The future of work isn’t approaching - it is already here. We are in the midst of increased digitization, a generation of digital native workers and productivity pressures. Today’s workforce needs a new approach to the day job. Yet, more often than not, organisations lack an overall strategy to manage the business of work. This is having a clear knock-on effect on their workforce which is becoming increasingly frustrated at having to spend too many hours on minor, unfulfilling tasks that aren’t getting them anywhere.
About the author
Jada Balster, Vice President, Marketing at Workfront.
In fact, Workfront's State of Work report has found that UK workers are spending 31 percent of their working week dealing with excessive emails, wasteful meetings and interruptions. Because of this, meaningless tasks have been ranked as the number one reason keeping employees from feeling fulfilled and productive at work.
Business leaders find themselves at a crucial moment. The workplace is already beyond the need for just ‘future-proofing’. Now it’s time for organisations to completely reimagine the state of work and respond to this new way of working for the next generation. If not, they risk losing out to their competitors, for both growth and the ability to retain talent from every generation.
This means a real shift towards systems that provide a better way of working for their teams. While we have seen many new workplace tools emerge in recent years to address team collaboration, and project planning, insights from the State of Work 2020 report indicate that knowledge workers around the world are still searching for a better solution to the work challenges they’re facing. The report highlights that 90 percent of UK workers are still craving modern technology options and 76 percent wish they had one centralized place to see all work across their company.
By adopting multiple tech options which don’t fulfill the real needs of their enterprise, or not giving their teams a clear view of what the whole company is working towards, organisations are only making work more complicated. Instead of building an agile work environment this is simply giving workers more business applications to manage every day. We are creating unfulfilled teams operating in ever more siloed, complex ways of working.
Instead, we need to look at work in a completely new way. To improve cross-team communications and keep progress on track, enterprises should adopt connected technology that scales their whole business—such as a modern work management solution.
With the use of operational business-wide software, mundane things like progress reports and status updates will be instantly shared across one single platform with all the right team members. Insights will be served proactively, rather than stored away, providing company-wide information that can move an organisation forward, towards a better way of working.
This will lead to a working day which contains far fewer (yet more meaningful) meetings, less distractions and the opportunity for workers to complete fulfilling, engaging work that drives the company’s strategy forward.
While technology provides part of the solution, it is not the only critical factor. There is a huge weight of importance on the human element of the future of work. Therefore, engaging your workforce and driving adoption of this new approach is imperative.
From working with thousands of companies through their modern work transformations, we’ve identified four fundamental attributes that are shared by the enterprises who are ready for the future of work. To ensure the modern requirements for work become a competitive advantage rather than a barrier to success, focus on these things:
1. Begin with visibility and context
Be transparent by actively communicating the company strategy through all your departments, teams, and to each person in your organisation. Make sure strategy is well-defined at all levels of your organisation and informed by data. This will give workers, along with executives, visibility into what exactly your company strives to achieve.
Most importantly, make sure each person understands the role they play in company achievement. Maintaining that continuous connection demonstrates resilient leadership and encourages an open company culture.
2. Work from data, not assumptions
Foster a workplace culture that is positive, open, and honest, while putting relentless focus on work performance. Do this by using data to align and make decisions about products, teams and projects.
Strive for excellence in resource management by making decisions based on real-time data rather than assumptions. In companies that achieve this, people and teams operate with confidence, not fear, leading to growth and success.
3. Develop a digital backbone
Provide your employees with the applications and systems they need to get the job done and stay fulfilled at work. This can be anything from instant messaging to product design software or the latest creative suite. Importantly, future-fit organisations make sure they also put in place a digital backbone that ties together individual tools into an orchestrated whole.
Supporting agile work processes and capturing information provides visibility and context. Adopting work management will drive technology strategy and the company’s vision.
4. Embrace a more dynamic approach to work
Display exceptional levels of organisational agility to be ready for future success. Rather than simply making existing work easier or more fluid, take on a more dynamic approach instead.
Work across departmental teams, adapt more frequently, empower new leaders, and redeploy them at the individual, team, or even organisational level to drive new market opportunities.
These are all factors which together create businesses that view every aspect of work as a critical business asset, not just a means to an end. People and helping individuals get their best work done should be at the forefront of the organisation’s mindset.
They do this by embracing collaboration, visibility, and the ability to actively manage work through new technology. Any business that adopts this approach to the future of work will discover they can turn pressures into opportunities, and progress faster - while simultaneously anticipating, and even driving, industry change.