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The new future of work requires a data-driven approach to facilitate transformation

digital transformation
(Image credit: Future)

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a dramatic change, forcing organizations across all sectors to rapidly adapt all aspects of business to cope with the new normal. It was – and still is – an unprecedented time and businesses have been forced to adapt, at scale and with exceptional speed, as demand and operating constraints changed.

Most have managed this change extraordinarily well, with click and collect and home delivery services having been expanded dramatically in retail, healthcare services making much greater use of remote consultations, and businesses relying more heavily than ever on virtual home working with videoconferencing and other remote connectivity technologies.

Earlier this year, The Workforce Institute at UKG released research analyzing how nearly 4,000 employees and business leaders across the world felt about their employer’s initial Covid-19 response. This research – entitled “Hindsight 2020: Covid-19 Concerns into 2021," – found that just 42 percent of UK organizations were ready to manage through the start of the pandemic.

The world of work continues to be in a state of flux, which in turn demands a change in our use of technology to support and enable our workforces. This change has paved the way for a new future of work, and it is one that is driven by data-led transformation. We believe there are four key pillars to enabling a data-driven approach to transformation, which can be broken down as follows:


The Covid-19 pandemic has really hit home the need for organizations to protect their business, employees, their families, and their customers. In order to successfully manage such threats and risks, organizations must improve their agility and resilience, so as to take advantage of new opportunities and meet future challenges. It will also be essential for businesses to manage safety and hygiene issues more carefully than ever before. Agility, resilience, and safety must be engrained into the DNA of organizations moving forward with workforces, operating models, systems and processes all playing critical roles.

Digital workforce transformation will be essential here – manual processes, disparate solutions, and lack of flexibility in the workforce will impair adoption to change. Workforce management technology facilitates this protection through:

  • Enabling a truly holistic real-time view of available labor resources to make quick decisions
  • Reconfiguring solutions easily to adapt to new operating models and take advantage of new opportunities
  • Maintaining connectivity and communication with all staff
  • Careful planning, scheduling, wellness monitoring and contact tracing to protect employees and customers

Plan and execute

The key to effective planning and execution to control costs, improve productivity, and optimize revenues is the use of technology to automate workforce related processes, with real time data delivering the visibility and control required to ensure effective and efficient resource utilization. Organizations relying on manual or semi-automated processes will find them increasingly challenging, time consuming, and error prone. Data gathering via phone calls and management by spreadsheet and email will impair businesses’ ability to make good decisions fast, to optimize their labor usage and costs, and to react promptly to changes in customer demand or other circumstances.

The latest generation of cloud-based and mobile-enabled HCM and workforce management solutions deliver the data, control, and visibility needed to empower businesses to effectively plan, deploy, and manage their labor resources. This technology can enable businesses to:

  • Consider flexibility and the needs of employees, customers, and the business to create a balanced schedule that controls costs and performance
  • Capture time, activity, and productivity data in real time, from any and all locations
  • Use real-time labor analytics and reporting to drive performance and maintain compliance
  • Allow businesses to prioritize the management of all forms of absence and effectively address the causes of unplanned absence


The year 2020 saw the introduction of new workplace regulations directly related to controlling the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of these are likely to persist for some time, continuing in force alongside newly introduced regulations.

Organizations will therefore need to identify and explore the processes and technologies required to ensure the safety of all staff, customers, and other stakeholders. Such considerations will need to consider employees working from home and other locations, as well as on-site staff. What hours are they working? How are they feeling? Are they taking appropriate breaks?

A data-driven approach to these elements of compliance will:

  • Allow a workforce system configuration to adherence to relevant employment legislation and agreements, without the need for complex user intervention
  • Help to build work schedules that maintain the safety of employees and customers, while meeting emerging guidelines and rules
  • Enable proactive management of employee training and certifications
  • Assist in monitoring employee wellbeing through always-on surveys


Building engagement through trust and transparency to improve the employee experience has never been more important. This will be key to attracting and retaining the best employees and vital to any organization wanting to build and maintain a brand representing a strong social and cultural ethos.

Workforce management technologies assist in this engagement in a variety of ways such as:

  • Connected employees will have increased team engagement which will result in reduced isolation
  • Mobile based self-service tools empower employees to take control of their working lives and manage their own work/life balance
  • Real-time visibility of employee presence, activity and productivity mean managers no longer need to micro-manage their team and employees feel valued and empowered to do their work
  • Intelligent scheduling tools enable managers to take a personalized approach to employee needs, preferences and training

Data-driven transformation holds the key

The ready availability of accurate, real time information is essential in enabling leaders to make the right decisions, quickly. Businesses can only manage risks, control costs, and exploit new revenue opportunities effectively with visibility, control and flexibility, across both the workforce and the systems used to manage it.

Those that embrace new technologies, update processes and adopt a holistic, human-centric approach to workforce management, will enjoy increased resilience in future crises, and the ability to pivot swiftly to capitalize on emerging opportunities before competitors do.

Peter Harte, Vice president, Enterprise, EMEA, UKG (opens in new tab)

Peter Harte, Vice President, Enterprise, EMEA, UKG.