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Future of Work - Flexible Work, Purpose-Driven Workplaces And A New Workforce

Businesses world over are in the process of reimagining and recalibrating themselves to balance digital, physical, and cultural transformations in the New-Normal. The digital, fluid, and sustainable future will support the new workforce made up of remote, contingent, and automated labour

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It is all about social capital today. With the pivotal role that the pandemic played in accelerating the already fast evolving work, workplace, and workforce dynamics, organisations have reached a point where they need to reset their workplaces to support and promote their employees’ hire to retire journeys. Work, workplace and even workforce is hybrid today, hence, there is an intensified focus on people and the power of choice that nurture social, personal, and professional connects through flexible work models and purpose-driven workplaces.

Businesses world over are in the process of reimagining and recalibrating themselves to balance digital, physical, and cultural transformations in the New-Normal. The digital, fluid, and sustainable future will support the new workforce made up of remote, contingent, and automated labour.

Work will be flexible and digitised. Stopping work is not an option, hence, the need of the hour is to ensure that both routine repetitive work and non-routine work that requires human engagement and judgement are enabled for hybrid working. Organisations are renewing their focus on digitisation of work to enable flexible or hybrid working capabilities and business resiliency. The intent is to bring in process digitisation, automation of work, seamless interactions between humans and machines, and facilitate fluid collaboration. Metaverse may soon be the key aspects powering future of work.

Workplaces will be fluid & sustainable. Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky’s recent email to his employees made headlines of many news websites. In that mail he rightly mentions “The right solution should combine the best of the digital world and the best of the physical world. It should have the efficiency of Zoom, while providing the meaningful human connection that only happens when people come together”. In other words, the offices now will need to be collaboration hubs that foster innovation, boost social interactions, and facilitate purpose-driven outcomes via fluid workspace design, phygital and sustainable solutions.

Workforce will be powered by Gig Economy. Whatever revolutionary transformations an enterprise may go through in terms of work and workplace, it is still only as robust as its workforce. And today’s workforce is far from the traditional full-time employees’ scenario. We are talking contract and gig workers, robots powered by AI and external contributors. The concentration is on outcomes, attract right skills, rapid sourcing, continuous learning & reskilling, and most importantly - workforce well-being. Mike Walsh, a Futurist Keynote Speaker, suggests the future work is also likely to be algorithmic & computational, driven by data and role of human work responsibility, capabilities and mindset needs to continuously change. 

With the human centric experience as the cornerstone, organisations must shape their future workplaces by developing Adaptive Workplace strategies that enable quick response to rapidly changing employee and market demands. And while they are at it, some of the fundamental elements which must feature in their transformation now are factors human centric experiences, inclusive culture and empathic leadership, which impact the workforce directly.

These measures will be imperative to strike a balance between digital, physical, and cultural transformations and will include:

Creating Human Centric Experiences through solutions that enable consumer-grade personalised experiences, ensure frictionless work, immersive collaboration, throughout truly engaging employee journey. The tools and measures employed in the organisation should introduce observability to discover employee wellness, belonging, purpose, achievement, and other aspects of employee experience. This can further be augmented by digitised business experiences enabled by business process automation that drives new business models, productivity, profitability, and competitive differentiation, consistently.

An Adaptable Workforce Culture should be developed to promote digital culture across teams and the organisation to ensure that the encounters with digital environments become a way-of-life and self-serviced. A Gartner survey says that 58% of workers require new skills to do their jobs. To address the skill gaps, embracing the future of work through a culture of continuous learning and reskilling is necessary. Another important element would be adopting the culture of composable teams with gig mindset. An article in Harvard Business Review envisions this culture as “a bold new breed of full-time, salaried employees who think and act like freelancers— self-manage, take spontaneous initiative, focus on skills more than roles”.

To move surely and successfully on this path of change and shifting focus the right leadership style is crucial marking transition from a control-based management to being trust-based management. Studies show that employees in high-trust companies have a 60% increased career satisfaction and 50% increased productivity. This requires leaders to acknowledge the altering the work dynamics and lead through empathy, understanding, and creating an environment that allows professional freedom and emotional wellbeing. Recalibration of standards such as wellness, policies, diversity, equity, and inclusion are needed to ensure that all employees have equal opportunities to reach their full potential.

As the future of work evolves, it is never too early or late to begin. Leaders can take the initiative to steer ahead, while technology powers the transformation of Work, Workplace, and Workforce towards a human-centric experience driven horizon.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
digital workplace pandemic new normal

Vivin George

He is the AVP & Head - Offerings & Solutions, Digital Workplace Services, Infosys

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