The primary objective of a series of dialogues led by the global #NewWork team was to provide personnel with opportunities to envision the ‘Next Normal’ at the UN. The ‘Reimagine the Next Normal Dialogues’ aimed to facilitate the exchange of ideas across the UN, driving organizational culture change from the bottom up.  

The initiative was recognized by the Career Development Roundtable (CDR)1 held in Milan in December 2021 with an award in the Staff Engagement category. The award acknowledges the successes and milestones #NewWork has achieved in uniting staff, breaking down silos, and working towards organizational culture change. 

Empowering staff voices creates ripple effects, inviting more active participation to co-create the vision for the ‘Culture of the Next Normal that We Want’ and to support the journey to “UN 2.0” as laid out in Our Common Agenda.  

Inspired by the Reimagine the UN Together Dialogues and the UNHQ Next Normal Dialogues, the Reimagine the Next Normal Dialogues focused on four themes related to our post-pandemic workplace culture: 

  • Agile Teams which encourages all teams to cultivate an agile mindset to be more adaptive and versatile.
  • Digital Literacy & Tools which promotes knowledge on technology and ongoing digital transformation to help personnel feel at ease with innovative tools and develop digital literacy.
  • Hybrid Teams which highlights the importance for organizations to help staff and managers develop skills and competencies to better adapt to hybrid work settings.
  • Increasing Innovation which underlines the essentiality of sprouting new ideas through participation in innovation-related events and programmes.

The dialogues brought together more than 180 colleagues from 52 duty stations. Over 25 volunteers from the field, Bangkok, New York, and Geneva, moderated 26 sessions held (as at date of publication). Broad diversity in each session was achieved through the use of a ‘randomising’ tool developed by a colleague in peacekeeping.  

Not only does the dialogue mechanism offer a safe space for the global exchange of ideas, it also makes possible the sharing of feedback and insights with senior management, human resources, and other fora, helping to ensure staff voices are heard and valued.  

A previous round of dialogues that focused on planning and preparing for the ‘Next Normal’ at UNHQ produced a series of ideas in 12 workstreams, which fed directly into a report on recommendations for the Next Normal that went to the Secretary-General.  

A number of these staff ideas have been endorsed for implementation, including institutionalizing the dialogue mechanism itself. This will ensure the Organization offers an ongoing way for staff to contribute more directly to transformation and changes proposed in the future. 

While the ‘Next Normal’ dialogues captured staff voices and creative ideas, it also unveiled the information asymmetry within the organization. Today, many staff are unaware of existing guides and resources that are available to support them through times of transition.  

Ensuring everyone has access to consistent information is a critical pillar as we move toward the ‘Next Normal’. Furthermore, by equipping all staff with the tools they need and focusing on inclusion, we build stronger relationships and bolster trust.  

#NewWork will continue to harness the power of collective intelligence to address challenges and develop an agile, innovative and inclusive workplace culture.