Navigating the New Way (Reality!) With the Future of Work - IDC Analyst guest blog

Angela Salmeron - 9th April 2021

We are in the middle of one of the most important turning points in history, and the future is in our hands; any decisions made today will impact future generations. 
Seismic changes are taking place, impacting how we work and engage with others and redefining our reality. The New Way is fundamentally about people, about new and great human experiences, and it's here to stay. There's no return to the Old Normal.

Digital transformation is positioned as the panacea to survive the current crisis, as the great enabler to bring about innovation and a competitive edge. But IDC research shows that to succeed, the culture supporting digital strategies must be “Human First”.  

When Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast 

Companies, big and small, are making important strides in customer engagement and in building partner ecosystems. Inside their organizations, however, much-needed cultural changes are slow and painful. 

This slow cultural change is of strategic importance. According to recent IDC surveys, organizational silos and outdated management styles are the main obstacles to realizing value from digital investments. In other words, business culture is holding digital progress back.
So how do companies survive and thrive in the New Way when they are still operating with anachronistic models? What's the way forward? As Albert Einstein once said, "You can't use old maps to explore a new world."

IDC suggests taking a Future of Work approach, focusing on the following four areas: 

  • The hybrid workplace 
  • Organizational agility 
  • Leading with empathy 
  • The augmented workforce 

The Hybrid Workplace 

Where to work — at home or in the office? This dilemma has generated a lot of attention in the media and become a puzzle for many businesses as they balance financial gains with employee experience and company culture. IDC forecasts show that full-time home workers will increase from 3% in 2019 to 43% in 2022 of the office working population in Europe. With this shift underway, most companies are designing a hybrid workplace environment to address different workstyles. 

To make a hybrid model work at scale, IT departments (in collaboration with colleagues in HR, IT procurement, and Facilities) are implementing an intelligent digital workspace. According to IDC surveys, employee experience and a modern management approach, enabled with intelligent insights and helpdesk automation, are focal areas in the hybrid workplace. 

Organizational Agility 

"Adapt or die" says the old adage and companies with a rigid, hierarchical, and highly bureaucratic organization are bound to fail. As human experience becomes synonymous with new business values, IDC proposes the following organizational initiatives:  

  • Set up an Employee Experience Department — across IT, HR, IT Procurement, and Facilities — that can deliver a superior experience to employees. By joining the dots across different departments, employees can be supported in "moments that matter," from onboarding to paternity leave and relocation.   
  • Build an agile organization with a focus on "delighting customers" with great experiences. Agile teams adapt to changing environments with speed using a "single source of the truth" and real-time analytics that show status and goals. There is no ambiguity in an agile environment, and everyone is on board.   

Leading with Empathy 

The need for organizational change is questioning traditional leadership models and creating internal power battles. Bottom-up, employees are increasingly trusted with end-to-end accountability and decision-making power, while top-down, middle management (who are most at risk of losing out) are resisting change. 

Business leaders have two choices, ultimately — either to preserve the status quo and risk their own existence, or to empower, inspire, and trust their employees with leadership that cares and is empathic. The latter has proven to triumph in the end — happy employees make for happy customers. 

The Augmented Workforce

Investment in automation is ramping up across critical business areas, chiefly in customer engagement, workplace management, and supply chain functions, according to IDC research. Interestingly, automation is not shedding jobs to the same degree as it was prior to the crisis. Rather, it is augmenting work by replacing "labor" with "human" creativity and business value. 

Moreover, tool democratization is giving way to an army of citizen developers for whom the "art of the possible" is at their hands. Equipped with low code/no-code development tools, innovation is no longer restricted to R&D; any employee can make their company disruptive to stay ahead of the game. 

Final Remarks 

In conclusion, to navigate the new reality companies need to embrace a human-first digital strategy, with an engaged workforce, trust, and a sense of purpose at the core. 
Playing safe is no longer an option since disruption and uncertainty won't go away post-pandemic. To survive, businesses need to be bold, brave, and keen to explore the unknown ahead of us. 

Are you ready? Partnering with IT companies with a similar human-first digital approach is a great first step towards success.

Recently, Angela Salmeron shared her insights in our "The Future of Work: It’s a whole new way of working" virtual event hosting Chris Pope from ServiceNow and our client Coventry Building Society. 

Listen to this session to hear more on the new ways of working and how ServiceNow is being used to drive innovative new strategies.

Get in touch with our ServiceNow Elite experts to learn how we can use the Now Platform to boost agility and resilience for your business.