The Future of Work
“There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it … engages in open and free competition, without deception or fraud.” Milton Friedman, 1970
SHIFT FROM SHAREHOLDER VALUE TO STAKEHOLDER VALUE
Purpose of a Corporation “A fundamental commitment to delivering value to all stakeholders.” Business Roundtable, 2019
A singular focus on shareholder value defining the purpose of the corporation has been a topic of conversation since the 1970’s. Fast forward to 2021 and the discussion has changed notably – never has there been more focus on shifting the purpose of a company to one that meets the needs of and provides value to all of its stakeholders – employees, clients, service providers and shareholders.
The influences of Technological progress and Digital Transformation; Demographic, social justice and environmental changes; Globalization; and Labour flexibility have been changing the way we work for many years. Add to that the unprecedented impacts of a global pandemic, and you have a moment in time when reimagining the future of work in your organization has never been more important.
For those companies who think the Future of Work topic is one that can be addressed at a later date, the impact of COVID-19 has changed the game significantly.
As outlined in a Deloitte 2020 study of The Future of Work Models in Australia and the ASEAN-6 countries, the pandemic has dramatically amplified the rate of change to work models, challenging orthodoxies around workforce capability, configuration and flexibility. Now is the time to re-architecture work, to provide richness of choice, flexibility and autonomy – it’s time to focus on humanizing work.
“The future of work is really about people deciding how to live and work in the way that they want”.
Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit
PROMPTA’S FUTURE OF WORK MODEL
There are numerous models that attempt to address this complex challenge, each including a host of topic areas. When broken down into four key components, the scope becomes more manageable and the connections between each area become clearer.
The topic of where to work has been evolving over the past 20+ years as technology, work-life pressures and longer commute times have influenced when and where people work. Add to that the first global pandemic in over 100 years and examining alternatives becomes even more urgent and important.
Employees have weighed in, in 2021 that they expect some degree of flexibility to work somewhere other than in the office. In fact, 29% of those surveyed are willing to quit their current job if they are not afforded a flexible work arrangement. The result will be a move to more hybrid work places where teams are made up of in-person and remote members.
For those who are co-located at a company site, updated Health and Safety protocols designed to keep employees safe, from the time they leave home until the time they return, is a critical success factor for managing your workplace post-pandemic.
Another component of Work Places is how organizations design their office footprint. Providing collaboration spaces, quiet spots for individual work without distractions, as well as spaces designed for client meetings are all part of a comprehensive footprint design. Once again, the impact of COVID-19 requires the consideration of social distancing (at least in the short term) and enabling team collaboration regardless of where members are physically working. Forward looking companies are preparing their organizations to be able to pivot again should another global incident require quick action.
Over the past number of decades, an increase in digital transformation, the prevalence of AI in the workplace and the ongoing discussion of workers being replaced by machines has caused labour security concerns for workers in many industries. The fear that robots will take our jobs, fear that AI will dehumanize the workplace, and fear that the workplace as we know it today will change drastically.
The reality is, the workplace as we know it is already changing. And it’s changing for the better. A 2017 McKinsey study on the future of work found that at least 30 percent of activities at about 60 percent of all occupations are technically automatable.
Studies indicate that automation alone will result in the elimination of 50% of work tasks across multiple industries. The net effect on individual jobs can be viewed in two ways; 1 – job elimination / consolidation requiring fewer employees; 2 – an opportunity for employees to reskill and move to more creative, value-add roles that contribute to corporate growth.
The most successful organizations will seize the moment and proactively design new roles and jobs that will ensure future growth by leveraging automation where it makes sense, and tapping into the human potential of their existing work forces.
The topic of employment models is critical in defining the Future of Work for both employers and workers. For many decades the two most obvious models existed as part of the Job Economy or the Gig Economy. Fast forward to 2021 and the scale has expanded.
In fact, one view includes a continuum spanning 8 distinct models.
The four boxes on the left represent more traditional roles where an employee works for a single employer and is retained over a longer period of time. The four boxes on the left represent on-demand labour models. In these roles, employers trade employee loyalty and commitment for more focused expertise over a specific period of time.
Designing the future of work models for your company can provide a new level of flexibility for both your business and the people who do work for you. One concept to consider is the Rhythm of the Business. Over a period of time, the demand for goods and services can ebb and flow. One way to manage the peaks and valleys while maintaining balanced growth is by creating a workforce model with elasticity. A mix of traditional full-time employees combined with on-demand skilled workers can provide the opportunity to manage labour costs and workload spikes.
Company culture is the shared values, attributes, and characteristics of an organization. It refers to the attitudes and behaviours of a company and its employees. It is evident in the way an organization’s people interact with each other, the values they hold, and the decisions they make.
When considering the Future of Work, possibly the most important component that will enhance the experience and happiness of all stakeholders is Work Culture. Employees who work for a company with values and beliefs that are aligned with their own, are more likely to establish positive relationships with their co-workers and have an increased feeling of loyalty toward their clients and the company they work for.
Events of the past few years have shone a global spotlight on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), both in society as a whole and as a distinct aspect of the corporate culture.
What Is Company Culture? Definition and Examples of Company Culture, The balance careers, April 2020
DEI in the workplace matters, for individual employees and teams as well as the larger organization. Focusing on DEI is not only the right and socially responsible thing for an organization to do, it’s also what is best for the business and its people. When establishing a Future of Work model, focusing on DEI will prove to be a long-term factor in your company’s success.
Specifically, a successfully implemented DEI strategy can result in significant returns in multiple areas of the business.
A deliberate and ongoing focus on Work Culture will ensure a higher success rate in engaged and happy employees which directly impacts a company’s customer satisfaction and ultimately the bottom line.