2020 flipped everyone’s plans for the year upside down, with no corner of the world left untouched. In this state of complete disarray, the primary business challenge for many was to keep customers happy while rapidly shifting staff to remote working. With this now mastered for most businesses and homeworking being the new norm, the next hurdle for leaders will be getting the balance right between the many conflicting desires of those in their workforce. Here, Matt Parker, CEO of Babble, provides his own view on the considerations, decision-makers must factor into their planning, and how having a successful technology partnership can be an enabler to solving the issues at hand.
“The pandemic has exposed deep divides between those desperate to get back to the office and those relishing the flexibility of working from home. Business leaders must tread carefully to ensure they’re not simply catering to those employees that are making the most noise. The world of work is evolving fast, business leaders should forget about ‘the now’ and start to focus on the future, sooner rather than later. They should be thinking far on from today’s issues and focusing instead on a time when COVID-19 is behind us and the new trend in working practices has truly gathered momentum. Whatever operational decisions are made now will have long term, wider impacts on company culture, so it’s vital leaders get it right from the outset.
“A thriving workforce is invaluable – it keeps the cogs turning and contributes to a company’s overall success. Striking a healthy balance between keeping the two sides of the argument happy will be the goal – achieved by creating a fluid working structure that permits both flexible working, the typical 9 to 5 and – well, let’s face it – whatever else life has to throw at us. Businesses should therefore be adaptable, imaginative and have an open mind as they evolve their ways of conducting business whilst keeping the employee experience front and centre. This is, of course, sometimes easier said than done. Leaders can often be too close to their company’s operational processes to see the cracks or indeed sometimes obvious ways to improve. That’s why building strong technology partnerships and leveraging their deep expertise is critical for building resilient companies and getting a unique advantage.
“Catering to one side of the argument will result in a huge backlash and people are bound to change their minds on what style of working they prefer – so it’s best not to get pigeon-holed from the outset. The hybrid model, in which companies future-proof their businesses by providing employees with the freedom to work as they please, will be the future. It still offers the human contact that’s required to develop staff, creativity and relationships for the better, and means businesses can adapt to challenges or changes in circumstances in an instant, if required. Essentially, it’s about operating with maximum efficiency and productivity from your team, resulting in maximum benefits for your customers.
“Being agile requires business leaders to identify change and understand how it could benefit their organisations. Seeking new opportunities and deploying the resources needed to secure these opportunities futureproofs a business and helps it to succeed. But it’s worth noting that there’s no set formula for agile working. Businesses can’t follow a ‘how to’ guide for agility. Every business has its own way of working – its own processes. Identifying where there’s need for change is unique across each business, but I’m looking forward to playing a part in this new era.”