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future-proofing your work environment

How to approach future-proofing your work environment

Now, more than ever, companies are looking for ways to help ensure their work environments better reflect the needs of the modern employee in the ‘new normal’. Ian McAlister, General Manager at CRS Technologies, says a critical component of this is for human resources practitioners to rethink workforce and employee planning, management, performance and experience strategies.

Even though there are a myriad of strategies and tactical interventions at a company’s disposal to do this, the underlying theme centres on being less reliant on traditional roles and more focused on the skills required for a digitally transformed business that will contribute to it becoming future-proof.

“Employees must therefore be encouraged (by both human resources and their direct reports) to learn new skills that fit into these digital requirements. While some steps to change organisational behaviour can include embracing remote working at all levels, alternating employees at smaller offices using hot desks, and leveraging digital technologies in more innovative ways, the core is using technology as an enabler to deliver more rapid business value,” says McAlister.

Enhancing skills

To this end, companies must consider using technology to augment and not replace people.
“This fits in with the empowerment message that is permeating the South African workforce. With job losses a constant threat, business leaders must explore how technology can be used to bring more skills to existing employees, instead of finding ways to replace them with automation. After all, people will always be necessary to deliver the strategic insights that machine learning cannot provide on its own,” he adds.

Remote working will contribute to the transformation of talent management. With many employees, and the companies themselves preferring remote working, future-proofing the business will entail an element of delinking people from place. In other words, the office is no longer the only enabling environment to grow and nurture staff.
According to McAlister, it is now about recruiting talent globally, adopting new metrics for onboarding, promotion and leadership training, and better integrating human resources with the day-to-day operations of the business.

A soft touch

“Of course, these uncertain times require more than simply focusing on remote work and reskilling employees. Companies must also become more caring about the welfare of their people, no longer approaching employment on a ‘by-the-numbers’ system. Instead, it is about creating a corporate culture that reflects a renewed focus on purpose and ethics in a digital-centric world,” he says.

This means companies can no longer be tied to static structural strategies more focused on traditional approaches. They must be able to outmanoeuvre any future uncertainty by being fluid in their outlook – both short-term and long-term.

“This requires reassessing assumptions, re-evaluating scenarios, and adapting faster to current and potential future disruption. People will remain the dominant force in any organisation. By preparing fit-for-purpose plans that unlock all the value they can give, they can better evolve as heath and economic conditions change. While embracing digital technologies will be important in this regard, it comes down to changing mindsets as an instrumental first step in helping future-proof the business,” he concludes.

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