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Whether it’s Coronavirus lockdown restrictions or negotiating a second wave of infections, there’s one question on the minds of business leaders. What’s next for the future of my organization?
It’s a big question and one that has many different answers, depending on who you ask and what industry they’re in. But something all leaders have in common is their concern for the future of their business and workforce. Many are asking how they should prepare, what measures they need to take and how to apply that in a multinational setting if necessary.
Yet with 48% of people planning to continue working from home even after the pandemic is over and 47% of companies saying they’re unprepared to address the disruption, businesses are failing to notice an important reality. This is not about post-Coronavirus preparation; the future of work is already here. So, the question is: what are you doing now to construct a new way of working for your people?
modeling the future of your workforce
We know that Coronavirus has increased the pace of workplace transformation and that business leaders no longer have a choice other than to manage that change. The problem is that many don’t know where to begin. Most companies don’t know enough about the work their employees do, so they don’t know how much untapped productivity there may be in their workforce and what impact the work environment may have.
The work itself is fundamentally changing as businesses adapt to their new reality. Meanwhile, organizations are dealing with more silos than ever as a result of enforced remote working and innovation, communication and engagement are suffering.
So, what can be done about this? The first step must be to understand the workforce in detail. The latest technologies can track organizational workflow in entirely new ways. Understanding the overall workforce structure is a starting point but then separating those activities that can be performed remotely from those that are better done in-person is a good next step to a more thorough analysis of the work.
By having more data and viewing your workforce through different lenses, you can model how redesigning roles or restructuring business units would affect costs and outcomes before you commit to any changes. And importantly, you can use that insight to plan ahead, basing your strategic planning process on real-time information to ensure people are in the right place at the right time to deliver the right work.
preserving innovation and collaboration in the future of work
It goes without saying that a return to traditional office working is an unrealistic prospect. Research clearly suggests that people prefer the flexibility that working from home offers and that working remotely over an extended period of time often results in a higher productivity rate per worker. This is because they’re less distracted at home compared to the office and they have more time on their hands now they don’t need to commute. And on the whole, people are taking fewer sick days.
But is it all worth it if less innovation and collaboration is the trade-off for higher productivity? When thinking about the workplace of the future, it’s vital that business leaders change the way they view office space. It’s not just the practicalities of making it fit for purpose, it’s thinking holistically about the workforce, enabling people to collaborate effectively in a hybrid work environment.
Being able to quickly see in detail the skills base of the workforce allows leaders to assess current organizational capability to meet business needs. What used to be considered key skills for specific roles may now not be. Data can highlight where there are competency gaps, so development plans can be drawn up and their effectiveness monitored.
That’s what the brightest business leaders of today are already doing – understanding where and what work needs to be done and how to upskill people to perform at their best in these very trying times. It’s this planning that will allow people to come together in a new era of work.
planning for a future that’s already here
This continuous analysis and planning is crucial if organizations are going to adapt to constant change in the future of work and offer a post-pandemic value proposition to employees that keeps them motivated and delivering for the business.
Ultimately, the onus is on business leaders to decide on a new way of working and to do so quickly. Those who don’t fully understand their organizational data won’t be able to grasp their future with confidence; instead, they’ll be clutching at straws with one hand tied behind their back. Tomorrow belongs to those leaders who are ready and willing to embrace the future of work that’s here today. They’re already looking at their organization through different lenses to work out which options offer the best advantage for their business and their people and are making decisions based on genuine insight. How long before others follow?
Discover why supporting employees in hybrid work environments is critical for productivity and profitability in the future of work.
learn how HR can lead the post-pandemic reset
Ken Ferguson, CRO, talks about the impact of the ‘remote revolution’ and how to plan your post-pandemic organization.