To thrive in the future you need to be prepared to change

By Ramanan Ramakrishna, - Employee experienceFuture WorkplaceFuture Workplace 2025 - ArticlesProductivity

In 10 years, when we look back on the present day, we will be amazed by how much changed in such a short time.

Society, technology and the economy are developing at a rapid pace. And these trends are shaping the way we work.

We’re seeing new types of people join the workforce who want to work in a flexible way, and they need the right tools for the job.

This means the traditional office is being replaced by a new lifestyle workplace, which is boundary-less, environmentally friendly and integrates colleagues across multiple generations (you can read more about this in our white paper).

But this change is not interesting on its own. What counts is your ability to harness these developments to help your business thrive in the future.

This was the topic of our recent webinar ‘10 essential steps to building a future-proof workplace’, which I co-hosted alongside PAC Principle Analyst Nick Mayes.

We used the findings of our Workplace 2025 global survey to devise some key steps that will help your organization get ahead as it prepares for the next 10 years.

Enhance employee freedom

Your customers keep your company going, but they wouldn’t exist without the work your employees do.

So what can you do to keep those employees happy? Think bigger than perks.

Free food and away days are great, but ultimately people want to be treated like the intelligent beings they are.

The easiest way to achieve this is showing you believe in their ability to get things done. So give them the freedom and the tools they need to be productive, regardless of where they are or what device they are using.

Businesses and their employees today are hampered by an outdated, fragmented approach to on-boarding and provisioning of entitlements. This simply must change, particularly as organizations shift to include more flexible working options and work more frequently with freelance staff.

Strike a better balance between compliance and user experience

It’s absolutely fundamental that you keep your organization safe from all sorts of risks, the biggest being a cyber-attack. But it’s no good locking everything up if your security strategy stops people from working effectively.

The balance between efficiency and security is a fine one.

Ultimately, people want to be able to use technology and not notice that security is running in the background. This isn’t always possible, but we should aim to have security impede on user experience as little as possible, especially as most employees now expect the kind of frictionless experience they have with consumer technology in their private lives.

One way of managing this is to use biometric sign-on. Combining this with other techniques like contextual and behavioural analytics can help maintain security and deliver a great user experience.

Beyond that, you need to have a strategy in place that underpins your data management and collection processes in the least intrusive way possible.

Use your data intelligently

Businesses are typically well equipped with lots of productivity tools, but the opportunity exists to make better use of the information about productivity levels within the organization.

Having a clearer picture of this will allow you to remove any barriers to employee productivity.

This should also apply to any barriers preventing people from collaborating with others who are outside their organization.

‘Co-opetition’ is increasingly the way to go, i.e. working alongside partners, analysts and even competitors to achieve shared goals.

Harness the power of wearables

The proliferation of wearables simply can’t be ignored. Some people would even consider a smartphone to be a wearable, given how close they are to most of our bodies on a day-to-day basis.

We need to embrace the potential they offer as they are increasingly an everyday part of an employee’s toolkit.

Set clear goals for projects involving wearables and then refine them based on how effectively they are improving your employee’s experience and productivity levels at work.

Deskill your workforce

When I say ‘deskill’ I don’t mean making your employees less skilled – of course not. I mean you need to start looking at how you can harness and preserve the collective knowledge and experience held by employees across the entirety of your organization.

What knowledge management platforms can you use to ensure that that valuable information is still available after older employees retire or workers choose to leave? What strategies can you apply to derive better insights by combining the knowledge harnessed from multiple employees across multiple departments which were previously “islands”? Most importantly, how can you do this implicitly (within the confines of employee privacy rights)?

Beyond that, you need to encourage people to share that knowledge with each other.

Crowdsourcing – whether internally or externally – can play a vital role here, as can gamification techniques, offering an incentive that goes beyond simple knowledge transfer.

Change is an opportunity

It’s obvious the workplace is changing. What’s less obvious is what you should do about it.

Deciding on your future-proofing strategy is difficult, but hopefully the above practical steps are a good starting point.

And don’t forget: there’s much more detailed advice and analysis in the webinar.

With a good framework in place, everyone is capable of harnessing change to avoid it being something dangerous and starts being something valuable.

If you can build the foundation for the next-generation workplace ahead of time, you will be well placed to differentiate yourself from your competition and secure your success for the years ahead.

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