The University of Southampton conducted an interesting study named ‘Work After Lockdown’ on the impact of remote work on both employers and employees. 90 per cent of those surveyed were sure that productivity remained the same or improved as they worked from home, or remotely. Another study by the International Labour Organisation showed that global output per hour of work improved by 4.9 per cent in 2020, as compared to the average annual rate of 2.4 per cent between 2005 and 2019. Many other studies seem to indicate that remote work did result in significant performance and productivity gains.
I firmly believe in what I call the ‘productivity anywhere, performance everywhere’ mantra. As the world moves distinctly and rapidly towards hybrid work models and distributed workforces, as leaders, we need to address two relevant questions. One, what is next for performance and productivity to create a reimagined growth mindset? And second, how can the C-suite of leaders provide the impetus for an equitable work experience that balances bold envisioning and smart management of risks and challenges?
A move to collaborative workforce structures
The era of remote work has unfolded multidimensional facets of performance and productivity. Today, we have the advantage of being an extremely well-connected workforce, with a wide array of communication and collaboration tools to boost productivity – from ubiquitous email to sophisticated video conferencing, virtual meeting rooms, smartphone technologies, and many more.
This frees the office from its traditional role as a physical destination of work, where performance is nurtured for high efficiency and productivity. It can now become a collaborative space for innovation, creativity, celebration and building winning cultures – all of which are critical components in the performance and productivity equation. In such an environment, employees feel fired up, and experience freedom and flexibility to efficiently manage their time and work while being provided with continuous feedback. Netflix cracked this code much earlier. Measuring productivity by outcomes and not inputs, they have thrived without specifying the extent of ‘presenteeism’ in the office.
- Collaborative workforce structures embed the following into their work culture and practices:
- Easy access to the right resources to enable high performance and productivity
- High trust, through policies and procedures that build confidence
- Closer leadership connects
- Digital fluency for all employees
Collective C-suite ownership for next-gen productivity and performance
While the buck for raising the organization’s performance ultimately stops at the desk of the CEO, I firmly believe that the CEO is not alone in this endeavor. High-performing organizations clearly understand the difference between accountability and ownership. While the CEO stands up to take accountability, his CXO team steps up equally to take collective ownership for the organisation’s success.
A research report shows that 63 percent of high growth organisations had implemented ‘productivity anywhere’ models. Such a happy state of high growth amidst the pandemic challenges can only happen when all CXOs come together behind the CEO. In such a scenario,
- The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) creates re-imagined performance models and decentralised and flexible work practices that nurture innovation for growth. CHROs build strong organisational capabilities, hyper-personalised work environments and future-ready skills in all employees. This infuses a sense of inclusion, belonging, common purpose, social cohesion and shared identity amongst in-office and remote employees. Such a unified culture will motivate them to excel and be happy and engaged at work while boosting productivity.
- The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) takes ownership in making the right investments in infrastructure and ultra-modern technology so that their hybrid workforce has the right resources and virtual collaboration tools to outperform.
- The Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) and Head Of Sales (HOS) play pivotal roles in building organisational cultures more closely aligned with market forces, thereby optimising commercial power in the organisation and its brand. Elements, when properly integrated, can drive business growth and market share growth.
- The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) ensures that the right investments are made on time to accelerate high performance and productivity. CFOs are the linking pins and collaborate closely with the other CXOs to strategize for high returns on investment for the organisation.
- The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is the stakeholder champion who creates and manages the brand strategy to achieve sustained and profitable growth. They stand as the stewards of morale and culture that prepares the organisation for greater glory in terms of performance and productivity, by nurturing passionate and committed brand champions.
A recent study showed that before COVID-19 hit, only 35 percent of the CXO team felt responsible for their employees’ holistic needs. Six months into the pandemic, this had jumped to 50 per cent. In the future of work, productivity and performance will hinge on one critical question. How can organisations unleash employee potential to help them perform to their maximum, irrespective of where they work? This question can only be answered by a unified CXO handshake.
A great opportunity lies ahead to imprint a brand-new signature of unstoppable performance and productivity in a virtual world of work. Achieving success in the ‘productivity anywhere, performance everywhere’ effort calls for a path-breaking cultural shift to promote well-being, flexibility, collaboration, and innovation through skilling. Our people need to feel confident of thriving anywhere, and we, as leaders, need to design work around our people, develop their digital fluency, infuse them with grit and resilience, and build an ecosystem of continuous experimentation and improvement.