Leadership: How to Prepare for The Future of Work

May 22, 2020 | Blog

A few months ago, a pandemic began sweeping through the globe, and everything changed for businesses. Governments issued stay-at-home orders, companies mandated work-from-home for employees, and everyone experienced a swift and unforeseen shift in their priorities.

Despite facing the chances of layoffs, furloughs, and shutdowns, many organisations around the world have taken action to protect the health and safety of their workers. They’ve banded together to leverage new skills and deploy workforce strategies to support workers as they shift to work-from-home settings.

As organisations start to emerge from these extraordinary circumstances, managers have to focus on the next set of challenges and prepare for a post-pandemic world. Now is the time to bring your workforce together and show them that despite the uncertainties, you have their best interests at heart.

Once you have their trust, it’ll be easier for your organisation to adapt to the challenges of a changing future – one where the idea of work might be very different from how we see it today.

What the Future of Work Might Look Like

The good news is that 87% of companies feel that they now have the technology and resources to work productively and remotely for a longer time.

Wire CEO Morten Brøgger highlights: “We’ve always understood that the future of work is outside of the four walls of the company. The past several months have demonstrated that even without any preparation at all, companies can maintain and even increase productivity while working from anywhere.”

However, to fulfil the massive demand for remote work after the current crisis blows over, HR managers and leaders need to prioritise certain capabilities and skills. But this is only possible if they are aware of the future of work and how they can tackle business in the post-pandemic world.

We expect to see the following trends in the workforce once the world gets used to the new normal:

Remote Work Becomes the Norm

Reports suggest that almost 45% of workers expect to work more flexibly when the lockdown lifts. More employees are demanding to work from home since now they know that it doesn’t affect their jobs or productivity.

Also, employees realise that they can get flexible hours, so they are able to fit in errands and appointments during their workdays. But there are a few notable issues that leaders will have to address, such as professional isolation, diffusion of personal life into work, or longer working hours. 

To prevent this, leaders will have to establish structured processes that promote communication among employees and keep regular checks on the remote teams’ deliverables.

Adapting to New Technology is Even More Important

Organisations all over the world are heavily relying on technology to get them through the remote working situation. It’s, therefore, no surprise that the world is seeing soaring demand for virtual workplace solutions that helped remote teams collaborate, communicate, and operate seamlessly.

Remote work services have delivered a surprising increase in efficiency as meetings move to conference calls and daily workflow transitions to project management software. Seeing the benefits of transparency and convenience in working from home, leaders and HR managers are likely to stick to these as a long-term solution and a new way of working together.

Businesses Commit to Employee Well-Being

Before the pandemic, employee health was sometimes just a buzzword that came with gym memberships at best. But now prioritising their health and happiness on a regular basis is vital for the future success of your business.

Not only this, but employers are also predicted to increase their involvement in the employees’ lives by supporting their mental health, expanding health care coverage, and providing financial assistance in health-related issues. Leaders need to commit to monitoring the wellbeing of their employees after the pandemic to ensure that their teams are never constrained with work due to colleague absences.

New Standards for Leadership Emerge

Leaders will have to adapt to lead through the inevitability after the crisis ends. The workplace of the future demands leaders to make bold decisions as they support their workforces through the recovery process and prepare their organisation for a new era of resiliency.

We will hopefully witness more leaders practicing transparency as they inspire their employees to do the same. Also, they’ll have to work on emotional intelligence to help their employees through assurance and empathy needed after this time of uncertainty.

Greater Focus on Human Connection

If there’s one good way this pandemic will impact the future of work, it is the strengthening of personal relationships among employees.

For a long time, relationships with colleagues were taken for granted, and many leaders were unable to realise the real value of employee engagement. Workplace connection consultant Lakshmi Rengarajan confirms that “for a long time, we’ve probably taken for granted the ability to see our co-workers every day and maybe didn’t realise how valuable that was.”

But now we see an increase in the number of businesses that encourage their staff to work on their selves. A survey shows that almost 98% of employees were regularly communicating with their team to keep them engaged.

Therefore, once everything returns to normal, there will be a renewed emotional connection as leaders prioritise employee engagement that previously got lost in grinding for tasks.

Renewed Sense of Values Among All Stakeholders

This crisis has completely transformed people’s lives, and many of them are questioning what holds importance in their lives. This calls for leaders to take a step back and consider this the best time to promote employee recognition and learn about their values and strengths.

After things start going back to normal, organisations with no value or mission may struggle to retain employees. Also, if these values are proposed and expected to be internalised by the employees, leaders will have to first live the company values even in the smallest of actions, or they will lose their meaning.

Enhanced Sustainability and Corporate Purpose

The magnitude of this crisis has shifted the world’s attention from the climate crisis and other sustainability-related topics – at least for now.

Whilst it can be difficult to focus on other issues while we deal with this pandemic, that doesn’t mean that these issues are no longer critical just because people have stopped validating them. In fact, sustainability and corporate purpose are more important than ever.

The important thing to consider is that sustainability will remain critical over the next decade and organisations of tomorrow have to invest in eco-friendly infrastructure and shift to a low-carbon future. This will help in creating jobs while increasing the environment’s resiliency. Leaders must assess the implications of this pandemic for climate action and sustainability and devise steps for the organisation to align the future of work by keeping sustainability in mind.

The Bottom Line: Create a Future Work Environment for Your Teams

In these uncertain times, businesses require good leadership to help them recover from this pandemic. They’ll have to create strategies that focus on short-term actions while also fulfilling the needs of the future and a new normal.

There is no better time to support employee engagement and recognition while also helping them prepare for the next phase so they can thrive in a new world. Heroic actions taken by leaders will pave the way for recovery with meaningful change.

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