May you live in interesting times, is said to be a kind of ironic curse rather than well-wishing phrase. Without a doubt, we all do, considering the rate of change, upheaval, and disruption going on in the world around us – in part due to technology development and adoption, in part due to the change in behaviour, culture and expectations inflicted as side-effects from the Corona pandemic.
Fingers crossed, we’ll see the restrictions and lock-down measures lifted gradually and the pandemic contagion decreasing with increased vaccination levels. But some effects and shifts in values may have changed the world forever – especially in the labour market. With the remote work and work from home office practices yielding just as good if not even better productivity, quality and results, the expectations and opportunities for employers as well as employees are shifting.
Changing with the times
Employees who feel that they have thrived under the more flexible working arrangements will seek similar conditions to continue working and collaborating with the option of going in to a central office from time to time.
Employers who see the benefit of high levels of productivity and potentially lower costs for office space will support and promote a flexible approach to working from anywhere. In addition, in the extension – I believe this will be the starting point of a true globalization of the workforce where the type of services, roles and contributions required match the remote delivery and collaboration standardized during the last 18 months of the pandemic. Employers who have the option to recruit the very cream of the crop regardless of geography, regardless of time zone or local presence will have a tremendous leverage in the market compared to businesses who limit themselves to a more local talent pool. We’ve of course seen offshoring, outsourcing and talent sourcing with or without all kinds of international transfers, migration, secondments etc in the past – but all these flavours come with their own challenges, not to mention overhead administration and cost.
#TheBigShift looks to be great for employers, for businesses who already have pivoted to benefit from the formats of remote working – but employers are under similar pressures to compete for talent as talented employees are competing for certain positions or roles. The good ones will find flexible ways to accomodate to new employee values, preferences and priorities in life.
Finding the right match
What should talented employees who seek to match with these companies be looking out for? What will be the hallmarks of great places to work and nurturing, supporting organizations that match your dedication and passion?
- The world is your oyster – whether you yearn to work for the very top global brands in your industry, or if you want to find the perfect match in a niche bespoke service business, you can take the time to find the right organization regardless of geography.
- Look for an organization that aligns with your values in terms of impact in the world and internal culture – an employer that shares and promotes your personal values. This makes for optimal opportunity to contribute in the right direction, and a long-term collaboration.
- Look for flexibility and support – an organization that wants to develop and grow your skills as well as responsibilities. Find ways of working and collaboration formats that fit your lifestyle and productivity patterns.
- Last but not least, as with all things in life – a successful role and employment is dependent on personal relationships. Make sure that you connect with a manager and team that has the right chemistry and constructive attitude – this, perhaps more than anything else, will give you the prerequisite foundations to be successful.
The keys to engagement
What should ambitious businesses that want to harness the talent and potential of high performing employees do to prepare and enable a flexible working environment?
- Don’t let technology bog you down or become obstacles to accessing productive talented resources. Enable flexible ways of working with different types of devices and remote access. A modern workplace solution with efficient tools for collaboration is a no-brainer and a must-have to stay competitive.
- Build for flexibility, but maintain security. Trust, secure identity and access management, and robust connectivity for information management and transfer will distinguish businesses that thrive in the future from those who perish or struggle to compete. Modern, cloud based infrastructure is the backbone to build such solutions on – and it’s still just getting started.
- Be genuine. The values, culture and behaviour in the organization will determine whether or not your employees maintain productivity and stay with the business for the long term. This cannot be a quick-fix or late add-on to your organizational build – and needs to connect and align with your business model. An active and engaged Corporate Responsibility agenda can be an excellent way to build awareness, community and sense of belonging.
A curse or not, I believe interesting times are ahead. We’ll see new ways of working, collaborating, producing, communicating and creative deployment of technology to support our businesses and create value for the end Customers. It’s challenging, energizing, motivating, and – interesting!