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How to make your business fit for the future of work

(Image credit: Image Credit: Coffee / Pixabay)

The future of work is here. Thanks to increased digitisation, the rise of digital natives and productivity pressures, the modern workforce needs a new approach to the day job. Yet more often than not businesses still lack an overall strategy to manage the business of work. This is resulting in a workforce that is becoming increasingly frustrated with spending too many hours on small, unfulfilling tasks that aren’t getting them anywhere.

Workfront’s recent State of Work 2020 report found that UK workers are spending 31 per cent of their working week on excessive emails, interruptions and wasteful meetings. That led them to rank meaningless tasks as the number one thing keeping them from feeling fulfilled and productive at work.

This is a crucial moment for business leaders. We’ve already moved beyond the need for just ‘future-proofing’. It’s now time for organisations to completely reimagine the state of work and respond to this new way of working for the next generation. If not, they risk losing out to their competitors, for both growth and the ability to retain talent from every generation.

This means a real shift towards systems that provide a better way of working for their teams. While we have seen many new workplace tools emerge in recent years to address team collaboration, resource management, project planning and organisation, insights from the State of Work 2020 report indicate that knowledge workers around the world are still searching for a better solution to the work challenges they’re facing. The report highlighted that 90 per cent of UK workers are still craving modern technology options and 76 per cent wish they had one centralised place to see all work across their company.

Building a modern workplace

By procuring multiple tech options that don’t fulfil the real need across an enterprise, or not giving their teams a clear view of what the whole company is working towards, organisations are only making work more complicated. Instead of building an agile work environment this is simply leading to more applications to manage every day and creating unfulfilled teams operating in ever more siloed, complex ways of working. 

Instead, we need to look at work in a completely new way. To improve cross-team communication and keep progress on track, enterprises should adopt connected technology that scales their whole business—such as a modern work management solution.

With the use of operational business-wide software, mundane things like progress reports and status updates will be instantly shared across one single platform with all the right team members. Insights will be served proactively, rather than stored away, providing company-wide information that can move an organisation forward, towards a better way of working.

This will lead to a working day which contains far fewer (yet more meaningful) meetings, less distractions and the opportunity for workers to complete fulfilling, engaging work that drives the company’s strategy forward.

Embracing the future of work

Technology provides part of the solution, but the human element of the future of work is critical. Therefore engaging your workforce and driving adoption of this new approach is imperative. From working with thousands of companies through their modern work transformations, we’ve identified four fundamental attributes that are shared by the enterprises who are ready for the future of work. To ensure the modern requirements for work become a competitive advantage rather than a barrier to success, focus on these things:

1. Start with visibility and context

Actively communicate company strategy through all your departments, teams, and to each person in your organisation. Make sure strategy at all levels of your organisation is well-defined, informed by data, and clearly communicated. Therefore workers, along with executives, have visibility into what exactly your company strives to achieve. Most importantly, make sure each person understands the role they play in company achievement. Maintaining that continuous connection demonstrates resilient leadership and encourages an open company culture.

2. Actively manage work

Put relentless pressure on work performance while simultaneously creating a culture that is positive, open, and honest. Do this by using data to align and make decisions about products, teams and projects. Strive for excellence in resource management by making decisions based on real-time data rather than assumptions. In companies that achieve this, people and teams operate with confidence, not fear, leading to growth and success.

3. Deploy technology to help your team get work done

Support your people with the applications and systems they need to get the job done and stay fulfilled at work. This can be anything from instant messaging to product design tools or the latest creative suite. Importantly, future-fit organisations make sure they also put in place a digital backbone that ties together individual tools into an orchestrated whole. Supporting agile work processes and capturing information provides visibility and context. Adopting work management will drive technology strategy and the company’s vision.

4. Embrace agility and nimbleness

Display exceptional levels of organisational agility to be ready for future success. Rather than simply making existing work easier or more fluid, take on a more dynamic approach instead. Work across departmental teams, adapt more frequently, empower new leaders, and redeploy them at the individual, team, or even organisational level to drive new market opportunities.

These attributes all point to businesses that view work – its people, the way in which they work and the intellectual property they create – as a critical business asset, not just a means to an end. More than anything, these businesses put people, and helping individuals get their best work done, front and centre. They do this by embracing collaboration, visibility, and the ability to actively manage work through new technology. Any business that takes this approach to the future of work will find they can turn pressure into opportunity, and move faster, while simultaneously anticipating, and even driving, industry change.

Jada Balster, Vice President of Marketing, Workfront (opens in new tab)

Jada Balster the Vice President of Marketing at Workfront.