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Employee-First Model Crucial For Future-Ready Businesses

By: Yesh Surjoodeen, Southern Africa Managing Director at HP

As leaders take action to reenergize their people and organizations, the most forward looking see a larger opportunity to reimagine their organizations’ identity, how they work, and ultimately, how they grow in an increasingly complex and evolving environment.

The pressure to get back to ‘normal’ has been building for some time now – spurred on by the lift of COVID-19 restrictions across the globe. Leaders operating in this post pandemic world are now tasked with invigorating their workforce in an increasingly winner-takes-all business environment while navigating through the new hybrid work set up. 

In this current reality, hybrid working enabled by our advanced technology have become the new normal, and businesses are facing unprecedented challenges when it comes to managing their workforce effectively. While many companies may think that investing in the latest technology or tools is the solution -and they are not completely wrong- the key to futureproofing an organization lies in taking a human-centered approach to the transformation of the workplace.

At the heart of this approach is the recognition that people are the most important asset of any organization.

With staff increasingly working at least a few days per week from their homes, coffee shops, or on the go, hybrid models have dramatically changed how we work and interact with each other. Our workforce is more diverse, geographically dispersed, and technologically connected than ever before. To meet the needs of this evolving workforce, we need to focus on creating an environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and engagement.

Companies that previously relied on traditional office-based models have had to quickly adapt to remote working, and many have struggled to do so effectively. However, remote working is here to stay, and we need to embrace it as a new way of working that has the potential to bring enormous benefits to businesses and their employees.

A recent McKinsey study in the USA found that 58% of Americans had the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week while 35% of job holders have the option to work from home full-time. The study found that 87% of workers offered at least some remote work embraced the opportunity.

The affinity for remote working is similar in South Africa. According to recruiters’ firm Michael Page, 37% of survey respondents would choose to work remotely for 2 days and 33% for 1 day a week, while 53% are looking at 3 or 4 days a week as an ideal work from home arrangement.

The same research showed that 63% of South African professionals believe their productivity increased while working from home and 46% feel more satisfied with their jobs now compared to before pandemic-related lockdowns were enforced.

One of the biggest challenges of remote working is the lack of face-to-face interaction, which can lead to feelings of isolation and disengagement. However, by using technology to facilitate communication and collaboration, we can create a virtual workplace that is just as engaging and productive as a physical one. Video conferencing, instant messaging, and collaboration tools can all help to bring remote teams together and foster a sense of community. This will require an organization optimizing technology, processes, and culture to meet the needs of its workforce.

HP is one of the companies at the forefront of this transformation – aiming to adopt an employee-focused approach using several of its own cloud-based HP Services solutions – gathering feedback, generating insights, and streamlining processes for a better technology experience.

Last year, HP acquired Poly, a leading global provider of workplace collaboration solutions. This brings industry-leading video conferencing solutions, cameras, headsets, voice and software to HP, allowing customers to create meeting equity between those in the room and those who aren’t.

Tech solutions like these requires designing a technology strategy around connectivity, flexibility, and automation. This means empowering employees with solutions – hardware, software, or a mix of both – that enables them to be productive wherever they touch down. Emphasis must also be placed on technological assets with built-in protection to guard against, detect, and recover from cyberattacks before they disrupt workflow.

However, it is important to recognize that technology is not a magic wand that can solve all problems. We need to strike a balance between the use of technology and the human touch and focus on building relationships and fostering a culture of trust and accountability.

To achieve this, companies need to invest in training and development programs that help employees to develop the skills they need to thrive in a remote working environment. This might include communication and collaboration skills, time management, and digital literacy. By providing employees with the tools, they need to succeed, we can empower them to take ownership of their work and become more productive and engaged.

The key to creating the best workforce solutions is not about products, but about people. Clearly, the case for reimagining an organization and taking bold actions has never been clearer. By investing in our employees and empowering them to succeed, we can build a workforce that can meet the challenges of the future and drive the success of our businesses to greater heights.