This article is part of a series in which OECD experts and thought leaders — from around the world and all parts of society — address the COVID-19 crisis, discussing and developing solutions now and for the future. Aiming to foster the fruitful exchange of expertise and perspectives across fields to help us rise to this critical challenge, opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the OECD.
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As part of an OECD Forum series, the virtual event Empowering Workers, Delivering a Jobs-rich Recovery took place on 13 July 2021 —watch the replay below!
Anja Monrad is Senior Vice President & General Manager at Dell Technologies, CEE and member of the Board of Danish Management Society (VL)
We talk a lot about how technology needs to be agile—but if the events of 2020 tell us anything, so does humanity. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive, rapid pivot to remote working, a change that will have far-reaching implications not just for how we work now, but also in the future. And while we are still assessing how substantial that change will be, we are seeing how it is starting to take shape.
At the start of the pandemic, we saw companies quickly transform so staff could work from home and business could continue. Now, they are putting a greater emphasis on this pivot: going from “work from anywhere done light” to “remote operations done right”. In most cases, this means reprioritising tech investments to secure remote workforces, implementing tools to keep staff working productively from home and rethinking organisational processes that support employees throughout.
Some organisations, Dell Technologies included, have had strong remote working policies in place for many years, and during lockdowns we’ve seen productivity gains, a smaller carbon footprint and better work-life balance. Anecdotally there are already stories of workers taking advantage of remote working to move out of cities with expensive real estate.
All of this points organisations and governments towards ensuring that there are systems in place to change work from a place to an outcome. This is already applicable both from a technical and procedural standpoint. Now leadership styles need to follow.
Remote work is accelerating the decentralisation of decision making and organisational restructuring. Where people were working in offices under the watchful eyes of management, now they are being trusted to contribute and remain productive on their own. Some business leaders have noticed employees want to continue to enjoy the benefits of not commuting and working flexibly around their kids, while others are struggling to remain productive. Again, leaders need to reimagine work not as a place and time but an outcome, and take an individual approach to determine what works best for each team member.
Forward-thinking executives know that it’s an organisation’s focus on employee experience that will keep them ahead in the war for talent; and this experience, in turn, will largely be defined by technologies available to employees. The Work from Anywhere digital transformation today is far from complete.
Read the latest OECD Employment Outlook 2021: Navigating the COVID-19 crisis and recovery and find out more about the challenges of the crisis and the policies to address them
Natasha Friis Saxberg is the CEO of the Danish ICT Industry Association and member of Danish Management Association (VL)
We have spent the past century inventing and refining norms for organisations, leadership and collaboration—norms that suited the problems and technology of 100 years ago. But we are now facing new challenges, from a pandemic to climate change, which calls for us to evolve them.
This societal shift requires completely new skills and a new mindset for work, leadership and teams. We need to ensure equal access to digital skills, especially for “digitally vulnerable” citizens, so we don’t create a labour market with an A- and a B-team.
According to The World Economic Forum (WEF), by as early as 2025 technology will gain so much traction that machines and humans will spend equal amounts of time solving tasks. The consequence of this development will mean that over 85 million jobs will change in just five years, creating 97 new roles.
Read more on the Forum Network: "Beyond Target Groups: Reforming activation and transition support for all" by Jochem de Boer, Global Public Affairs Manager, World Employment Confederation
This will be a tectonic shift for the entire labour market, even for those employees who continue working in their normal jobs: 40% of them will need new skills just to keep pace with the workforce and new ways of working. These are three ways to create the foundation for a 21st century workforce:
Design for output
We need to build our teams around what they want to achieve; pre-COVID-19, most people focused on input. We must design organisations for success based on the output we desire, ensuring the right skills, working environment and mindset for the 21st century.
Encouraging employees and leaders to take the best from the virtual and physical workplaces will provide mobility and flexibility for the next decade. By living outside cities, people can swap travel time for more work and leisure.
21st century leadership
Leaders must be educated in this new era of work. From new ways of collaboration to innovative digital skills, these are the qualities to promote in our leaders rather than expertise alone.
These are some of the pillars for the future of work, where we will measure success based on output, employee experience and customer satisfaction. We will never be able to go back, so we need to find the new path to balance profit and sustainability in a workplace fit for the 21st century.
For further information please contact:
Danish Management Society (VL)
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