The Impact of COVID-19 on the Future of Work
As the global community emerges from months of strict measures, we all look forward to getting back to normal. Working from a distance has changed our mindset about the future of work at every level of community. Countries, public institutions, and companies will face multiple challenges in preparing for the future of work. A McKinsey survey of world leaders conducted in October 2020 found that COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by several years. Companies have stepped up digitization of their interactions with customers and the supply chain and their internal operations from three to four years, in response to a drastic shift from customers to online channels. Also, working remotely and using cloud-based collaboration tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have exploded in the aftermath of COVID-19. The pandemic has also witnessed a significant increase in the use of automated robotic processes (RPA) because of the outbreak.
An area for change is now how we work. COVID-19 is a proof that the future of work will be cloud-based and automated. With a majority of the world's remote labor force and automated and cloud-based tools, the concept of a work has evolved into something that had never been planned before. However, businesses often face several challenges that could delay the transition to circumstances such as the unclear roadmap, lack of resources and cloud compliance.
As Corpera, we observe that every transformation follows three stages: think big, start smart and scale fast. It prioritizes a series of rapid gains that foster long-term success rather than create a ‘huge' disruption. However, to achieve these stages, all elements of the workplace and workforce management need to be fundamentally reconsidered. Underlying assumptions must be reviewed, rebuilt, and implemented.
We have five pieces of advice to give businesses for today:
● Reskilling Employees: A major part of preparing for the workforce of the future is retraining your people. Technological change has always shaped labor markets by changing the demand for different human tasks and skills. Investing in training to give workers new skills is a clear and common political response to these shifting effects. Reskilling makes sense from a business point of view. Providing team members with access to and training on new technologies to use in their work can give companies a boost in recruitment, retention, and performance. Retraining employees not only helps the company make long-term savings, but also helps it advance its career.
● Change in Management Practices: Management practices have an important role to play in enabling businesses to adopt and use new technologies to complement the labor force and improve productivity. Specific sub-topics in this field include general management practices, human resource management (i.e., recruitment, hiring and retention decisions), workplace design and managing human interactions related to technology. Many companies and industries have the potential to achieve significant productivity gains through improvements in all these areas. However, identifying and testing these opportunities can be challenging, particularly in contexts where technology is rapidly changing.
●Streamlining Communications: In terms of digital disruption, which is now a steady state in most organizations, ongoing communication is vital. Digital change can be exciting, but it puts a great deal of pressure on companies and their employees. Therefore, pay special attention to workers who feel stressed about technological progress and ongoing changes. When a company finds itself in a period of transition, uncertainty can easily generate rumors, resentment, and stress among workers. This is partly because change can make employees feel unsafe at work. In this sense, a clear communication strategy toward employees would mitigate this uncertainty.
● Fair Delegation of Tasks: When a disruptive digital change occurs within your organization, you may feel uncomfortable delegating tasks to your team members. But if you don't, you're going to deny them valuable professional development opportunities. It also means that they will not be able to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the labor market of the future. In addition, failure to delegate can reduce your burn-out time. Encourage your employees to take responsibility for their work without micro-managing. Let them know that you accept their ideas for improvement or suggestions to take a different approach from what you might have considered. Keep the door open for them to ask questions or share their ideas or concerns about how they perceive digital projects that change the work environment.
●Redesigned Work Environment: Companies can also use new technologies to implement innovative work plans. People are inherently social animals that are biologically linked to spend quality time with each other and are generally not doing well during the long period of isolation. One example that has been the focus of much discussion is the trend towards allowing employees to work from home, which benefits from widespread access to high-speed Internet. Although this type of “alternative” provides clear benefits to workers, its overall impact on the productivity of firms (or teams) is less well understood.
In conclusion, the world of work is evolving rapidly, and companies that are not proactive in the face of critical professional trends may be left behind. There is a growing expectation that businesses will support employees on reskilling and retraining issues and provide them with the means to put themselves to work. To remain competitive, it is essential to understand the issues that are important to your employees and to determine the key areas that will allow you to move your business forward.
Learn more about how CORPERA advises companies on Future of Work.
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