The Future of Work Is Here: Now Is the Time to Seize the Moment
Through the mass introduction of remote working and the newfound prevalence of the daily news cycle, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought permanent changes that must be adapted to.
Pat Lynes, founder and CEO of consultancy disruptor Sullivan & Stanley and author of The Interim Revolution, shares his thoughts on the future of work with CEO Today.
My mission for Sullivan & Stanley, the business I named after my two boys, was to inspire the future of work for their generation. I wanted to create a better workplace for them, so they can do what they love, with work-life integration, to make the most of their time here on planet earth.
Whether it was going to be five or 20 years down the line, I truly believed there would be a point in time where organisations realised that the industrial ways needed to die out and the future of work would come to fruition.
Nobody would have wished for what we’re going through right now. However, the COVID-19 crisis has delivered a blueprint for a future of work that is sustainable for all working generations and businesses moving forward.
As the founder and CEO of a consultancy disruptor, I speak daily with executives across industries including high street and grocery retailers, banks, telecommunications organisations, media companies and utility suppliers. And, although they are all under extreme pressure in this state of ‘business as unusual’, COVID-19 has given them a crash course in how they can deliver extreme change for good and create a better world of work.
[…] the COVID-19 crisis has delivered a blueprint for a future of work that is sustainable for all working generations and businesses moving forward.
Most I have spoken to, have noted they don’t want to go back to slow decision making from hierarchical structures in bloated organisations. The days of analysis paralysis, death by business case, lack of trust in the workforce, micromanagement and outdated leadership needs to be retired forever. And these leaders no longer want to outsource their thinking, strategy and change management capability, as they’ve realised the true value of giving the most important outcomes to their internal workforce to create learning and a sustainable capability internally.
The future of work is here, so how can businesses embrace the challenge and lead the charge?
Welcome remote and flexible working
With lockdown in effect, it has forced the majority of organisations to develop and execute digital working practices. And, unlike a decade ago, there are fewer technical barriers than ever before, so it is enabling employees and businesses right now, to get the job done (from home).
As we eventually ease out of lockdown, with many businesses trialling and embracing this remote approach, it’s time to capture the good and finally get rid of the baggage.
This baggage could appear in a physical form, by reducing the number of office locations or huge headquarters. Or it could take a psychological shift, with command and control finally taking a back seat and servant leadership being front and centre, as trust has driven companies forward during this crisis. The result, a trust-driven, hybrid of technology and human-centric businesses which can be truly agile.
Imagine a world where you have no barrier for the talent you can find and engage due to a remote-first working policy.
Be driven by valuable outcomes (not time)
The industrial revolution measured time and activities. The fourth industrial revolution will measure the quality of output and value to customers and the bottom line through a mix of humans doing the most valuable work and machines doing the rest.
With this comes cross-functional teaming, which can feed into wider business strategies, meaning everyone is aligned. Tied back to being remote, it’s a much more productive and efficient way of working, which is both beneficial to the business and its people. This is because everyone is judged on their outcomes, not by how many hours they clock!
Create an operating model which embraces continuous change
This pandemic has proved that disruption can come from anywhere at any time and can completely shake up the very core and foundations of how a business operates.
Start asking yourself the right questions. Will the customers and employees of today be the same as tomorrow? Are you spending the time to build a business that can keep designing products, services and experiences to the ever-changing customer preferences that come with four or five generations now buying online?
It’s time to design an operating model, with a 21st-century strategy, which allows your business to continually reinvent every three, six or 12 months, in line with the fast-changing market landscape. This will also allow organisations to truly align the board and workers around a common purpose – serving their internal and external customers.
Are you spending the time to build a business that can keep designing products, services and experiences to the ever-changing customer preferences that come with four or five generations now buying online?
This means it’s time to stop outsourcing your business-critical work to management consultancies and instead be a change-ready business, able to adapt to any market and global conditions that are likely to come in the coming years and decades.
The World Economic Forum at Davos predicted – organisations that will thrive in this decade, will be the ones that master the art of change and bring learning back into their businesses. We can’t argue with that!
So, now there are two choices.
Hide away and continue to cut costs without any investment in the future – you may lose ground and struggle to come back from this.
Rethink, reorganise and reinvent – embrace the challenge and create a business that is sustainable in this new world. You can de-risk your change journey, by uncovering your strengths and weaknesses with our ChangeReady scorecard.
After everything that has been thrown at us, it’s made us realise how precious our time is. So, we need to rebel against the industrial ways of working, which are interlaced with strict regimes and high-stress levels and instead, make the future workplace better for everyone. It’s about time we felt happier and more fulfilled in our work, doing what we love and in turn, be inspired to make a difference in the world.
Now is the moment to be brave in leading your organisation into the future of work. What will you choose?