The world of work was gearing up for disruption when COVID-19 struck and accelerated the move into the Future of Work. Two years later, this world looks like a mere shadow of its past. Digital transformation is now inevitable and the hybrid workplace is a certain reality.
The disruption is ongoing as organizations identify how to use new technologies and grow trade links. Along with this, the focus has also increased on the physical dimension of work. Old structures, temperaments, and value drivers are constantly evolving. With all these and more disruptors at work, both organizations, employees, and prospective employees need to organize and realign themselves for the future of work.
Here are a few ways in which we feel the world of work is changing and what it is moving towards:
The rise of the digital economy and the ongoing focus on digital transformation indelibly influences how work is done and value is created. As technologies such as IoT, AI, etc. become more mainstream, organizations leverage new technology, and the focus on automation increases, we shall be looking at new job roles and titles.
There is a growing skills gap that organizations need to navigate using reskilling and upskilling initiatives for their in-house employees. Those with the right technical skills will definitely be at an advantage and increase their employability. At the same time, there is a dominant focus on soft/critical skills.
Organizations are now looking at skills like agility, focus, resilience, empathy, a high EQ, attitude of continuous learning, critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving to power the new workplace. With the hybrid workplace becoming a mainstay, developing human skills and complementing these with technical skills will deliver transformational outcomes.
For employees, this means developing their innately human skills while keeping their technical acumen up-to-date
As trends like the Great Resignation take place, it allows the enterprise to evaluate systems that work and the ones that don’t. While high salaries have been an attraction, aspects such as career growth and transition, learning and development opportunities, equity, diversity and inclusion, and such human policies get into focus.
The pandemic has given all the opportunity to evaluate and identify what works for them and what doesn’t. Organizations know that to win the war for talent they have to be people-focused and people-driven.
As such, the new world of work will demand a greater symbiotic relationship between the organization and the employees where the onus of delivering enablement at work will rest with the organization, and driving transformational innovation will rest with the employees. For this to happen, organizations will have to listen closely to their employees’ needs, their productivity blockers, and their challenges (both personal and professional) and help them create pathways to assuage them.
Like everything in the enterprise, leadership styles also have to undergo an evolution to meet the needs of the new world of work. Servant leaders are deeply committed to solving people’s problems, enabling their teams to grow, and putting the needs of the team/employees ahead of theirs to make sure that the employees get all the resources they need to perform to the best of their ability. They do not hoard power; they share it.
Caring, which used to be an individual responsibility, has now moved towards the organization. The servant-leaders help increase the organization’s capacity to serve by examining organizational operations, the people operating within them, and the roadblocks.
Servant leadership becomes critical to the future of work as it contributes towards higher productivity and building a cohesive work culture. It encourages innovation and fosters long-lasting teams.
There will be an enormous focus on building trust and creating a cohesive organizational culture as we move into the hybrid work environment. Having the right technology investment is critical to this effort to make sure that virtual interactions mimic in-person interactions. We have to reorganize our efforts to create a more tech-driven and enabling business environment that allows people to build connections irrespective of location.
Along with this, organizations will have to develop the right processes, focus on clear communication, and leverage data to improve decision-making while increasing transparency. Both organizations and employees have to work towards creating greater transparency with clients by having a process that feeds into transparency – allocating a single point of contact, communication protocols, deadline management, proactive intimation, etc. will be critical to building trust with the client.
Team managers have to work towards enabling their teams with the right skills and attitudes and have to proactively help them identify growth opportunities. They have to demonstrate active investment in their team members and ensure that they prevent the emergence of two work cultures – one that the virtual employees follow and one that the on-premise employees follow. This can be done by focusing on building equity and leveraging data to drive decision-making.
Hybrid work is here to stay in the post-pandemic world. Reports show that almost 73% of the workforce now want flexibility in the work arrangements and 66% of decision-makers are considering or are in the process of redesigning existing physical spaces for hybrid work.
Organizations have to work towards enabling hybrid work policies to support employees and ensure that all employees get equal opportunities and technology both inside and outside the office. Identifying the ideal hybrid work model will be of paramount importance.
Building, managing, and engaging a remote workforce will have to occupy greater mind space and become a strategic priority. Developing mechanisms to bring about the right balance of community and social connection, identifying blind spots of remote work, creating compelling workspaces by providing more meaningful and enjoyable work, and building shared purpose will need to climb up the priority list.
The new world of work demands adopting new attitudes and ideas and also involves a certain amount of unlearning of ideas, thoughts, and existing structures that no longer serve the enterprise and the employees. Amalgamating technological innovations with human capital and their needs will become imperative to build organizational resilience, reduce risk, and drive better customer experiences for both internal and external customers.