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Preparing for the future of work: Charting the roadmap

29 Jul 2021
Dan Beevers

Daniel Beevers

Director, Vodafone Business APAC

A year ago, the world became swept up in what was dubbed the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.

Since then, we’ve run the full gamut of emotions that can be associated with virtual meetings – from embracing the fun and whimsy of video filters for work, to reaching the peak of video call fatigue’, and we’ve come to accept this as the new reality.

More importantly, most of these new trends were not created – but simply accelerated – by the pandemic.

For businesses, it is a lesson in the need to always be ready for the future. In the first of this two-part series, we follow up with the guest speaker from our recent Vodafone webinar, Dan Bieler, Principal Analyst, Forrester, who takes us through what more the Future of Work will hold.

Q: How will the future workforce be different from today? Are there trends / elements that will remain the same 5-10 years from now?

Dan: It’s fair to say no one can predict exactly how the future workforce will look, feel and function, but we can make an educated guess from our current knowledge of the workplace. Here are five trends we can expect to rise.

Anywhere work is becoming the new normal.

An anywhere work strategy is a business technology initiative. It enables employees to work successfully and securely from any location with a wide variety of devices, applications, and network connectivity options.

Anywhere work improves employee productivity and engagement, maintains business continuity, and ultimately deepens customer engagement. Businesses need to embrace an anywhere work strategy if they want to preserve employee engagement, maintain business resiliency, and stay connected with customers.

More-flexible work is replacing the traditional 9-to-5 framework.

The way we think about the workday is changing. The hybrid workforce, where some people will work from home while others will work from the office — in a rotating manner – is becoming the norm.

As a result, all employees are increasingly growing accustomed to more flexibility, and remote workers will no longer be treated as second-class members of the workforce.

As more remote freelancers and gig workers make up a growing part of the workforce, a more flexible and diverse workforce will be born. Employees will increasingly be paid for the output of their role rather than just for turning up in the office.

Required skills are transforming.

Technical skills in high demand include data analytics, software development, and other digital skills. But soft skills, such as flexibility, communication, planning, organisation, creative thinking, teamwork, and empathy, are also growing in importance.

Moreover, the rise of automation will affect many jobs, leading to an evolution in the tasks involved for many professions.

Combining automation with the soft skills will empower businesses to explore new value propositions.

Businesses are moving toward more agile product-based workstyles.

With the rise of agile businesses, cross-functional product teams are becoming more widespread.

These teams are focused on one specific objective and are highly autonomous. They normally comprise of a product owner, designers, developers, a quality controller, and an agile team lead.

Such an approach to work requires more self-initiative, creativity, passion, and self-discipline from employees.

Customer centricity and obsession will remain a constant.

The absolute focus of all employees will have to remain the customer. All operational, cultural, and technology changes and the shift to agile ways of working must be about helping the customer to get relevant results. Today and in the future.

Q: How will the physical and digital infrastructure of the workplace change?

Dan: The five trends I’ve detailed above effect a fundamental shift to the way we work. As a result, the relationships we have with the workplace change too.

Formal offices are becoming less central to overall working life in a post-COVID-19 world.

The physical office space will remain an important part of the overall work environment, especially for collaboration and meetings. However, it will no longer be necessary that all employees be physically present in the office during the work week.

Consequently, the office space per employee in the office is likely to increase, in spite of the likely decline in overall office space in central urban areas in coming years.

Top employers will provide employees a modern office workspace to empower them to engage with their peers outside of a cubicle environment. Meanwhile, businesses also should pay attention to emerging regulations affecting home workspaces. In some countries, legislation is already emerging to regulate the home environment.

Productivity technologies support better customer and employee experiences.

Most organisations need to revisit their technology strategies to prepare their employees for anywhere work.

Technology leaders will need to update their strategies to help foster employee productivity, allow better collaboration between anywhere workers and office workers, and support a better employee experience.

Productivity software, devices and device management, networking, remote access security, and IT support enable flexible working solutions. Productivity software relates primarily to virtual assistants, communication and collaboration tools, smart boards, whiteboards, and employee apps.

Cyber threats require a new approach concerning cyber-security.

Remote working increases the attack surface that cybercriminals can target.

Forrester’s Zero Trust security model enables IT admins to grant secure access wherever employees are, with as little friction as possible, using the phone as second factor, biometrics, or a software-based one-time push notification. 

A Zero-Trust security approach enables access for an anywhere worker at home, in a coffee shop, in coworking spaces, or at any other location.

A customer-centric focus

In conclusion, characterised by the shift to remote working, changing skillsets and agile working patterns, the Future of Work will look vastly different from what we know of the workforce of today.

Amid these shifts, the focus on customer-centricity should remain a constant as it will guide organisations on the ways they should adapt to continue providing relevant results for the customers.

As the workforce and workplace evolve, organisations face a new set of opportunities and challenges. How can businesses actively work to capitalise on the opportunities and address these challenges coming their way? We’ll address this in the next blog post, stay tuned.

Watch the full webinar with Forrester or learn more about how technology can help you and your workforce embrace this brave, new world.

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