by Madan Panathula
Organisations across the globe are in the process of reinventing themselves to stay relevant in the digital age. They now see sense in the adage, ‘change or perish’. While a lot of focus is given to reinventing business models and process to be digitally ready, organisations are yet to fully decipher the talent puzzle of the digital world. However, a few pioneers are starting to define a modern workplace that will be ready for the digital age. Based on our experience of working with such pioneers, our interactions with today’s modern workforce, and our approach to digital, we present the following six characteristics that form the cornerstone of a digitally ready Modern Workplace.
This is one area where many organisations have a head start, as they are already becoming inclusive. But today, diversity in the workplace itself has become diverse in its meaning. Diversity in the modern workplace includes: Generational, Gender-based, Ability-based, Racial, Cultural, Religious, and Political. Diversity brings with itself richer perspectives, and a successful team must facilitate the merging of these differences to open avenues for organisational success.
As a consequence of the digital disruption, organisational boundaries will fade owing to greater interaction among very diverse people. Another impact of the digital disruption is the diverse talent needs it puts forth for organizations.
A digitally ready modern workplace can successfully leverage this diversity by using it to promote innovation and collaboration to meet the challenges of digital disruption.
The age of standardisation seems to be coming to an end, and the new generation is viewing work in a different light. Today’s generation is agile and cross-skilled. They no longer want rigid roles that confine them to fixed responsibilities, timings and areas of experimentation. Therefore, organisations must be flexible in terms of their roles for these new age employees.
In the not so far future, digital will make the concept of work very fluid and 9 to 5’ jobs will become archaic. To tap into this fluidity, organisational processes must become nimble and flexible.
A digitally ready workplace is one that promotes this flexibility by providing avenues to its people to leverage their strengths and capacities and further channelling these to meet digital needs of the organization.
Digital disruptions will force organisations to fundamentally transform the way they do their business. Business models and value propositions are set to change dramatically in the face of digital disruption. Digitally modern organisations will be able to successfully weather this disruption by promoting entrepreneurship (intrapreneurship) internally.
Promoting intrapreneurship and giving cushion for failures will enable organisations to continually transform themselves and meet the challenges of digital disruption. A digitally ready modern workplace will allow for active experimentation, where people are inspired to create and own their ideas. An appetite for taking calculated risks and experimentation will ensure that an organisation and its business never suffer the reality of Moore’s law in the face of digital disruption.
This characteristic is closely related to ‘diversity’. If the last generation was about competition, this one is about collaboration. Numerous successful ventures like wikipedia have proven how collaboration is the key to organisational success in the digital world and the importance of channelling it for organisational value creation.
Team structures, decision making, planning, execution and the entire related chain of activities should become social and collaborative. A modern workplace is one that encourages cross-pollination of ideas among various teams and function.
The importance of such collaboration and socialisation of work will enable organisations to meet the challenge of the external environment as it becomes increasingly complex owing to digital disruptions.
5. Digital Talent Building
Though digital has become an imperative and organisations are going full steam with digital strategies, the same sense of urgency is not displayed when engaging with the internal talent. The talent in a modern workplace must be digitally-enabled. This enablement will allow employees to work from anywhere, anytime, encourage collaboration and utilize data more effectively.
The disruptions caused by digital will necessitate an organisation to continually innovate and make transformational changes to stay relevant to its customers. A digitally ready modern workplace will be able to meet these digital needs by not only equipping their talent with the technological capabilities but also with capacities to transform business models and value, organisational innovation and change.
Another major cause of the digital disruption are the PESTLE changes, of which, the most important changes are the social and environmental. Organisations can no longer be money making machines. The ones that thrive in the future are the ones that excel in ‘Triple Bottom Line’. The consumer now has heightened awareness and wants to buy from a socially responsible and environmentally friendly company.
A digitally ready modern workplace would have to extend this a step further and include its assets i.e. their employees in the circle of care. This could be displayed by, encouraging different modes of work to ensure work-life balance, a set of meaningful benefits, support, and an empathetic culture.
A modern workplace operates in an environment with freely accessible knowledge, lower entry barriers and an empowered consumer base. Hence, their only competitive advantage is its people. So, it does make sense to value them and create an inclusive workplace.
However, while doing so, the impact and disruption caused by digital must also be considered, or else the modern organisation will remain a half-baked cake. As Darwin had rightfully said a century ago, “it is the fittest that survive” and this holds very true in today’s digital world.