Transformation and the Future of Work

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The Future of Work has arrived. How are organisations and government departments adapting to transform their workforce for the future?

People will create jobs of the future not simply train for them and technology is already central, it would undoubtedly play a greater role in the years ahead – Jonathan Grudin (Principal Researcher Microsoft)

We are currently going through the Fourth Industrial Revolution which will see more than 1million jobs transform – almost one-third of all jobs worldwide. The World Economic forum has also projected that technological transformation will create 133 million new jobs by 2022 The future of work has arrived. Recent events have redefined efficiency, productivity and organisational growth and, the requirement to work remotely has become a de-facto requirement for more than 45% of  the UK workforce. In response to this, organisations are adapting to transform their workforce for the future.  Particularly for Government departments this means embracing a way of working long resisted.

Transformation is triggered by many factors but, the workforce is at the centre of change by either driving, accepting, rejecting or ignoring attempts by the organisation to embed new ways of working. Transformation, be it within the business or digital space does not happen in isolation, a combination of factors is required to trigger and sustain change.

The COVID pandemic has created a sense of urgency that has shifted the inertia to change within many organisations. Business leaders can harness this momentum by communicating the strategy and vision throughout the organisation and empowering its workforce to take charge and own some of those decisions at programme or team level to deliver transformational changes within the organisation.

The future of work will be shaped by 4 key transformation challenges:

  • Leadership
  • People
  • Delivery
  • Organisation

Leadership

It starts with leadership; establishing a clear vision and a compelling change story, guiding the team and addressing areas of disconnect and questions of uncertainty. A strong leadership should embody the change they advocate through demonstrating firm commitment to the change vision and developing a multi-layered approach of establishing sub-cohorts in all areas of the business.

Employees will need strong leadership and must be able to see visible change in front of them to give them the confidence to deliver those much-needed quick wins and maintain the momentum and hunger for transformation.

To successfully deliver transformation, organisations must provide opportunities to innovate and experiment by giving staff the support and autonomy to create new work practises within a conducive environment…  : “Badgering your people is a recipe for resentful, low-performing employees.” Going forward, we will need to change the way we manage productivity by placing a greater emphasis on actual output and less focus on presenteeism.

Trust placed on employees is critical.  Leading with a vision which avoids a foundation of scepticism and doubt as to the level of work undertaken will enable far greater transformation.

Remote teams can feel the difference. According to Hubstaff, 65% of workers report that they feel more productive when not in the office.  This supports a completely different future of work, where, for example, a UK Government department now has more staff because of COVID than their physical office structure (which is in the process of being reduced) can accommodate.  An evaluation of productivity can lead to a focus on ‘Best Colleague Experience’ not ‘how to make sure your staff are working’. With continued physical distance from their colleagues, executives need to find ways to connect employees with the wider organisation by communicating regularly.

People

How organisations perform is increasingly defined by the engagement of the workforce and the workplace culture. People are an integral part in driving transformation and need to be actively engaged or risk rejecting or ignoring attempts by the organisation to embed new ways of working. This includes future of work, establishing new ways of working and ensuring these processes are understood by the business.

Businesses must equip their employees to effectively work from home as this becomes a long-term expectation. Teams that can be creative and collaborate effectively online will thrive. As such, it is more crucial than ever that businesses adopt a digital culture at all levels of the organisation.

In the absence of serendipitous water cooler moments, employees need to be equipped with the right skills for virtual collaboration and make the most of “chat” tools and virtual whiteboards. This will ensure that teams become more productive and innovative and, will have the skills required to adapt to change in the future.

Delivery

Organisations that thrive in this new world will be flexible and have the capability to continue to enable multi-speed delivery. To maintain productivity, organisations must adopt creative and innovative ways of working that support agility and the ability to make decisions quickly especially in the current climate.

Furthermore, the future of work will be characterised by three core features:

  1. The workplace is no longer limited to physical office spaces and has transitioned into the cloud which can be accessed anywhere, and over multiple devices Employees have the flexibility to choose where they work and how long they work gone are the days where it is believed that employees can only be productive in a structured work environment.
  2. The workforce is also evolving with heavy reliance now on technology, organisations will be forced to review their existing workforce skills and look at opportunities for reskilling or upskilling. Organisations will have to adopt new ways of thinking and innovation by encouraging skill development which goes beyond blanket training programmes and provides skills-based learning to its employees.
  3. Technology has revolutionised the way we execute tasks, organisations are being forced to revaluate their business model, strategy and ways of working, organisations must break out of hierarchical processes and be disruptive in order to stay relevant. Examples – Digital and contactless payment, on demand streaming and the use of bots to answer business queries. Digital transformation must take priority in the overall business strategy as quick adoption to fast moving technology would be critical in securing organisational productivity and efficiencies. Technology will be at the heart of these transformations and new ways of working. As Jim Swanson, EVP and Group CIO at Johnson & Johnson, says, “Technology was critical to us before this crisis, but it has taken a quantum leap in criticality for the future

Organisation

In order to thrive, it is increasingly important that organisations are agile in their operational structure; in such a way that enables autonomy to its people and, allows decisions to be made quickly.

Capabilities such as AI, robotics and big data are key and, should play a part in providing the required insights to help with decision making. Indeed, Capgemini is at the heart of AI and Robotics-based innovation at several UK Government Departments (such as at the Environment Agency).  Alongside this, processes which utilise customer behaviour data should be interconnected across the organisation to help respond faster to evolving external factors.

To transition to an organisation of the future, the workforce will be at the forefront in transformative organisations as they will require new skills and upskilling to operate. Organisations must commit to helping its employees thrive at work by creating an inclusive and trusting environment for its employees.

To stay ahead of the curve, incorporate a people-focused, technology-enabled strategy with a clear value proposition for your workforce, that creates a culture that encourages employee autonomy and a disruptive mindset.

 

 

Authors


Lola Akinkugbe Richard Grant

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