Future Of Work: “Culture Cannot Play Second Fiddle To Technology”

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Companies are struggling to adapt to the new normal owing to lack of agility, too much focus on technology, and too little focus on culture.
  • For companies that have survived the shift to remote work, the time has come to strategically prepare for the future of work. 
  • Companies are struggling to adapt to the new normal owing to lack of agility, too much focus on technology, and too little focus on culture. 
  • Organizations that build adaptive workforces—through employee experience and strong corporate culture—are more likely to thrive in the future of work. 

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated trends that were already shaping the future of work. 

In a matter of weeks, companies were forced to completely alter the way they did business. For the most part, 2020 was all about surviving the shift to remote work; however, the time has come for organizations to strategically prepare for the future of work.  

“Many [organizations] have been preparing for a future of work they assumed would appear on their doorsteps in a few years’ time — not a few weeks.” 

Forrester’s recent report Thriving in the Future of Work Requires an Adaptive Workforce, commissioned by Globant, aimed to understand how leaders are rethinking the future of work almost a year after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

One key finding of the report was that 2020 made it very clear that organizations lacked the cultural, technological, and operational agility to respond to rapid change.  

There are a few reasons for this: 

  • Organizations lacked the technology infrastructure to support remote work 
  • Corporate culture was much too reliant on the physical workplace 
  • Many organizations continue to focus too much on how/when employees achieve targets, rather than focusing on the fact that targets are being reached.  

“People, processes, and technology are years behind where they need to be to succeed in the new future of work.” – Forrester, Thriving in the Future of Work Requires an Adaptive Workforce 

Most companies shifted to remote work and increased their investments in technology in order to support a dispersed workforce, however the shift was anything but smooth and employees and leaders  alike struggled in the “new normal”.  

Why? 

Lack of agility, too much focus on technology, and too little focus on culture.  

Technology Alone Won’t Drive Success in the Future 

As companies rethink their future of work strategies and investments, they need to come to terms with the fact that “culture cannot play second fiddle to technology”. 

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    Technology has certainly taken the larger slice of the pie when it comes to future of work discussions. Technology may be the main enabler of future of work and digital transformation, but technology alone won’t create future-fit organizations.  

    Afterall, even in the age of AI and robots; it is still humans who do the bulk of high value jobs. This is why culture should be prioritized, especially now as more companies make the shift to remote work permanent.  

    “Future-of-work organizational fitness relies on cultural fitness, and cultural fitness is built on customer and employee obsession. Leaders must ground their people, process, and technology decisions in what is best for the employees whose attitudes and efforts ultimately determine client happiness and company success.” 

    Business resilience cannot be built on technology alone; especially if the technologies used do not support employees on their day-to-day work efforts.  

    Forrester’s report found that “respondents realize technology plays an important role in augmenting collaboration and improving EX, but they struggle to prioritize which technologies to invest in (76%). They also struggle to identify meaningful KPIs related to cultural and behavioral change (66%).” 

    At the beginning of the pandemic, this lack of prioritization could be understood, as most organizations didn’t have the time or bandwidth to address corporate culture. One year later, however, organizations that fail to prioritize culture and instead continue to prioritize processes and efficiency risk becoming laggards.  

    “Firms must invest in EX processes and technologies to build a culture that’s just as resilient as the technology infrastructure they’ve created.” The key area of focus should be in deploying technologies that “securely connect and empower employees”.  

    Strong Culture + the Right Technology = Adaptive Workforce 

    Organizations that invest in technology that can help improve the employee experience and strengthen company culture will have an adaptive workforce.  

    An adaptive workforce is fundamental in creating agile and resilient organizations, as adaptive workforces are better prepared for “turning uncertainty into actionable, measurable, and rewardable processes, all of which are subject to revision or abandonment as needed based on incoming feedback.” 

    It’s the companies that are able to build adaptive workforces—through employee experience and strong corporate culture—are the ones that will thrive in the future of work. 

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