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New workforce, new strategy

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By CHARLES BARRATT, principal business solutions architect, EMEA EUC strategic accounts, VMware

Companies are increasingly more aware of how valuable their employees are, as digital disruption rips through all industries in today’s competitive market. Understanding how empowering your workforce can have a positive impact on business growth will be key to survival. In fact, according to Forbes, 78% say they are seeing more sales and revenue as a result of their digital empowerment efforts for employees.

So how can we create the ultimate workforce? The rule or power of three suggests that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying and/or more powerful. Take for example, the three little pigs in fairytales, the Holy Trinity or scoring a hat trick in football. What if we applied this concept to how we approach empowering our employees?

In a new report from IDC ‘Becoming “Future of Work” Ready: Follow the Leaders’, there are three pillars that underpin the foundation of digital success. These are culture, workspace and workforce. Only the organisations that adopt this business mantra and are agile enough to innovate against a challenging market landscape will disrupt and survive. The rest, those that cannot adapt to global changing working practices, will eventually wither.

Each pillar on its own will drive incremental change but only together will organisations truly achieve the desired impact of transforming the business to compete in the era of digital.

Culture

An organisation’s culture can often be its biggest asset – would Netflix have emerged as a poster child of digital disruption had it not turned the traditional view of corporate culture on its head by empowering employees and asking people to take on the responsibility of policing themselves?

But conversely, when unattended to, an organisation’s culture takes on a life of its own, often deviating further and further from its intended goal. Not only do unhealthy cultures demoralise employees; they alienate customers, ruin reputations, and destroy value.

Businesses that fail to create a culture of trust and openness, whereby employees have access to the right tools to be agile and productive, will result in a workforce with little to no motivation to change the way things are done, directed by a “command and control” approach to working life. By instilling a culture of fairness all the way from the board to front line staff, you’ll see a positive impact in turnover, output and employee satisfaction. In our own research, empowered employees are defined as those who are granted greater access to the applications they prefer and need to do their job, and are almost five times more likely to report gains in their productivity.

By empowering employees, companies will see a shift to businesses powered by employee initiative and management trust.

This rebalancing gives frontline employees the tools and the mindset freedom they need to innovate and execute. It’s a cultural change that ultimately becomes a decisive competitive differentiator.

Workspace

Work is increasingly seen as an activity rather than a location. The concept of a ‘9 to 5’ job is perhaps no longer the norm with employees not wanting to feel chained to their desks for seven hours a day. Instead, they want the flexibility of being able to work when and where they feel most productive.

In doing so, organisations need to recognise the power technology can have to transform their digital workspace – where ‘collaborative hubs’ emerge alongside flexible working policies in the corporate world, and voice-enabled apps and Artificial Intelligence-driven tools help workers collaborate wherever they may be.

However, with these innovations come increase security risks. As more traditional working hours and policies become obsolete, ‘borderless organisations’ start to emerge which can cause concern for IT security teams.

Past designs of security infrastructure are no longer relevant as new working environments result in back and forth data flows between multiple devices across the world. So, it’s no surprise that in IDC’s report, digital security is the #1 initiative businesses are looking at when considering their approach to a new working strategy. Securing the digital workspace requires security capabilities to be built in at every level – users, apps, endpoints and the network, which is all achievable through software.

Workforce

The final pillar that makes up the foundation of digital success is your workforce. The makeup and nature of the workforce are radically evolving. On the one hand, demographic shifts are impacting the size, age and diversity of the workforce; on the other hand, intelligent technologies are augmenting and automating work while creating new opportunities for value creation within organisations.

Intelligent technologies will provide new levels of productivity, accuracy and business intelligence. This allows employees to learn and improve from mistakes – where the workforce has the ability to fail, recover, and try again – a key component of successful organisations.

Creating a truly effective digital workspace requires a relentless focus on employee experience that ensures greater freedom of choice.

Putting the three pillars into practice

Bringing together these three pillars into the foundation of your business will give you the platform architecture, management and security capabilities, and experience-centric approach that are needed for the new world of work.

Changing working practices, and the strategy required to do that is not a simple process. It requires time and investment and there will be hurdles and setbacks along the way. Businesses who persevere with this approach will reap the rewards of a more user-centric experience across its customers, employees and business.

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