by Jim Steinlage, President & CEO of Choice Solutions
Has the workplace changed forever due to COVID-19? In many ways, yes, particularly when it comes to remote work and the impact it’s had on the employee experience. It was inevitable even pre-pandemic the momentum was increasing that AI, competition for workforce and rapidly evolving work environments would drive organizations to change into the future. The health crisis has simply exploded the pace overnight at which it’s happening.
With the recognition and the speed of change we’re still dealing with many unknowns. Here are some areas where technology is continuing to play a transforming role in the workers experience and will continue over the coming months and years.
Remote Work is Here to Stay
The changing market has meant organizations need to change, too. Companies that offered occasional or temporary work-from-home opportunities are now either putting permanent remote environments in place or are considering hybrid solutions. Part of the shift is driven by the fact that surveys seem to indicate employees appear to be more productive when they work remotely. I have my personal mixed opinion on the productivity findings. I think a lot depends on the workers self-initiative, technology tools given them, and results based measurable expectations. With increased demand for this style of working there is also affordable advanced technologies that are making it a sustainable option. Most workers now say they want to work remotely at least part of the week. There is some business value to considering adopting such a model as you’re no longer confined by geographic restrictions when accessing the increasing short supply of talent availability.
Employee experience has traditionally been shaped around culture, technology, and physical space. Today, technology is having the most significant impact. This transformation has put a spotlight on a tech-centric employee experience, with remote work adding new considerations and creating an environment where HR, IT and even Marketing is working closer together.
Although our business solutions were always focused on the remote workforce, many organizations were entirely unprepared for a remote workforce when the pandemic hit. A year and a half later, they’ve come to accept there will be a new normal. It won’t be business as usual as we know it from the past. While the version of remote work now in practice will likely be reimagined and reconfigured, technology will remain at the center of creating an employee experience that fosters innovation, creativity, collaboration, and productivity.
A Digital Transformation Workers Can Thrive On
Since early 2020, most businesses have undergone some level of digital transformation. For many, though, the “digital” component has often been lacking. For instance, app design for the workplace usually lags what people are used to in their personal lives. But optimal productivity relies on employees having the same human-centric experience at work as they do at home. Organizations must find a way to make their work-related software just as efficient, intuitive, and delightful as their employees find the other apps they use. You can create the most advanced piece of software in your industry, but if employees don’t like the way it “feels” when they use it, they won’t do their best and may constantly put-up resistance. That is why it is important to have HR involved to get input from team members as well as Marketing to help sell its value internally to workers.
Automation to Strengthen the Employee Experience
The right types of workplace automation can strengthen the overall employee experience and help businesses meet their strategic goals. As more organizations integrate AI and machine learning into their processes, the result is a less-siloed workplace where workers can more easily collaborate and contribute.
Since our organization has always focused on innovation and automation a concern sometimes presented by workers in organizations has always been that these technologies eliminate the need for human employment. Automation lets workers concentrate on high-value work that benefits from human effort, which can result in a significant benefit to business growth and revenue. The more you are using your mind to its potential, the happier your team members will feel with their success. So, while automation does reduce some work tasks or jobs, it reinvents others, helping companies’ trim manual repetition, avoid redundancy, and ensure team members are feeling accomplishment with their work.
Where We’re Headed
We went from an era where people were fearful of being laid off to where almost half of the work force is job seeking. The factors causing it are burnout, remote working ability, and the number of open jobs. Workers are now walking of jobs and resigning in all industries where even monetary incentives are not appealing. We see the landscape change from the start of the pandemic where job security was vital and polarizing fear of unemployment to now where resignations and walking off jobs is common. The pandemic brought a different perspective. Working from home gave workers time to think reflect about their futures and importance of work life balance.
Team member engagement, flexibility and satisfaction will always be some of the biggest challenges an organization will face into the future. That remains just as true with a remote workforce as it does with an in-house one. Companies must find and invest in tech solutions that help all workers feel connected to their work, no matter where they’re doing it from and in learning and development of team members preparing workers for future. Workers want to have a purpose, flexibility, and companies must give them the learning and tools they need to help achieve business objectives.
After 18 months of business and personal upheaval, there is hope that a return to some sense of normalcy is on the horizon. But things will never go back to the way they were. Forward-looking organizations are now looking for new business models to help them and their workers thrive in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Their search can benefit from working with a trusted technology partner, one with years of driving innovation in remote working and can guide them in choosing the right digital tools. One who can redesign their workspace, enhance customer experiences, and improve employee experiences so that future crises, challenges, and rapid growth are successfully dealt with.