The Future of Work: Three trends at the top of CIOs’ agenda

The influx of new technologies has kept digital transformation top of mind for C-Level execs for years. The benefits are clear, but digital transformation is about more than simply adopting new technologies to stay ahead of the competition. Of course, there is value in becoming more digitally-led, but this puts all the importance on technology implementation. As soon as investment is made in deploying a solution, the next game changer arrives. With shifting working patterns, cultural shifts and a changing workforce, C-Suite execs need to be able to cope with the idea of the workplace being in a constant state of evolution. Technology is the enabler of this, not the driver, as employee experience will truly accelerate digital transformation.

Are organisations getting ready for the future the work?

The research report: ‘Transitioning to the Future of Work: CIO Views’, conducted by CIO WaterCooler and Atos shows interesting insights. 100 CIOs and IT leaders were asked about how they were approaching challenges on the future of work, with the results indicating that managing cultural change will be a significant feature of planning for future working environments.

Three main trends elucidated from the survey; Automation; Reskilling and a renewed focus on the Flexible Workforce. These trends, coupled with the need to deal with rising employee stress and social wellbeing, define the challenges that businesses will face over the next decade.

Automation will drive efficiencies

Leveraging automation will be key to securing workplace transformation, with machines taking on menial, repetitive tasks and freeing up time to focus on innovation and value-add services. This said, over three-quarters of respondents believe that the impact of AI on their organization is of concern. Roles identified as being under pressure from AI include operational staff (48%), admin staff (60%) and customer service (43%). Senior management, unsurprisingly, was not thought to be at risk (4%).

Securing long-term employment through social reskilling

The research also indicated an emphasis on the softer aspects of organizational management, with CIOs encouraging their direct reports to focus on developing soft skills. When it comes to managing disruption, the three most important skills were identified as being the ability to cope with change and ambiguity (71%), communication skills (45%) and understanding the impact of technology on business (37%). This marks a real shift within organizations who have previously focused mainly on technical and expert skills.

Flexible working demands a balanced approach

About half of the respondents saw social interaction as a feature of the future working environment. For those that already offer flexible working, 55% expect people to be working flexibly every day. Whilst there is a call for more flexible working, the traditional office still has a role in the mix – and so employers must strike a careful balance. Research from Unify found that those who worked in a traditional office space up to 25% of the time express the highest levels of satisfaction with their work lifestyles. On the other hand, those who were 100% remote working or 100% office-bound had lower satisfaction levels.

Changing business models are always going to be challenging – over three-quarters of respondents agreed – but attracting and retaining top talent also features highly (59%). It’s all about balance. Many organizations already have elements of a digital workplace in place, but to realize the benefits, a holistic, user-centric approach is needed; from a smart office design to work and meet, to enabling technology for flexible working and a culture that embraces change. A great employee experience will deliver better business results.

 

Andrew Pryor

Conference producer in the technology industry, specialising in strategy and leadership for large enterprises.

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