working from home: how to reinvent work, the workforce and the workplace of the future
Yet the question is, how did the need to reinvent the workplace come about? The events that led to this were a combination of – the pandemic, the great resignation and the digitization process. From an employee’s perspective, the last two years of the pandemic have reinforced the epiphany that “health is wealth.” Additionally, two years of continuous WFH (Work from Home) led to employee burnout. i.e. “Big Resignation” and now this trend has evolved into “Stop Stopping”.
This forced employees to ask questions such as — Is there meaning or purpose to our work? How much control do we have over our time? How can we improve ourselves? And finally, do I work to live or do I live to work?
Consequently, there has been a marked change in the employee-employer relationship. The employee, for once, has the power. Therefore, a key feature of the workplaces of the future will be a new definition of the EVP (Employee Value Proposition). The EVP of future workplaces will be formulated on 4 parameters:
Employees with some level of freedom/control over how they work. The goal is to have the freedom to design your own work environment that allows for work-life balance and the ability to place boundaries separating
personal and professional life.
Workplaces are no longer just workplaces. For some, they give meaning to their lives, a purpose. In addition, the quality of relationships with colleagues and hierarchy, mentoring and coaching as well as transparency are the new motto of the workplace. Additionally, strong leadership will be key to attracting and retaining top talent for future workplaces.
Growth/Path: Employees want clarity in terms of career development. They want to see a clear path in terms of their role and want to have a say in shaping their career path within the organization. Moreover, they want the opportunity to improve their skills.
Listening culture: Employees want decisions at the organizational level to be based on their feedback. They should be seen as equal stakeholders in the formulation of workplaces. The aim is to have full transparency and accountability at all levels with the welfare of employees at the forefront.
Failure to instill these pain points when formulating an EVP will lead to a tendency like “silent stopping”. From an organization’s perspective, its entire modus operandi has been disrupted. In response, fluid reporting and organizational structures must be put in place to deal with a digitally distributed workforce. A reconceptualization of productivity must take place. The notion that productivity equals hours is outdated. Now it is simply defined as the quality of the output. For future workplaces, resilience trumps efficiency and productivity. From 2019 to 2021, the workplace has evolved 5 to 10 years, and it continues to evolve.
So in the future, the workplaces of the future will be those that can adapt to the challenges of a disrupted world. The workspace will be an integration of human, physical and digital elements. When designing such a workspace, one should have a clear and thorough understanding of the intersections and dependencies between these three elements. Technology will be essential for the workplaces of the future. Thanks to Big Data, AI — transparent and flexible data-driven work processes and systems will be implemented in a workplace. He will play a key role in integrating the physical and digital workspace. The workplaces of the future would leverage technology to constantly improve employee experience, user experience, improve digital skills, and enhance business agility.
Future workplaces may respond positively to the digitalization process. They would include adaptable employees who are able to constantly improve their skills, learn cross-skills, and perform different job functions. Again, technology will play a crucial role in facilitating this. This will help determine existing skills gaps through constant data-driven assessments. The two themes that will embody the workplaces of the future will be “personalization” and “adaptation”. and to adapt to an ever-changing economy and a disrupted world.
However, the backbone of any workplace in the future will be honest and genuine communication between employer and employee. The aim should be to create flexible/tailored communication protocols to ensure staff confidentiality, freedom and confidence when speaking. To go further, a leader must be able to assess when communication should take place in a private space and which platform is appropriate in the context of the communication.
(The author is the CEO of Mercer|Mettl)