When technology analyst Gartner asked business leaders how they envisaged the post-pandemic work landscape, 82% said they would allow remote working some of the time and 47% said that they would let employees work remotely all the time.
The exact proportions will vary company by company – but what is clear is that the widespread shift to a more digital way of working which has been accelerated by COVID-19 means that the nature of work will continue to change dramatically; so will the workforce, so will the workplace.
It now seems inevitable that there will be a more hybrid workplace that melds the virtual and the physical - home and office. Workers will need to be adept in using digital technologies, and somewhat more self-sufficient in terms of managing their technology and directing their professional development.
Successful leaders meanwhile need to find ways to encourage the best from their people and to resist the urge to micro-manage.
Iress chief technology officer Andrew Todd says; "The fundamentals of good leadership will not change. Challenges will present in new and different ways, and this might change how and where leaders focus. Leaders will need to enhance their ability to connect with their people. Clarity of strategy, messaging, and ensuring alignment across teams will be more important than ever."
When it comes to finding the digital skills that underpin the business, Todd stresses that; "This is not only about aptitude which is clearly important for an engineer as well as being analytical. But some of the most important attributes are cultural as well – how to communicate, it is important teams can generate solutions - one or two people solving complex problems – we're over that.
"When you get to scale and global scale you need people that can work together, communicate, collaborate and organise. Having a diverse background and culture help that."
The best results he says comes from finding those people, ensuring they are properly resourced, and then having strong leaders set the direction for the entire enterprise.
Todd says; "Those in leadership roles must lead, not simply be the manager. Leaders must be able to focus themselves and their people on outcomes rather than activity, and while this is one of the fundamentals of good leadership, a lack of strength here will become visible in a remote-first environment. Those that micro-manage, have led a low-trust environment, or use a heavy 'gating' process to get things done will suffer.
"Essentially, leaders create propositions and must market and sell and deliver those propositions."
One of the propositions from Iress's own leaders is to work with industry partners to pioneer new pathways to expand the skills base – including encouraging technology apprenticeships.
Along with REA Group, SEEK, MYOB, Slack and Catapult, Iress has signed an in-principle agreement calling for a new IT apprenticeship scheme to be developed for Australia. Modelled on Iress' UK experience where it has taken on people through an apprenticeship scheme, teaching tech skills on the job. It's a new and important stream of skills says IRESS.
Todd says that the UK experience has been very positive both for Iress and the apprentices, and he is hopeful that something similar can be established in Australia. "Bringing new talent into the industry is important so that we can build, mould and develop people for the organisation and the industry."
What skills do you need? Are you interested in learning more about the IT apprenticeships?