Long before spare bedrooms, garages, and dining rooms began turning into workplaces en masse, the idea of remote work was seducing the world. Over the years, countless companies have started to consider the various advantages of mobility and the “work anywhere” landscape.
The mass migration towards the work-from-home routine that started with COVID-19 means that anywhere working is more than just a possibility; it’s a normal part of professional life. Throughout this transformative time in global history, we’ve seen countless companies adapt at an incredible pace.
Even as companies begin the return to work, we’re operating in a new way, with fewer people in the office, more screens, and hybrid models of work. Of course, all of these changes come with costs and challenges to consider too.
Here, we’ll discuss the new world of work and the key themes businesses need to address.
Theme 1: Finance
Cash and financial management are always going to be crucial components in running a business. Right now, however, companies are under more pressure than ever to get their finances right. With further restrictions in place and on the horizon, businesses have felt the squeeze. We have already seen a big impact on average salaries in many areas. Hospitality, travel and the high street are, particularly under threat.
The government introduced a scheme to support the hospitality sector, but for many, this may not be enough. The tourism and travel industry is also struggling, with weekly additions to locations on the quarantine list. Businesses need a way of improving their liquidity to survive in the short-term.
Reducing expenses, revising redundant assets, and following other strategies will be essential. Businesses will need to consider:
- Reducing cash outflows by cutting services and contracts
- Becoming faster on collections and payments
- Introducing cash flow KPI options for reporting and targeting
- Optimising order-to-cash and procure-to-pay procedures
- Selling or leasing hardware IT assets
According to Deloitte and PWC, two-thirds of CFOs are expecting capital expenditure to decrease in the next 3 years following the pandemic. 79% of CFOs are still planning on taking aggressive cost-containment measures. However, businesses will also need to make sure that they’re considering total cost of ownership when weighing potential infrastructure options for a remote future.
Theme 2: Automation, AI, and the impact on the workforce
It’s a crucial time for companies of all sizes to begin investing more time and effort into innovation. After the first outlay, investment into automation can expand resource opportunities for allocation elsewhere. This will help businesses to become more competitive.
In our CIO watercooler discussion, Ade McCormack said that in digital marketplaces, the value proposition we have as humans is a unique ability to implement cognitive capacity into tasks and challenges. Employers must create environments that permit them to harvest as much mental capacity as possible. From a human perspective, this requires development, and the use of other skills, such as resilience, flexibility, openness to change, and curiosity.
Automation in the new era means providing easier access to knowledge for not just consumption, but also interpretation and innovation. Companies need to develop businesses that can thrive in a digital age, which means empowering human employees, and finding supplementary solutions.
Automation and AI in the new business landscape will support employees in finding their perfect point of productivity. Companies that resist change and refuse to help staff members discover the benefits of new technology will find themselves falling behind.
Theme 3: Cloud technology
The cloud is another major theme that’s transforming the landscape today. This technology plays a crucial role in allowing for remote working and supporting businesses through continuity in the face of unpredictable events.
Just as organisations have gradually moved towards the work from home model, they’ve also been shifting more significantly into the cloud. The movement into cloud largely comes from a desire to minimise operating costs, scale services up and down according to need, and connect a disparate workforce. Cloud technology also means companies can easily gain access to emerging capabilities and features.
The shift to cloud will accelerate in the years ahead, as 64.8% of organisations, and 77.8% of those with the highest ROI for their collaborative environments, say they’re more likely to use cloud services to support working from home since the pandemic, according to Nemertes.
For several years now, organisations have been shifting their communication platforms into the cloud, embracing UCaaS for integrated team messaging, calling, and video meetings. More than 35% of organisations today are using UCaaS, an increase from 19.1% in 2019.
Theme 4: Employee engagement
Employee engagement is a significant concern in the current landscape, and an issue highlighted by the recent study from Workable.
When asked what they think a significant challenge could be for a remote working environment, 73.2% of respondents highlighted individual employee motivation and engagement. Engagement focuses significantly on communications and synchronisation, with around 54.5% of respondents planning virtual team meetings, and 52.8% planning to incorporate more communication tech.
Despite the concerns that many companies have about employees working remotely, there’s very little emphasis on upskilling and retraining employees for remote work. Companies seem to be more focused on connectivity. Participants in a recent roundtable hosted by RingCentral reflected that despite the growing demand for remote working, not all employees are enjoying the experience.
Working from home has a lot of benefits, but it can also be overwhelming. Alongside feelings of general disconnect from the company, employees are also dealing with countless back-to-back calls that seem to progress well into the evening. There’s also the threat of feeling isolated or uninformed about what’s going on in the organisation.
Adapting to the new world of work
Surviving in this new complex working landscape means finding the right way to properly empower employees and serve customers. As valuable as the work anywhere landscape can be, it’s important to remember that every significant change comes with challenges to consider.
Companies have done surprisingly well making the shift into a remote landscape in such a short space of time this year. However, there are still steps to take, and there’s a lot of progress to be made. Preparing for the future with a focus on the themes above will help your organisation to stay ahead of the curve.
Originally published Oct 06, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023