7 key pillars for designing the future model of working

01 February 2022 Consultancy.com.au 5 min. read
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The disruption caused by Covid-19 – including digitisation and remote working – has influenced the ways in which companies need to operate in the future. So what should organisations do to successfully reinvent their future ways of working? Experts from management consultancy Whiteark outline seven key areas that need to be considered.

Work models

When crafting their future ways of working, it is important that organisations assess their value chain from end to end and explore new working models that will deliver business needs. Companies need to embed flexible models that support remote readiness as appropriate for each role and individual/team. 

Some roles will require ongoing physical presence, some will require a hybrid model and others could be completely remote.

BCG’s Remote readiness matrix

Boston Consulting Group uses a matrix for determining which roles are ready for remote working based on two dimensions – type of work (ranging from routinised to creative) and level of collaboration (ranging from independent to collaborative). 

The new work model that you decide to adopt needs to ensure that it sustains morale, creativity, and productivity. Focusing on desired outcomes and outputs serve as success measures so it is important to set these for each role/team ensuring that there is a controlled and experimental approach to determine what drives productivity. 

Inputs must be altered accordingly, and the resulting outputs measured. Other elements that drive productivity are focus, engagement, connection and involvement in diverse networks.

Leadership

Leaders of today need to be able to manage workforces that are dispersed across locations. Instead of focusing on supervising, leaders must set objectives, tasks, and enable teams that align to achieving company objectives. Since the acceleration of working remotely, the challenges of building cohesion, connection and identifying and resolving dysfunctional behaviours have become more prevalent for leaders. These responsibilities are consuming more of leaders’ time. 

Creating connection across the company, within the teams and for individuals is crucial in establishing a greater sense of purpose. Organisations must provide employees with opportunities to interact with one another through collaboration, training and development and social communication (virtually/physically). 

Each of these elements supports a more efficient and productive workforce by elevating the employee to thrive today and in future work models.

Ways of working

Businesses need to be nimble; they need to foster an agile approach to their ways of working by using adaptive tools and techniques to iterate and drive the most optimal outcome for the company. It is important to have alignment right across the organisation so that objectives can cascade down to the teams/individuals. 

Further reading: Create the right business culture to achieve business agility

Companies need to foster virtual collaboration and give their employees autonomy as they work towards achieving the desired outcomes. To ensure your employees remain engaged, meetings need short and purposeful.

Adaptability

Organisations need to be adaptable to build resilience. Adaptability is defined as the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions. Adaptability is an advantage in the harshly competitive global economy. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; the ability to spring back into shape; and elasticity.

The following areas that affect your ways of working need to be built into your adaptable strategies – health and wellbeing of employees, operating model and updating of policies and governance to support changes.

Talent models

Businesses that redesign their recruiting process and prerequisites will reap the benefits of access to a pool of human capital that would not have been considered pre-Covid-19. Businesses should leverage talent mobility and embrace sourcing across geographies to benefit from higher calibre and more diverse candidates.

In addition, organisations should offer learning and education programs to upskill existing employees to meet the business’ future requirements and help with retaining top talent. Organisations should also consider flexible labour models and look to hire contractors for shorter-term projects – this will ensure you have the required capability to successful complete a project. 

Workspaces

Since the pandemic, many companies commenced optimising their physical property portfolio to rethink their requirements from having a place for their employees to sit at to a place for their employees to connect. 

As the majority of employees transition to a hybrid model of telecommuting and a centralised office, companies need to redesign the workspace for employees to have purpose-built zones within the central office, for example, central office work zones, collaboration zones, social zones and wellness zones. Home office zones will need digital tools to make interaction seamless across space and time.

Further reading: Organisations should revisit their property strategy

Enablers

It is imperative that organisations invest in the tools and technology required to support the future ways of working including, digital workspace design, collaborative and remote working tools, cybersecurity, and data privacy. Equally important is to equip the organisation with the right skills by: promoting digital learning and upskilling to meet future requirements.