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Preparing for the future of work: Navigating the changes

04 Aug 2021
Dan Beevers

Daniel Beevers

Director, Vodafone Business APAC

The future of work is exciting. From the anywhere work model to the evolving role of the office, big changes are coming our way.

In part one of this series, we caught up with our recent webinar guest speaker, Dan Bieler, Principal Analyst, Forrester, who gave us a sneak peek at what the future could hold.

Getting there, however, is a different question.

As businesses seek to seize the opportunities afforded by the future of work, they also need to ensure that they’re able to circumvent the challenges of uncertainty, and make sure no one gets left behind.

In the second of this two-part series, Dan gives us a closer look at how organisations can successfully steer their way through to the future of work.

Q: Businesses face a number of challenges in the near term – such as supporting widespread remote work, meeting health, safety and wellness regulations etc. How can they manage these challenges while preparing for long-term changes to the way they work?

Dan: Firstly, companies must place culture at the centre of your future-ready transformation initiative.

The most effective transformation initiatives lead with business culture transformation.

In addition to encouraging more experimentation to drive innovation, a new understanding of leadership is emerging.

The job of future leaders at work is to put things in context, be good strategists, enjoy coaching and communicating, and know how to use their specific expertise to help their teams fulfil tasks.

Secondly, redesign operational processes to support greater flexibility and strategic objectives.

To help drive the adoption of digital workplaces, businesses will need to foster organisational and process change as part of their change management activity.

Before CIO and CTO teams evaluate process improvements, they need to know what their organisation’s primary business objectives are. These objectives guide decisions such as what technology to provide.

In turn, this analysis provides the framework for the transformation of business processes.

Last but not least, invest in technology that supports anywhere work.

There are four main technology areas for enabling anywhere work: productivity tools, secure access, network connectivity, and analytics.

The key to supporting anywhere work is implementing a mobility strategy – which is different from a ‘cellular’ strategy.

A mobility strategy enables employees to seamlessly connect to systems of engagement and record wherever they are. Firms are spending more on mobility technologies because of the pandemic, including portable devices, better connectivity, and cloud-enabled apps.

Q: As the workforce evolves, how will it affect the way businesses engage with their customers? What should businesses take note of now, and in future?

Dan: My first piece of advice for businesses is to rethink your strategy for omnichannel customer engagement.

Most businesses underestimate the significance of the omnichannel opportunity for their customer experiences.

Customers expect to use a variety of digital touchpoints that have seen a boom during the pandemic, including live streaming, mobile selling, and video-based personal shopping.

Omnichannel affects customer engagement activities at every stage of the customer life cycle. True end-to-end omnichannel capabilities require a radical cultural shift toward ‘outside-in thinking’.

You must also prepare for mass-customised customer engagement.

Those businesses that proactively engage with existing and potential customers most effectively — in the form of pre-emptive problem solving or mass-customised product offerings — will outcompete those businesses that just passively wait for their customers to contact them.

Video-based and AI-supported customer support during the pre-sale and after-sale stages are critical for effective customer engagement and customer journey mapping.

Offer customers more self-service options.

Businesses should put some tools in place to facilitate and lower the costs of subscriber acquisition and support. This includes self-service portals and robotic process automation.

For customers, self-help is often faster and easier than contacting the service desk. Onboarding experiences, including activation, customer education, feature discovery, and in-product guidance, are critical.

Algorithms that predict when, how, and what to communicate to customers boost the customer experience.

Q: Are there implications or trade-offs as businesses reshape their workforce for the long term? How can they ensure no one gets left behind in the technological shift?

Dan: First up, bridge the need for stricter health regulations and closer collaboration.

A challenge will be to combine the desire for increased collaboration with the need for stricter health and safety regulations. Human resources together with management must experiment how businesses can adhere to social distancing rules whilst encouraging more and closer collaboration.

Embrace ongoing training.

Businesses will need to place greater emphasis on learning and education as part of job development initiatives. Drive higher adoption of digital workplace solutions through frequent communications, sharing technology showcases, and showing videos to demonstrate the value for key roles.

Moreover, deliver targeted notifications on devices to workforce personas, alert them about newly available apps and services relevant to them. Also identify line-of-business evangelists to help spread the word on the usefulness of the application.

Engage in regular, interdepartmental, and open communications and planning.

Anywhere work requires technology and business leaders to ensure smooth collaboration between team members in the office and remote locations.

A cross-departmental team, involving IT, HR, and operations professionals, should be responsible for defining and delivering the mobility strategy. Employees should be included in the process.

A poor technology infrastructure can damage your customer experiences.

Especially for customer facing roles, shoddy Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity makes anywhere work miserable, especially for employees who work in rural areas. An unreliable internet connection manifests itself in low-quality video and audio calls that ultimately breed employee anxiety and frustration.

Support employees who struggle with the downsides of the new work arrangements.

While mobility will enable people to work from anywhere, it also will make it harder for employees to disconnect from work.

About one in three employees report experiencing mental health issues related to isolation, stress, anxiety, and depression.1 Organisations will have to offer additional programs to help remote employees manage their mental health.

Choosing the right strategic partner

In conclusion, now more than ever, businesses need the right expertise to help them manage new ways of working and build an effective and future-ready work plan.

Schedule a meeting with Vodafone Business’ Consulting Services team to understand how we can help you design and implement new workplace strategies.

1 Source: Forrester’s Q4 2020 European PandemicEX Survey.

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