The past year has fundamentally changed the way we work. It has encouraged us to re-imagine our workspace too—with community hubs accommodating a more hybrid workstyle. Just as digitisation is transforming our companies and we become more connected, we must find a better balance between work and home to create a more inclusive workplace in office and virtually—by leveraging technology.
Greater levels of productivity and flexibility offer benefits for companies and employees alike. With the right technology we can help employees through the transition to remote working and allow us to focus on their well-being and, thus, increase our commitment to customers and communities. However, these changes also require added responsibilities for employers, particularly to avoid the risk of anxiety and burnout. It is one thing to adapt to new practical ways of working individually, and another to evolve or scale a company culture that works for everyone. To build a better workplace that is innovative and inclusive of all, we must consider how we improve the employee experience, ensure fairness for everyone, and prioritise upskilling for the changing nature of jobs.
Here are three ways that we can implement new technologies and work arrangements—creatively and responsibly.
(i) Prioritise employee engagement
In the race to improve customer engagement, many companies have left employee engagement behind. Just as technology can be used to create great consumer experiences, companies can also deeply engage employees throughout their journey at a company—from attraction and on-boarding to fostering ongoing career success. More than ever, companies need to adapt quickly and create more relevant and engaging employee experiences wherever they are—just as we would for customers.
In an all-digital world, one of the greatest challenges companies face is maintaining their culture. As our working styles become more hybrid, forging a shared sense of purpose and belonging will become increasingly important. Just as data can help make faster and smarter decisions to benefit customers, intelligence gained through surveys and other forms of engagement can assist in building team togetherness and implementing initiatives that prioritise well-being.
(ii) Encourage flexibility and ensure fairness
Trust and flexibility are key to a work-from-anywhere strategy. Employers must trust employees to get the job done during the schedule that works best for them and offer flexible options. Creative initiatives such as time-off strategies can help make teams healthy, happy, and ultimately more productive for the company. As teams become more distributed, leading with empathy and understanding will become even more important.
Flexible working arrangements can offer a greater life-work balance—but if not implemented with care, these changes will put at risk the hard-won progress on pay and workplace equity. During the pandemic, for example, we’ve seen women shoulder an even larger burden of caregiver responsibilities at home. This can create an impact on the choices they make with regard to career advancement in the workplace. Just as businesses have a responsibility to create an equal, fair, and inclusive environment in office, it is imperative that this experience translates virtually.
(iii) Cultivate a culture of continual learning
Technology is helping organisations to do business better and faster than ever before. With automation, for instance, companies are able to streamline customer service operations and offer 24x7 support from anywhere and empower employees to focus on more strategic tasks. Just as the all-digital world we live in presents employers an opportunity to transcend traditional boundaries and tap into new pools of talent, it also requires us to further invest in hard and soft skills.
In the digital economy, every company is going to need teams that can leverage new technologies fast. Increasingly, too, they will rely on individuals who can solve complex problems, challenge the status quo, and engender a shared sense of purpose among distributed teams. To get the best out of people, leaders need to cultivate a workforce culture of continual learning and development in line with business needs.
Building a better world by evolving our culture
The future of work is improving the ways we do our jobs, but it’s also evolving our culture. By using this opportunity to build a better workplace we can provide meaningful roles, prioritise re-skilling initiatives and inspire teams with a common value set. To succeed, this means rolling out work arrangements that are fair and afford equal opportunities to everyone. While we could not have foreseen the rapidity at which the world of work would change, we do have an opportunity—and responsibility—to build something better.
Views are personal. The author is vice president, Solution Engineering, Salesforce India.
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