Today’s digital workforce looks a lot different than it did a year ago, largely driven by a pandemic that caused organizations to move entire workforces to remote work virtually overnight.
In a recent ManpowerGroup webinar, Technology + People = Transformation, Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO & Managing Director of TCS, Tata Consultancy Services, Jonas Prising, Chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup, and Heather Landy, Executive Editor at Quartz, shared insights on how the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, the impact on skills, and how companies can find the best blend of people and technology.
Here are 5 ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an acceleration of growing disruptive tech trends.
Human ingenuity + technology will endure
The pace of how quickly organizations adapted to the pandemic shows the importance of human ingenuity. In many cases, organizations shifted entire workforces to remote work in the span of a week. This was accomplished through sheer resilience and ingenuity, showing that even sophisticated artificial intelligence can’t completely replace the human element. This trend of technology interacting with human capabilities will endure. Although a lot of organizations had the capability of making the shift before the pandemic hit, the crisis initiated the change and made it happen. Organizations going through transformations should remember that it's not about the technology alone, but more importantly about the culture and how you lead and what makes you really make that step change that transforms the organization.
Flexible working models for all
Prior to the pandemic remote working on a full-time basis was close to 4% to 5% of the workforce. Today, it’s about 35 - 37% of the workforce with a blending of both the offline and the online worlds likely to continue. Workforces have been able to apply human ingenuity, the ability to adapt very quickly, and combine it with technology that while it was always there, we weren't embracing it to the same degree as now---we continue to do the work and maintain the productivity, but in a completely different way. Although human beings are social creatures that like to congregate, what this pandemic has proven is that organizations can create situations enabled by technology where we can combine work life and personal life in new ways that benefits the individual so that the flexibility is available when workers wanted and when they need it and it also benefits organizations all at the same time.
Continuous learning is a must
Growing reliance on technology will accentuate the polarization of the workforce between those that have the skills and the tools to make this transition and those that don't. The need for companies to invest in the tools and technologies to up-skill and re-skill their own workforce and create a learning culture within the organization have become even more essential. Many employers are still very unaware of the need to re-skill and up-skill their workforces, critical to growing their talent pool and their human capital in terms of skills and capabilities to execute on business strategies. The gap in training may eventually create a huge turning point in favor of a more scalable re-skilling and up-skilling effort at not only a company level, but also a nationwide level as this situation continues to evolve at such a rapid pace.
Strong cultures will win
In a recent Quartz survey, 37% of respondents said that they felt their workplace culture had improved since the start of the pandemic while 15% said they felt that it had deteriorated. Companies that were already at the top of their game culture wise, employees have a favorable impression. The split suggests that building and maintaining good company culture is important, especially when workers are spread out. Organizations that do the right things in terms of increasing the rate of communication, engaging teams, and prioritizing health and safety can emerge from the pandemic with an even stronger culture. As for leadership, organizations tend to move slower with transformational changes than their own frontline talent, so it’s important to create the leadership culture that can successfully navigate today’s complex, fast-changing environment.
Trust will dictate transparency
In the personal space, people have moved a lot in terms of being willing to share information even knowingly. Today’s environment is used to transparency for good or bad, but the trust factor, what institutions individuals trust with that information, is going to determine how workers feel about sharing it. Many of the world's largest companies today are essentially the world's largest companies because individuals provide so much data for free, which is monetized by the companies. It’s how organizations manage the data that will determine how much individuals trust them with it. In the end, it will come down to individual preferences, and the trade-offs they are willing to make — which have to be built on a full understanding of what the data is being used for.
Watch the Technology + People = Transformation webinar available on demand for additional insights.