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Future working models – A challenge of Orchestration

The workforce has changed. It’s not self-contained, stamp your clock card,  sit-at-your-desk for eight and a half hours and go home. It’s now Freelancers, Contractors, 3rd party vendors, FTE’s, PTE’s and the balance changes constantly, as organisation’s requirements are often liquid and flexibility is often needed to meet the demand of ever hungry customers and shareholders.

Organisations are under extreme pressure to be lean, save money and time and also ensure the right people are doing the right thing. The problem is a lot of businesses are configured to accommodate FTE’s as their only source of talent. From companies on-boarding processes to their internal platforms,  they are all configured for people coming into the organisation once, and being there for long periods of time.

We’ve all seen contractors (well I’ve seen it!) sitting at their desks idle because IT haven’t arranged log in’s. 3rd party vendors sent away because of requirements which were not clearly defined or confused, Freelancers here one day, gone the next. Businesses need to start thinking about the flexible workforce, and their needs too. How to interface this blend of different types of workforce to the business, how to on board and off board quickly and efficiently and those who get it right, really will be able to leverage the workforce of the future and all the benefit it brings.

I have myself been sitting at a desk of a large organisation waiting for a laptop, or security access and such like for not hours, but days. In one example, weeks!! This is incredibly inefficient & costly. Especially when you’re a high paid contractor on a huge day rate, but don’t have a laptop. Or access to SharePoint. Or can’t get through the barriers because you don’t have a pass, or a car park space. And don’t get me started on elongated on-boarding processes which take months to complete & still are never quite right…..

Sixty-five percent of children now entering primary school will hold jobs that currently don’t exist. (Source: World Economic Forum)

The Robots will take over

Let’s not kid ourselves. RPA (or Robotic Process Automation) is starting to have a massive impact on companies already. First hand I’ve seen it and helped by using it to transform help desk functions, customer service online functions and staff on-boarding using off-the-shelf AI from companies such as Instabot, IFTTT, Zapier, Microsoft Flow and such like. Easy, cost-effective and simple, these software tools really can help businesses automate repetitive admin tasks.

55% of executives plan to use RPA in the future

The impact that has on humans is a topic for another day, but I’m starting to see the cold hard reality of efficient and accurate automation. People leave the business or AKA ‘get fired’ but sssh, we’re not meant to talk about that. Departments get cut in entirety too and all of a sudden an organisation needs people to look after algorithms not departments of fleshy human beings, and these algorithms are now often making up entire departments. Who needs resource who demand an Apple Mac and a Car Parking space when you can have a few hundred lines of code working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week never getting sick and always 100% accurate?


So when you’ve got a business half full of lines of code (who don’t need cafeteria or subsidized gym memberships) and half full of a mixture of people all with different requirements, how do you ensure your policies and governance are suitable, your business is safe but also people actually want to work there and how can you make it easier for them?

It’s a tough balance to strike and during large digital transformational change projects I’ve been involved with, culture and appetite has to start from the top although sadly today it rarely does. I used to say businesses need to ‘eat their own dogfood’ but maybe a nicer term is ‘drink your own champagne’. On-boarding processes are some of the worst. Entirely ill equipped to deal with the remote workforce, home workers, Freelancers, having a more abstract approach to on-boarding and using the myriad of HR tools to help can really slicken up how people rotate through your business.

The other killer for me here is companies who dont support BYOD. Time and time again I’ve fought and wrestled with CIOs, IT Departments and heck, even exited companies because I’ve been unable to leverage any kind of BYOD policy. Staff don’t want to use company funded mid-tier kit when they have high end kit at home. Organisations need to get to grips with remote device user policy apps, mobile security, and a ‘common sense’ approach to IT risk.

  • Create a collaborative culture
  • Communicate the vision
  • Adopt value-based leadership
  • Transparency
  • Slick onboard/offboarding
  • Be ready for BYOD

Key Risks

One of the key risks I see to having a work place which leverages future working models is middle management levels stuck between needing to deliver to customers and shareholders, but also at the coal-face of a demanding workforce all wanting things such as flexible working, BYOD and such like. Often they are not empowered (despite the company image) to do anything and staff are often left fustrated with companies who say one thing but do another.

Flexible Spaces

One of the things I’m seeing becoming ubiquitous (but ever so slowly) is not only co-working spaces in towns and cities outside of London (big should out to @minoroak) but space-as-a-service. The ability to rent flexible space as you need it and only for as long as you need it is driving change in the workforce and change in how businesses set up their offices. I can totally see work of the future involving three days a week at a co-working space of your choosing & you claiming back the expense.

Consider User Experience for your internal teams

If you run an e-commerce shop, you consider your customer journey and user experience for your customers. But when was the last time you thought about the UX experience for your internal teams or put the same amount of effort in? Why should your internal staff (who are the ones making the wheels turn) have to suffer creaking antiquated systems, you should not make employee UX an afterthought.

People Analytics

And remember your workforce is there to be interacted with, to provide rich feedback. Get to know them and their problems whether they are their for five days or you’ve signed them up for three years. Run employee engagement forums, NPS surveys and polls. Get to know your business, what works and what doesn’t, and then improve in iterations to accommodate all of your workforce, not just the lifers.

The vast majority of office workers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany said they believe technology helps them get their work done. The majority of the 4,000-plus office workers surveyed also said they believe technology makes them more productive, improves work-life integration, and helps them better connect with co-workers. (Source: Adobe)

So what?

Organisations probably think they have more time than is true for pretty much all of the above to start happening within the next five years. If you’re in charge of people, or run HR, I bet you can see trends in requests for more flexible working, BYOD and expenses for co-working spaces. Do you have a clearly defined on and off board process for staff? Is it easy? Does your IT department or CAN your IT department setup access to mail, intranets and platforms quickly? Does the lead time needed to get these staff access match the velocity of your hiring? And what about security? How are you protecting business IP walking out the door with the next disgruntled contractor?

All these are questions I’ll be learning the answers to at the Future Work Place Summit 

Get in touch with me on Twitter (@mariodc) using the hashtag #futureworkplacemario

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