READ the August 2021 issue of our magazine: The Rise of Work Tech
The workplace of the future will most definitely be defined by technology. With technology underpinning the drive towards a distributed workforce, everything from work culture, ways of collaboration, engagement, and even problem solving will change the way agile organizations operate. While many consider the pandemic as a watershed moment in human history, it is important to note that technology enabling transformation is not a new concept.
Old concept, new approach
From an organization’s perspective, human resources have been using analytics for some time now - often called people analytics, to manage the workforce through data-driven decision making. Companies have been using digital products and services to attract the right talent, connect with remote employees across client locations, integrate employee data and automate processes. The only difference is that it has taken a novel coronavirus to call attention to the true potential of digital HR.
Building operational resilience
Last year, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown highlighted the importance of business continuity and how organizations must take control of the important aspects of their businesses. Organizations with a Business Continuity Plan in place seemed to be less disrupted and were able to scale up their infrastructure and adapt to the rapidly changing working environment when faced with challenges. As we move into 2021, organizations must focus on building a business resiliency plan, equipping their remote workers efficiently, and identifying challenges quickly to take corrective measures in time. Companies must realign their policies to catch up to the changing scenarios, whether in terms of business, employee well-being, introducing additional paid leaves, or revamping existing health allowance to help deal with the situation and recuperate better.
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As norms continue to evolve and businesses develop new working models, organizations will require new systems, processes, and roles to enable the digital landscape. A holistic approach to such digital enablement will involve a full-bodied digital workspace platform, introducing virtual onboarding, providing seamless access to applications and data, providing modern device management capabilities, addressing connectivity challenges and much more.
To ensure productivity and optimal performance, organizations will have to support flexible user choices to deliver exceptional employee experience like never before.
Data analytics strategy and compliance
HR data analytics will possibly be the most critical aspect of managing human resources in the future. Companies will need to equip themselves with the right set of analysts, a strong strategy to use available data and insights to make well informed decisions and provide a robust data infrastructure to find success in this new model. Investing in such capabilities will give organizations the visibility to understand the needs of their employees better.
For instance, with the help of data analytics, organizations can help provide any special accommodations their employees might need to work efficiently, positively impacting productivity and driving business growth.
Creating value in learning on the go
Companies will have to get creative and explore alternative digital learning strategies to build an agile, skilled workforce. Leaders will need to continue enabling and delivering on capability building by introducing new formats of learning, like delivering L&D programs in short byte sized modules, pre-recorded sessions, replacing in-person programs with virtual classrooms, and breaking down virtual live learning into smaller programs for effective adoption.
Increased people interactions
Ironically, one of the positive outcomes of the pandemic has been the increase in personal interactions. With travelling restricted, leaders, management and employees have been able to virtually participate and familiarize with each other, regardless of their location, position, or experience. Whether it is connecting with a senior leader in a townhall, participating in a team building fun activity, brainstorming through a virtual meeting, or introducing your pet to your team members, virtual platforms have helped build and subsequently develop a deep socio emotional connection that might have not been as effective in a pre-pandemic era.
Replacing location-dependent operations
Unlike earlier, where companies would have a remote work consultant working out of client location, the workplace of the future might be a more flexible and viable option, with consultants working virtually in the new normal. With virtual accessibility to information, multiple communication channels and deliverable driven approach, companies can redefine and enable remote work successfully.
Addressing security challenges
Organizations must ensure that their IT and security teams have access to the best of resources and tools to deploy a security model beyond the corporate network to support both company and personal devices. With growing adoption of remote working, the attack surface has widened exponentially, which can mean more complex phishing attacks and security threats from criminals looking for a new target. Companies will need to enforce appropriate policies and monitor compliance subject to regulatory requirements to prevent data breach and loss of revenue.
Attracting right talent
A distributed workforce presents significant opportunities for employers to tap into a favourable talent pool that seemed far fetched before. With accessibility and geography a possibility now, companies can consider recruiting people from diverse backgrounds, experiences, ethnicity and foster a culture of innovation, with the right skill sets for the role. Embracing such an approach can also help employers bring in innovative ideas, address talent gaps, any form of unconscious bias and also reduce costs attached to travel and office structure.
Leveraging gig economy
With organizations moving to hybrid models of working and becoming more flexible, the gig economy is set to expand and grow exponentially. To become intrinsically agile, organizations must have flexible working hours, offer special benefits, health coverage, automate processes and leverage efficient platforms to reinvent rules and policies around new ways of working. We might have great potential in the next decade to lead a global gig economy as the numbers of freelancers, consultants and affordable labour continues to grow.
Performance and experience management
When employee experiences are meaningful and fulfilling, it helps the workforce to be more efficient, productive and inspires a sense of culture and greater collaboration. Addressing employee grievances must be a critical aspect for organizations to retain talent and holistically bring important changes across the organization. Employee experience is no longer just an HR’s responsibility and can significantly impact business outcomes for leaders who are making the right boardroom decisions now, laying the foundation for the next era.
The pivot to a new work culture is an opportunity for organizations to bolster their workplace flexibility options and revisit their technology investments, while making the necessary changes in their IT budgets. Modern workplaces will also need to focus on cybersecurity on priority and relook at digitizing their operational processes. Priorities for HR managers will include addressing the increase in remote and hybrid workers while implementing the right practices to ensure employee satisfaction, wellness, and productivity. The key is to understand employee needs through constant engagement, feedback, conversations on managerial levels, better interpersonal communication and driving a sense of belonging and call to action.