COVID-19 has profoundly changed employee and customer expectations. We may not understand the full scope of this shift until we emerge from the other side, but there is no doubt “business as usual” looks much different than it did even three months ago. This global pandemic has unequivocally fast-tracked the need for digital transformation across all industries. Organizations must prepare for the future of work right now.
Physical vs. Virtual Operations—Perhaps a Bit of Both?
The mandatory shelter-in-place has uncovered many truths about business. Chief among these truths is just how much a remote workforce can accomplish, particularly when it is supported by the right technology. As a result, organizations and their employees are rethinking the reliance on physical delivery of products and services—with many opting to move permanently to an all-remote workforce.
Conversely, there are a number of companies that have only grown deeper in their appreciation for the communal and social aspects of a face-to-face work style. Moreover, there exists the possibility that some will choose to evolve into a physical-virtual hybrid that is dependent on departmental responsibilities and maybe even individual preference.
Regardless of an organization’s ultimate decision on physical vs. remote operations, there will be a need for greater flexibility in communication and collaboration. Technology and strategic digital transformation will help to set teams up for success in any environment.
Building Greater Resilience to Disruption
While we have been preaching about the benefits of digital transformation for nearly a decade, there are organizations and even entire industries that have been slow or altogether reluctant to adapt.
Unsurprisingly, it is the businesses that have already invested in digital transformation that have been best equipped to weather this sudden change. But regardless of an organization’s digital maturity, one thing became glaringly clear –– digital transformation, a strong data architecture and the democratization of data will be key to thriving in a future riddled with unknowns.
We must build corporate cultures that embrace data mindsets and tear down the silos that inhibit collaboration and agility. If we don’t, we risk exposing the business to security, supply chain, and customer and employee experience vulnerabilities. Something this pandemic exposed for far too many organizations. And unfortunately, many of those were not equipped to pivot quick enough.
Aseem Chandra, SVP, Experience Cloud at Adobe, put it best in a recent article on business resilience when he wrote, “Digitizing an organization’s processes doesn’t just mean that the company’s workforce is able to effectively work from home. Digital maturity is about building a technology foundation to empower teams to work, pivot and iterate rapidly.”
Creating a Culture of Innovation
Without continued innovation, businesses fail. And innovation simply cannot thrive when employees are afraid to take calculated risks.
If you want to build an organization that supports the future of work, you must cultivate innovation and agility. And that starts by first developing a safe environment—one in which teams do not fear retribution for their “failures.”
When we remove these insecurities, we encourage employees to take initiative. We establish psychological safety by becoming champions of open and honest communication. And once we replace blame with curiosity, “failure” become relabeled as stepping stones to our desired outcomes.
Supporting Real-Time Communication
Even if coronavirus did not impact your organization tremendously, it is likely employee trust in job security will have somewhat eroded. That is why it is vital to build the infrastructure that allows for real-time transparent communication among all stakeholders.
Employees must feel connected –– and that requires leaders to think about not only how to communicate, but also how best to provide an accessible platform for everyone to discuss issues, and share ideas and brainstorm ways to work through challenges together.
Putting People First
One positive that has come from this pandemic? The spirit of togetherness, in my opinion. Community partners, team members and businesses are coming together to provide relief and support in the most creative ways.
People and purpose over profits—it is a mantra that has been baked into the DNA of MST Solutions since the very beginning. And current circumstances have only underscored the power of such a perspective. With this as our guiding philosophy, we are better able to meet the needs of our employees, customers and communities—both now and well into the future.
Digital maturity, brand cultures centered on innovation and a people-first guiding principle—these are all just part of the first step in our journey to the future of work. And while there is certainly more to uncover along the way, one thing is for certain: we cannot fall back into our old routines.
We can no longer innovate only when we are forced to do so –– when we are operating in crisis mode. We must consciously choose to flip the innovation switch to “always on.” We must continuously find ways to encourage our people to challenge themselves and the status quo.