With the dawning of the concluding year of this decade, the ‘workplace agility’ was focussed as it has been disrupted by the technological advances. Digitalization injected transformation in the workplace, but the other greater cause seemed unimaginable then. A virus, one deadly microbe can induce magnanimous transformation in the workplace and also anything that comes in its way. Industries, businesses, agility, human lives, rather the whole existence is at stake due to the pandemic Coronavirus or COVID-19. The unstable landscape calls for some strict measures to retain workplace agility. Businesses and organizations are investing in full efforts to cope up with the waxing wave of disruptions.
The workplace agility seems to be the prime concern of many businesses. The pandemic COVID-19 might not be the last one of its kind. We must all brace ourselves for the situations that may arise in future. The pandemic has a ripple effect that holds a strong possibility of existing in the coming times. The organizations are tested amidst the disruptions to determine how well they can retain their relevance in the changing times. The businesses must ensure that the strategies cater to changing consumer behaviour and also the employee experience. A workplace is inclusive of the employers, employees, the rules, the business operations etc. So, all the areas influencing the Future of Work need to be paid close attention.
To get themselves prepared for the unforeseen situations in future, businesses are inclined towards inculcating workplace agility, by fostering adaptability and fresh perspective, by retaining relevance with the changing consumer base, and nurturing a positive work culture. Let us get a better view of the situation in the following few lines.
What is Workplace Agility?
Workplace agility refers to the steps taken by any organization or business to enhance its adaptability. The businesses must be creative and flexible to be in sync with the changing times. Agile workplace or workforce reacts quickly to disruptions, opportunities or threats. The threats can be external, for example, steep competition, and also internal, i.e. failing operations and organizational conflicts.
Some characteristics of Workplace Agility may include:
- Customer-centric business models
- Ability to restructure and reshape as per the changing needs
- Building well-coordinated teams, dynamic, niche-skilled workforce
- Responding collectively to threats and obstructions
- Fostering a collaborative, flexible adaptive work culture
- Managing well-organized business systems and operations
- Not getting bogged down by failures, rather learn from mistakes
Major Trends in Workplace Agility
To achieve the goal of workplace agility, small and large scale businesses and gigs are making some newfound decisions. The traditional incumbents are compelled to come up with innovative ideas to sustain the volatile market conditions.
- Remote Working Mandates: With the pandemic hovering over human existence, everyone is afraid to exit the safety of their homes. Organizations are restricting essential business operations within the boundaries of the homes. The professional duties are fulfilled outside the employer’s premises, challenging the traits of employee monitoring. To what extent employees must be monitored, is a question that has raised brows of many, mainly the employees. Gartner reported that “32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure.” The Vice President of Gartner, Brian Kropp opined “It’s critical for business leaders to understand that large-scale shifts are changing how people work and how business gets done,” He also added that, “HR leaders who respond effectively can ensure their organizations stand out from competitors.” The employees are expected to retain agility while collaborating digitally and efficiently.
- Resilience over Efficiency: The uncertain times have challenged rigid work processes and businesses. Several business organizations were rigid about the workflow, employee efficiency, streamlining the supply chain, in short, a more traditional approach. This mode sustained the pre-COVID era hardly, as it was inclusive of stress mismanagement, lack of flexibility to cope up with sudden changes and disruptions. The resilient approach is better to respond effectively to the uncertainties. The resilient approach is more employee-centric, aiming to elevate the employee experience. Virtual training sessions and preference of flexible cross-functional roles can motivate the employees, leading to agility in the workflow. The organizations must take into consideration the diverse needs and backgrounds of all employees involved before formalizing the procedures.
- Higher Stress in Remote Working: Employees around the world, from diverse industries and domains, have expressed their increased stress levels due to the remote working. The work from home situation is new to many organizations, and time is needed to adapt to the ‘new normal’. Giants like Microsoft, MasterCard, Twitter, Facebook have embraced the changes, retaining the remote working for good. But, on the other hand, many organizations are finding it difficult. Rigorous employee monitoring and subtracting flexibility from business operations will just make the matter worse. Many organizations have been considerate of the employee benefits and prioritized their professional and mental well being. But there are some who lack humanitarian approach, for them, the workforce is “employee first” and “people second”, as put forward by Gartner Research. The situation demands an outcome or project-based approach, and not effort based. “Changing demands and needs for the business have accelerated the shift from ‘Effort’ to ‘Outcome’ based performance management.”
- Enabling Consumer-centric business: “Ensure customers see you as invested in their long-term success, and not just a provider of short-term services. This idea goes beyond just your relationship with a customer; many of them are not entirely dependent on you to provide their IT services. Being agile means being able to suggest alternatives when you see a lagging piece in the value chain. In many cases, customers may not necessarily ask for help, so proactive engagement is critical here.” The consumer demands are changing, dependence on digital platforms and online sites is surging higher. They are reluctant to go out like before and invest in purchasing from offline stores. The businesses have to restructure and improve the user experience and be proactive with consumers. For example, delivery businesses of companies like Swiggy, Zomato have been adversely hit due to the pandemic. The users are hesitant to order food online due to the panic in their minds. The businesses, now, have to focus on elevating agility by including features to gain the trust of the consumers. The online food delivery apps are now promoting that their foods are safe, the staff is screened meticulously. These features are attracting the users more, now, and not the free delivery and hefty discounts. With time, consumer preference changing drastically, and businesses have to just adapt to the situations.
Workplace agility is the vision of many organizations. It has been months that the pandemic is wreaking havoc everywhere. The Future of Work is witnessing radical transformation accelerated by the pandemic. The organizations are experimenting with virtualizing operations and business procedures. While some are flexible and adaptive, some are struggling with the ‘new normal’.