The workplace revolution started without a single employee protest.
Millions of people never ventured into remote work until the pandemic brought all in-person workplace activity to a grinding halt, forcing only the tech-savvy organisations to move to the virtual space.
According to Magazine Nigeria, prior to the pandemic only 36% of workers exclusively worked from home. Now, at least 4 in 5 people have been affected by the stay-at-home or work-from-home measures, according to Deloitte.
Truth be told, we cannot say that we did not see this reality of remote work coming. We may not have predicated that it would take a global pandemic but with the gradual incursion of technology and its increased patronage, this future of work was inevitable.
For avoidance of doubt though, what exactly is the future of work?
The Organsation for Economic Co-operation and Economic Development (OECD) makes it clear that the future of work is characterised by an inclusive workplace, digitalisation, acquisition of skills and increased learning, social protection and job quality.
In same vein, Deloitte explains that the future of work is shaped 2 main factors: artificial intelligence and on- as well as off-balance sheet talent.
What is clear is that the future of work demands:
Technology as vehicle for work, irrespective of physical distance and combining seamless communication and effective tools for collaboration
Flexible and resilient workforce willing to learn
Management willing to adapt and provide an inclusive environment
Before now, employee productivity and quality of work, indiscipline, the lack of motivation, distractions from home and limited access to office infrastructure settings as well as the inability to work independently or with limited supervision were reasons working from home was less appealing to employers. Yet, the global reality has forced managers to reconsider, brainstorm with staff and put measures in place to ensure that physical distance is closed and productivity is guaranteed.
This then shows that the future of work is brought to bare through team effort from both organisations’ management and employees. While managers are open-minded and inclusive in their approach, employees must be on top of their game to stay relevant and be deemed fit for the new environment.
What The Future of Work Entails
Several apps like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Share point, Zoom and more have provided the necessary platforms for workers’ productivity by mimicking what a typical office space looks like. Similarly, millions are making more use of solutions that permit file storage through cloud applications.
As the world of work evolves, the composition of the workforce becomes more flexible. Short-term contracts, temporary jobs and the ‘gig’ economy are becoming increasingly popular. New work roles are emerging while the hours have become flexible. Emphasis is now on employee performance and tangible results rather than face-time. As long as the job gets done, it does not matter if the strict 9-5 rules are followed or not.
Employee financial bliss
Taking away the cost of feeding during work hours and commuting has lessened the financial strain on thousands of employees.
The freedom of choice in work hours has changed the game. Workers do not feel pressured to work on the hour, rather they are encouraged to discover periods where they are most productive and maximize that for the benefit of the organization.
Slashing commute times and this flexibility in work hours allows workers to spend more time on themselves and build their relationships.
Changing recruitment criteria
The widespread discovery in this era is that certain job roles are not as relevant in a digital economy. As is being witnessed, those offering unskilled labour bear the brunt of this shift while full-time employees who offer no competitive advantage are being replaced with contingent workers. Likewise, there is a rise in recruitment of individuals with critical skills, crucial to the achievement of strategic goals as well as individuals that ensure smooth work flow.
With technological advancement and heavy dependence on it, comes an alarming increase in cyber insecurity. This exposure to fraud, intellectual property theft, identity theft, defamation of character, cyber theft and more, leave employees at risk unless they are properly trained on cyber security, being weary of their digital footprints, privacy and cyber ethics.
Accessibility is trickier for industries that need to share sensitive data like medical records, However, one can leverage on the capabilities of a cloud-based blockchain platform to add another layer of security and introduce identity-based access restrictions, utilizing public or private application authentication to provide access to authorized users only. This makes it nearly impossible for threats to access sensitive data.
How to navigate the future of work
Beyond digital skills, there are other skills that are paramount when it comes to being successful in this age.
2. Innovation and creativity
3. Ability to work with little supervision
4. Collaborating remotely
5. Result-oriented mindset
6. Effective communications with active listening skills
7. Clear data interpretation
8. Flexibility and willingness to learn
9. Problem solving and critical thinking
10. Good judgement
Which of these life skills do you possess?
Inasmuch as the economic state of the world has ushered in the virtual workspace/home office as the most viable way of ensuring organizational recovery and sustainability, a caveat is that we should not forget to stay human. As easy as it is to focus on the goals to be achieved, there remains a need for human connection to ensure utmost productivity.