The digital imperative we are currently experiencing with the shift to a "work from anywhere environment" needs to meet the needs of employees across industries and roles for a better future of work experience. This means incorporating tools that allow for personalization to meet unique business needs, less complexity for so less time is spent on technical needs, and allowing people to complete tasks more quickly so they can be as efficient as possible.
Salesforce surveyed over 20,000 global citizens to uncover their attitudes and perceptions around the state of our world and the future of work as a result of COVID-19. The report is titled The Global Stakeholder Series: Future of Work, Now. The data was weighted by age, gender, income, and education to reflect the national representation of citizens in each country.
Here are some of the key takeaways of the report:
The state of the world
- 84% of people believe income equality is not improving.
- 63% believe the role of technology in society is improving
- Only 20% believe that access to job opportunities are improving
- Only 33% believe gender quality is improving
- Only 27% believe access to education is improving
- Only 16% believe income equality is improving
- Only 21% believe race equality is improving
- Only 31% of access to healthcare is improving
The pandemic has created and also accelerated several crises for all. We are all experiencing the pandemic, but none of us are experiencing the pandemic the same way. The state of world response above speaks to a health crisis, economic crisis, racial inequality and injustice crisis, climate crisis, large dissemination of misinformation, and lack of senior leadership crisis. All of this means we are all facing a trust deficit crisis. Can companies use technology to improve the state of the world? The answer is yes but the solution cannot be technology alone. Business can be the greatest platform for change. But the first step in terms of using digital transformation to improve the human experience is about values. Values can create value if your guiding principles and core beliefs are aimed at establishing trust. Trust must be your company's number one value. Trust is competency (capability and reliability) and character (integrity and benevolence). In my opinion, this starts with gaining the trust and commitment of your employees. You cannot expect customers to love your company before your employees do.
Work from anywhere revolution
Sixty percent of people believe that work will become the norm. However, 74% believe remote work is only available to a select few. Over one-third of workers say they do not have the technology to effectively work remote. So what will the future workplace look like?
- 92% say creativity will be an important skill over the next 6 months
- 90% say empathy will be an important skill over the next 6 months
- 85% say inclusion will be an important skill over the next 6 months
Work from home -- aka WFH -- should give employees their autonomy, not extend the company's authority into their private space. It should also give the company the opportunity to discontinue the use of the word "remote." Let's re-brand WFH to "Working From Here."
There was a need to address the growing skills-gap before COVID-19. Work from home (WFH) transitions (or work from here), loss of manual labor jobs, a looming recession, and an increased focus on efficient use of technology (especially data) present both unique challenges but also unique opportunities to outline and adapt new skills -- and this was before addressing the already elephant in the room: Big Data/AI/the autonomous revolution. Learning in the 21st century is no longer a nice to have but a requirement of relevancy (the average half-life of a job skill is around 5 years). As businesses come back online in this "next normal," giving employees the skills needed to meet these challenges and take advantage of their unique opportunities is now more important than ever.
Technology To Facilitate Expanding Skill Sets
- 66% say they don't have in-demand skills
- 65% wish they had access to free technical training
- Nearly 50% say they are more interested in online learning/training since COVID-19
- 65% of Millennials say they are more interested in online learning/training since COVID-19
- 62% wish they had access to free business training
- 64% wish they have access to free training to pursue their passions
McKinsey research shows an unprecedented rate of adoption of digital technologies, like 10 years of e-commerce adoption in the past three years. In addition, there is a shock to brand loyalty, as 75% of Americans have switched brands in the pandemic. The accelerated adoption of new and emerging technologies will require companies to increase their focus on employee training and re-skilling.
- 82% say coding/web app development is an important skill over the next six months
- 70% say workforce development must be a high priority for businesses, and 70% say technology should play a major role in that
- 95% say adaptability and 93% say collaboration will be important skills over the next 6 months
What can businesses do to best position themselves in a digital economy post-COVID-19 pandemic? Employee education and reskilling is arguably the most critical success factor in the Next Normal. There was a need to address the growing skills-gap before COVID-19. Work from home (WFH) transitions (or work from here), loss of manual labor jobs, a looming recession, and an increased focus on efficient use of technology (especially data) present both unique challenges but also unique opportunities to outline and adapt new skills. As businesses come back online in this "next normal," giving employees the skills needed to meet these challenges and take advantage of their unique opportunities is now more important than ever.
Success in the next normal starts with employee education and reskilling What can businesses do to best position themselves in a digital economy post-COVID-19 pandemic? Employee education and reskilling is arguably the most critical success factor in the Next Normal. The company of the future will be like an autonomous spaceship or car. It will be powered by AI and other digital technologies to increase speed and relevance of the company to customer needs. It will free us from clerical and other repetitive tasks that, frankly, we're not very good at, and it will help us make better, faster decisions and take better, faster actions. It will force us, in a good way, to refocus on our unique qualities, like our abilities to imagine and create brand new products, experiences, solutions, and other forms of value, and our ability to have empathy for others and to build relationships of trust with them.
Flexible, Adaptable Collaboration is The Future
- 95% say adaptability will be an important skill in the next 6 months
- 93% say collaboration will be an important skill in the next 6 months
- Re-skilling: Nearly 50% say they are more interested in online learning/training since COVID-19
- Workforce development: 65% say workforce development must be a high priority for businesses, and 70% say technology should play a major role in workforce development
An important business lesson in 2020 is that for some, work is not a place. In a decentralized and digital-only work environment, workers who do not have physical location dependencies associated with their job responsibilities should have the ability to work from anywhere.
In the next normal, going back to work is not going to work. The COVID-19 virus and our reaction to it have accelerated an emerging shift in our conventional ways of doing things. Companies that return to the old ways without understanding that shift are likely to fail. The Next Normal is vastly different than the normal before the pandemic.
The shift from a centralized defense model to a distributed and containment model in managing a pandemic has highlighted the level of preparedness for businesses to function in a world that is highly distributed and digitally enabled. Before the pandemic, most businesses had a significant business and cultural blind-spots in terms of the power of decentralization. Companies recognized the importance of speed to value but they did not realize that the path to optimal speed is a function of designing their organizations and overall business for movement. The reason Salesforce was able to implement a work from anywhere policy and move more than 50,000 of their employees to work from home at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 was that adoption of a cloud-first mindset is designing for movement. Companies with a cloud-first application adoption philosophy can adapt to stakeholder experience changes faster than the traditional 'on-premise' solution adopters. The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation programs because of the most important 2020 business lesson: every company must be a digital company.
Working from anywhere will lead to a more sustainable future. The ability to work from anywhere will benefit all stakeholders -- employees, customers, business partners, our communities, and our planet. The UN (United Nations) believes 14 of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals can be solved or advanced through virtual work. Living and working in a sustainable way is more than just good business. It can impact everything from socioeconomics to diversity to climate issues. A safe return to the workplace is very important to what will be a hybrid model for future of work -- ability to work from anywhere, including work offices and the home office. Trailblazer companies are using technology to create the safest possible office workplace conditions to meet new workplace challenges like shift management, manual contact tracing, stakeholder education, and health management and emergency response data-driven and automated workflow capabilities.
To learn more about the Salesforce survey of over 20,000 global citizens and their attitudes and perceptions around the state of our world and the future of work as a result of COVID-19, you can review The Global Stakeholder Series: Future of Work, Now.