside and outside of work, and reach new performance heights in a sustainable way.

How can communication professionals drive this critical renewal of the workplace? Use the Renewal of Work tools below to help shake the organization loose from Return to Work gridlock.

The Renewal of Work — A Vision Test

Could your organization benefit from a new lens on the Return to Work landscape? See where your organization currently sits on the spectrum by considering what you hear most from leaders and employees.

Return to Work

“How do we get back to where we were before?”

“What will entice employees back into the office?”

“How many days a week are we required to work in the office?”

“We expect employees to be in the office X days per week.”

“Everyone did great working from home, but we’re better in person.”

“Our company policy is ­_________”

“Can I relocate?”

“Why doesn’t our CEO understand?”

“Why do I have to be in the office if most of my team works elsewhere?”

Renewal of Work

“How have customer expectations shifted during the pandemic?”

“What type of culture is needed to delight the customer in today’s environment?”

“What enables high performance here?”

“What aspects of community and collaboration are needed for us to succeed?”

“How must we lead differently?”

“What is the best use of our physical space?”

“How can we honor the unique productivity needs and work preferences of employees?”

“Why do top performers choose to work at our company — what makes our workplace unique?”

The Renewal of Work — An Action Plan

Is your organization trapped in the Future of Work gridlock? Consider this action plan to help your leaders move forward.

Examine core beliefs

What this means 
Explore and question core assumptions about what works at work. What drives high performance and innovation? How essential is community and collaboration to our success? What aspects of our culture need to stay the same or change?

What communication professionals can do
Facilitate a discussion with the executive team to uncover and challenge fundamental beliefs about flexibility, collaboration and performance for your unique business.

Strive for agreement on a short list of core beliefs, which can drive future decisions and messaging on workplace processes and policies.

Exercise humility

What this means 
Don’t presume to know what employees need, especially after the challenges of the last two years. It’s time to get curious and seek to walk in their shoes before making any decisions about new workplace processes and policies.

What communication professionals can do
Set up listening sessions, pulses, roundtable sessions and more — whatever you can do to break through assumptions and ensure that you and your leaders truly understand employee sentiment.

You do you

What this means 
Avoid the temptation to follow the latest trends; instead, design a Renewal of Work strategy that fits with your unique vision, business strategy, culture and customer and talent needs.

What communication professionals can do
Make sure you’re attuned to current customer and employee needs and challenges. Then given your business strategy, culture and priorities, craft a workplace strategy that will enable everyone — the business, employees and customers — to get what they need for a sustainable relationship.

See this as a big experiment

What this means 
The pandemic has changed everything. Be willing to re-evaluate what is important to the company, customers and employees, and don’t assume that everything from the “before-times” — whether it’s your culture, employee value proposition, leadership styles, work flexibility policies or communication channels — is still relevant today.

What communication professionals can do
Refresh your message platform to set the tone that, going forward, a spirit of experimentation will be essential. Instead of talking about the New Normal or the Return to Work, which implies a fixed future state, set the expectation that workplace processes and policies will continue to evolve over time. In the meantime, avoid absolutes in communications (e.g., “You can work from home forever!” or “We’ll all be back at work by the end of quarter this summer”).

The Renewal of Work — A Worksheet

How do you transform your organization into a place where everyone can meaningfully contribute, live joyful and healthy lives both inside and outside of work, and reach new performance heights in a sustainable way? Transformation takes place when we start asking different questions. Get your communication and HR partners together to reflect on the following questions and kickstart a Renewal of Work at your company.

Where to turn for help

Know that ROI is here to help you take on the Renewal of Work in your organization. Here are just a few examples of how we can support you:

  • Change enablement plan
  • Culture audits
  • Renewal of Work communication strategy and message development
  • Executive coaching and communication support
  • Manager briefings and toolkits
  • Listening strategy and dashboards
  • Employee Value Proposition
  • Refreshed onboarding programs
  • Communication ecosystem strategy and implementation


Lesli Gee ROI Internal Communication Agency Employee.
Lesli Gee

Executive Vice President

A founding member of ROI, Lesli is an expert at change management and HR comms expert with more than two decades helping executives design and execute large-scale change initiatives to strengthen organizational culture, streamline processes and improve performance. A 27-time marathon runner and charity fundraiser, she has helped numerous Fortune 500 companies achieve their business goals.

Catherine Forman ROI Internal Communication Agency Employee.
Catherine Forman

Vice President

With a deep expertise in change management and employee engagement, Catherine helps manage largescale, complex strategic projects for our clients. As an avid rock climber, Catherine approaches her work as she does her climbing - always with an eye on the next move. Her expertise has made her a valuable contributor to ROI since 2003.