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Future of Work: Remote and Hybrid Workforce in Design and Technology

In the post pandemic future of work, nine out of ten organizations will be combining remote and on-site working, according to a new McKinsey survey of 100 executives across industries and geographies. The survey confirms that productivity and customer satisfaction have increased during the pandemic.

Despite the embrace of a hybrid model, though, most organizations have only begun to think through and articulate the specifics of how to carry out a more permanent mix of remote and on-site working for all roles that aren’t essential to perform presentially. 

Many of their employees are feeling anxious as a result. The sustainability of pandemic-style productivity gains, might well depend on how organizational leaders address the anxiety their employees feel—and the associated levels of burnout, adds McKinsey.

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Trillions of Dollars invested in Technologies and Services

Nevertheless, the global annual spending on technologies and services is about to hit a whopping $2.3 trillion as forecasted, according to the IDC Worldwide Semiannual Digital Transformation Spending Guide. 

The spending on digital transformation (DX) is at an estimated compound annual growth rate of 17.1% for a period of five years (2019-23). 

In the post-digital world, along with digital realities, related products and services will be hyper-personalized. 

And to decipher that, a technology vision that meets the needs of constantly changing on-demand experiences will be required.

Read also: UX Writing is at the Core of Every Digital Product

Survey results points to the following future of work trends:

Gartner surveyed 400+ HR leaders and 300+ finance leaders, and spoke with more than 4,000 employees and HR executives to identify the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of work and the implications business leaders should anticipate for their organization. Here are some trends they have found:

  • More remote workers; 
  • Increased use of employee data; 
  • greater role of the employer as a social safety net; 
  • wider use of contingent workers in the new gig economy; 
  • critical skills no longer being synonymous with roles; 
  • some finding works more humanizing; 
  • others finding it dehumanizing; 
  • a focus on crisis response as it distinguishes top-tier employer brands; 
  • prioritizing resilience as much as efficiency; and 
  • added strain to employee engagement, culture and value proposition.

“The role of technology has evolved from automating the business to actually being the business,” says Satish Alapati, CIO of Media & Entertainment Customer Experience at AT&T.

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The Importance of Benchmarking

By identifying areas you wish to improve in your business and benchmarking your existing performance against competitors, your business can strive to enhance your execution. 

Using benchmarking this way has allowed businesses to gain strategic advantages over competitors and to grow industry averages.

In order to know if you have been successful, benchmarking needs to be a continuous process and performance monitoring is an inherent characteristic of it.

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Surprisingly, Digital Nomadism Increases During Pandemic

There’s never been more interest in digital nomadism – “people who choose to embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely, anywhere in the Internet-connected world”.

BBC reported that not all digital nomads are stereotypical beach-dwelling backpackers with laptops, stringing together creative freelance gigs. As interest in digital nomadism has spiked during the pandemic, the term is increasingly becoming more expansive – a sort of new, updated, modified digital nomad. These workers may feel far more familiar: people who work a standard, full-time 9-to-5 at a large corporation.

Throughout the pandemic, many ‘conventional’ workers have already begun to move towards digitally nomadic set-ups. From Sweden to the US, workers have flocked to wi-fi-equipped cottages and cabins to work remotely for lockdown-friendly, manager-approved stay stations. 

‘Quarantine apartments’ and ‘social distancing retreats’ lured remote workers from miles away seeking more space for a few weeks – or a few months. In the first quarter of 2021, Airbnb reported that the amount of long-term stays (at least 28 nights) nearly doubled year-on-year

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Are leaders really listening more to their employees?

In a variety of sites and high-tech analysis, it is affirmed that: leaders are listening to their employees more than ever, and need to demonstrate empathy, inclusiveness and responsiveness on a daily basis. 

These are very important and worthwhile targets, but one cannot generalize. Whether leaders are behaving like described above depends on several factors: deep knowledge of digital technology; the leaders’ personality; for example, being able to laugh at himself; their background; and capacity to effectively move from vertical to horizontal administrative practices. 

Meet the Author

Peter Howard Wertheim & Dayse Abrantes - International Journalists

peter.howard@thebridge.social dayse.abrantes@thebridge.social International Journalists

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