The COVID-19 pandemic has led organizations to 'invent' new practices and rethink goals and strategies. It's a no-brainer that workplaces of the future are going to be dramatically different from what they were before the pandemic, as some of the measures that organizations adopted to weather the crisis are bound to stay on forever. As organizations try to envision the future of work, technology is taking center stage. It is acting as the key enabler driving business change and helping organizations align with the new normal. Here are some key areas that technology will help reimagine:
Setting goals and defining work outcomes
The compensation trend* is moving from 'paying for the job' to 'paying the person.' This essentially means that organizations would compensate a professional based on what they contribute towards achievement of business outcomes, and not according to day-to-day tasks that have been accomplished. Technology, such as cloud-based productivity tools and automation, will help employees contribute to the overall business outcomes by making their routine work easier. For instance, when companies migrate to the cloud sales professionals can have access to customer data anytime, anywhere helping them in upselling or cross selling products and services much faster. This is because most cloud-based platforms also have predictive analysis that provides insights into customer behavior and needs. Using such technology, employees would spend less time sending emails or creating reports. Instead they would focus on strategic, outcome-oriented goals that contribute to the overarching business outcomes.
Collaboration among teams
Remote work is one radical change that the pandemic necessitated. Long after the crisis has passed this change may have become a part of the mainstream. Gartner predicts that globally 48% of the employees will work remotely at least some of the time after the pandemic. With teams working remotely from different locations, collaboration becomes more important than ever. The mantra in such a scenario is to 'over-communicate.' Whiteboard and brainstorming sessions not only help in productivity but also boost employee morale. Cloud-based collaboration tools, voice and video-conferencing tools, virtual chat rooms, shared calendars, automated workflow and resource scheduling, and shared online information repositories come to the rescue by helping team members to connect, communicate, and collaborate in real-time.
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As more people start working remotely, managers will need to rethink ways to get visibility into employee productivity. They will need to redefine performance metrics and appraisals. Advanced analytics will pave the way for personalized, real-time monitoring of individual employee performance, triggering prompt support and intervention. Performance management software, such as Clear Company and Bamboo HR, can further help streamline the process by transparently establishing performance goals that are collated through multiple data sources.
Digital transformation and business continuity
While cloud adoption had gained considerable traction before COVID-19, the pandemic has introduced an element of urgency to digitalization. Organizations are rapidly shifting their workloads to the cloud to enhance their virtual presence and ensure business continuity. For instance, during the pandemic-induced lockdown manufacturing companies were able to make faster business decisions on strategically opening factories by assessing if these were located in COVID-hit zones; they were able to get the workforce back in shifts by using technology that put 'safety' at the core of reopening while ensuring business continuity. Cloud adoption, along with automation and AI, is seeing a big surge as organizations rush towards digital transformation and data-driven operating models. IoT is another technology that is emerging as a champion of connected workplaces - factories, corporate offices, dealership and retail outlets, warehouses, and employee desks - a typical characteristic we will witness in the near future.
IT infrastructure support
Lastly, but also most importantly, organizations need to strengthen their IT infrastructure and make it more resilient and flexible for the next new normal. Remote working employees need to be equipped with the optimum network bandwidth and devices (read laptops) that support their anytime-anywhere work style. The need of the hour: a combination of hardware and software, that is user-centric, compatible, highly secure, and offers powerful computation capabilities. Additionally, employee work devices must house high-resolution webcams and advanced speaker systems for high-quality collaboration.
Adapting to the new normal may seem scary, but with the right strategies complemented by the right use of technology, organizations can make the transition seamless while ensuring employee well-being and high productivity levels.
*Source: Gartner study