The Future of Work: five steps to help you start your journey

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Many HR teams that are looking to prepare for the Future of Work have to tackle a number of challenges before they can even take their first step. Here are a few considerations that will help you embark on that journey.

It’s 2018. There’s no need to explore how technology has evolved from the days of mainframe computers to what we’re now well accustomed to. This isn’t a history lesson.

Because of technological advancements and  unrelenting business challenges, organisations have become very interested in the Future of Work (FoW) movement. “Okay Google,” and “Hey Siri,” – or “Hey Cyrus,”  in Henry Witherspoon (Kevin Hart’s father)’s case – have been deemed as the type of tech that would be beneficial for the workplace to improve productivity, and allow employees to focus on the more value-add aspects of their role. Thus affording organisations more value.

The prevalence of cognitive technologies, machine learning, natural language processing, gamification, automation, chatbots and all the tech we have available as consumers are significantly impacting what is desired for workplace tools.

Organisations like LinkedIn are leveraging their platforms and delivering learning using on-demand videos and content to enable users to build new skills at their convenience. I don’t know why other video platforms didn’t leverage this earlier, as users have been hosting learning content for years.

What’s stopping businesses from starting their Future of Work venture?

It is important to invest in this movement to ensure your organisation remains competitive. We’ve seen what happens to stubborn organisations that are slow to adapt to change.

There is a reason why consulting firms are selling projects and programmes based on this space. It’s the same reason why HR tech guru’s are continuously promoting the importance of FoW in HR Tech events across the world. It’s not waffle, but how many organisations are actually in a place where they can begin to implement these great ideas?

Find out what ‘good’ looks like by observing leading HR functions in this space.

Many organisations have horrendous legacy HR systems, a negative HR reputation among its employees, poor people data –  even discriminatory people data (that’s for another article) – which make the realisation of such lofty employee experience / HR user experience and FoW dreams very difficult to achieve.

How to start your Future of Work journey

Below are a few practical considerations that may help turn your FoW aspirations into reality:

1. Welcome all ideas

Have an ideation session where you completely boil the ocean with blue sky thinking and entertain the impossible. Think of all the things you’d want to have in your HR offering – a good starting point is to look at what tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon are doing.

2. Look beyond your industry

Assess the maturity of your HR function and the wider organisation. Find out what ‘good’ looks like by observing leading HR functions in this space. Look beyond your industry as a key innovation mode to learn from areas outside of your sphere. Then perform a gap analysis between their operations and yours to understand your maturity.

3. Identify quick wins

Look over all the great ideation that took place in your blue sky thinking session and establish what will be most impactful for your organisation vs what can feasibly be done. Prioritise based on this and identify some quick wins to improve the experience of the HR customers.

Establish what your minimum viable product will be. It’s okay to iterate and release subsequent versions, prompted by customer feedback, adoption and analytics (Apple do it all the time).

​Investing in the FoW movement can have a direct impact on an organisation’s financial performance.

Put the items that aren’t feasible immediately into a bucket list, which you can refer to and begin to develop solutions for later. Also identify opportunities where you can build and further disrupt on some of the items, in line with your blue sky thinking ideation bucket list.

4. Build your team

Assemble a team that comprises all the relevant skill-sets that will help you achieve this vision. It’s probably best that this team isn’t full of a bunch of HR folk who are too consumed in their silo or area of expertise.

Consider people across your organisation who are skilled in the digital space, analytics, systems and computing, design, comms and marketing. It’s important to understand that to deliver this effort beyond HR, it will require collaboration beyond HR. However HR should lead this effort.

5. Create a roadmap

Look at your priorities and develop a roadmap based on what you want to achieve and when. Be realistically ambitious. Get traction and build momentum but DO NOT over promise what cannot be delivered as this will run the risk of fatiguing your customers. At this stage, establish how you will deliver this project e.g. through research sprints, development sprints etc.

NB. The steps outlined above are not comprehensive. Rather they are what I feel are some of the key steps you will need to take to realise your FoW dreams.

What next? Disrupt more!

Once you’ve gone through these steps you can begin your programme for improving the employee experience, leveraging the FoW space, but appropriating it at your level or maturity and readiness.

From this you can grow and begin to do more disruptive things, as the maturity increases and the adoption of what you deliver off the back of your first project is successful.

Investing in the FoW movement can have a direct impact on an organisation’s financial performance. Even if all your organisation can afford is a little investment, due to wider challenges, it can still reap incremental benefits. Irrespective of size and budget, conversation and action among organisations and HR functions needs to start now.

 

About Michael Ofuasia

Michael Ofuasia

Michael is a commercially minded HR professional with broad experience covering recruitment, employee relations, HR strategy and HR advisory / consulting. Michael has great passion for HR, people related business challenges and business growth.

His area of expertise are HR User Experience, the Employee Experience, Future of Work, and Digital Transformation.

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