Culture consultancy We Are Unity has released new data designed to help businesses take action to ensure their organisations are not left behind as the workplace faces rapid changes.
Employees now have more power to dictate the terms of their work arrangements and this shift in dynamics has seen a rise in tension with employers.
Ben Bars, CEO, We Are Unity said, “COVID-19 was the catalyst for the dramatic transformation we saw in the way the global business community approaches wellbeing, flexibility, and remote working and the effect these have – both positive and negative on an organisation’s culture.
“Our work with ASX100 companies has shown us that great culture is not just a nice add on.”
“Our research has scientifically proven that ASX100 organisations that were cultural over performers, since September 2020, saw a 36.5% index return compared with cultural under performers who only saw a 15% index return (market average 18%).”
“The financial implications of a poor culture coupled with the reinvention opportunity the pandemic has presented, means that businesses must act now to future-proof themselves.”
“Companies are judged and measured in financial performance and business figures, but what impacts those are the parts of a business that you cannot see.”
The practical guide to designing future ways of working shows the four common challenges facing corporate Australia and looks at the areas of work most impacted by the pandemic.
It offers ideas for leaders to future-proof their roles and ensure they have the right skill set to navigate changing waters and it also looks at the office of the future and what type of setup will be required to balance the needs of the business and employee satisfaction.
Challenges affecting Corporate Australia
Through longitudinal research with corporate Australia, We Are Unity identified the four most common challenges affecting organisations include the following.
We are still solving short term problems
Leaders need to think long term and collaborate to ensure they keep up with reinvention. Businesses will be winding their progress if they don’t plan for the future of work now.
Businesses adapted to the pandemic with ‘quick-fix’ solutions but must understand that work has now changed forever.
The office is no longer fit for purpose
Our offices need to be redesigned to not only address the work we do today but the work we will do in the future. Businesses must ask: what is the new purpose of the office?
We are neglecting team performance in favour of individual task performance
Employee productivity is increasing on individual tasks but falling behind on group tasks to achieve innovation and creativity that will see businesses evolve in productive ways.
Limited osmosis learning is an emerging risk
Lack of connection to our people and teams is impacting osmosis learning and IP transfer, leading to concerns around the long term impact on business performance and profitability.
Areas impacted by current ways of working
The pandemic and remote working widened the corporate productivity gap and shone a light on the companies who got their culture and employee experience right.
Insights from corporate Australia indicate that the current ways of working have significant impacts on innovation, advocacy, productivity and performance in most industries.
Almost half of senior decision makers said COVID-19 has disrupted their innovation strategy with over 60% of employees feeling that the lack of in person meetings had a negative impact.
Workers in a hybrid model are one-and-a-half times more likely to believe their employer offers a great workplace experience than those who go to the office on a full-time basis. Hybrid workers also demonstrate higher job satisfaction, personal creativity, and wellbeing.
The number of meetings increased during the pandemic by 12.9%, on average, and the number of attendees per meeting grew by 13.5%. Despite this, poor collaboration and inefficient work practices have reduced productive time by 2% to 3% for most organisations.
72% of businesses had less income as a result of COVID-19, for 22% revenue remained the same, and for just 7% revenue increased.
Future ways of leading
Across the board, a culture of wellbeing and strategic alignment are the leading aspirations for progressive organisations. To achieve these, leaders will need to carefully manage their commitment to commercial success with their commitment to the wellbeing of their people.
Leaders’ ability to handle change will be more important than ever and to be effective they will need the ability to adapt to shifting paradigms around flexibility, inclusion and wellbeing.
Leaders will also need to work on their unconscious intelligence, consisting of self awareness, empathy and intuition to complement their conscious intelligence of education and experience in order to address rising concerns of wellbeing and psychological safety.
The office of the future
The office as we know it is a thing of the past but it still has an important role to play as a place to connect and collaborate.
For employees, choice, privacy, health and wellbeing are top of mind.
These need to be balanced with those of the business and supported by the right technology, infrastructure, skills and capabilities.
Hybrid work offers benefits to both employers and employees but leaders need to consider how flexible working impact power dynamics and whether they are inclusive and equitable.
Some important findings the guide highlights on hybrid working
- There is no going back. Organisations who resist the shift to flexible working will have a harder time attracting talent.
- Flexibility and wellbeing initiatives are driving pride and engagement in employees and strengthening their organisation’s culture.
- Many senior leaders are fighting the tide due to lack of visibility leading and lack of employee trust.
- An overreliance on managing employee performance and productivity through data can erode trust between your organisation and its people therefore it’s important to balance this with human empathy and 1:1 communication.
- Communication is key – organisations should be transparent about what they are tracking and clearly articulate the tangible value to their employees of opting in.
- Many organisations noted that productivity gains resulting from the quick shift to WFH were unsustainable over time confirming the need to find new balance.
“During the pandemic managers admitted to monitoring video conferencing use, employee emails and slack conversations in order to gain a sense of their staff’s productivity.”
“This highlights the need for data transparency, if remote working is here to stay.”
“A mutual understanding must be reached between employees and employers around what is being monitored, coupled with accurate tools to measure productivity, ensuring workplace relationships in a remote environment are built around trust and transparency.”
“There’s no ignoring the future of work, and organisations that prioritise quick fixes or returns to traditional processes will quickly find themselves left behind.”
“For progressive organisations looking to lead the way into the future, the challenge ahead is clear – building a culture and employee experience that’s fit for purpose, aligned to strategy and designed to weather a perpetually changing working world,” says Ben Bars.