The “future of work” is one of those buzz-phrases that’s been around for a good half-decade now. Often it’s used in tandem with digital transformation, or DX, to describe how we’ll be working as far as mobility and communicability are concerned.
There’s something missing though. A human revolution is occurring in the workplace that will give rise, or fall to be more specific, to the next Kodak story, if leaders and businesses are not focused and decisive now on the implementation of digital change through their people, processes and culture.
A Fresh Name for Tech Transformation
The funky “DX” acronym sounds fresh, but digital transformation isn’t a new thing. Air quotes DX has been around for close to three decades.
Kodak started to fall afoul of it in the early 90s, and it’s something they helped to invent!
But we’ve all learned from their misfortune and inability to change, right? We’ve all absorbed the case-study in our business courses and we’ve read Who Moved My Cheese, so it won’t happen to us…, right?
Here’s the thing, digital transformation is a constant now. It’s ongoing. It’s part of the furniture. It’s time to move on to business transformation. And that transformation is all about leadership and people. What’s vital for today’s leaders to understand is that the future of work has arrived.
What About the Future of Leadership?
“The future of leadership will see employees being given far more freedom and opportunity. The days of successful leaders being overly controlling are numbered – new ways of working mean flexibility and empowerment will become central to businesses large and small.” – Richard Branson
Mr. Branson said that in 2013, and the Virgin Group’s ongoing success has been built on the backs of people. For Virgin, they trust employees to run with their ideas and do their jobs. Virgin just lets them get on with it.
It’s important to understand air quotes DX hasn’t just happened in business. It has also happened to people. Today’s employees, they’re here now by the way, are digital natives, who are caring global citizens, and who want to work for a like-minded employer who gives their work meaning and purpose.
Your People Have Changed…Have You?
We spend 80% of our lives at work, and while employees used to rail at the idea of being contactable all the time, they don’t anymore. The device-agnostic technology exists now for them to blur the lines between work and personal time even more, and they’re happy to do it if their employer grants them that flexibility.
So what business leaders need to realise, and realise now, is their employees don’t believe in a job for life, so any remnants of the “you’re lucky to have a job” culture will see those people find somewhere else to work. Employers must have a stated purpose their employees believe in, otherwise they will disengage and disappear. The next Kodak story will be a company whose leaders aren’t attuned to the need for business transformation through a different attitude to their culture and people.
Now is the Time
At SAP our biggest challenge is communicating to clients how important it is for them to let go of cultures and systems that constrain their people, and to just trust those people to get on with their jobs.
I believe there are huge opportunities for the leaders who do this, and who do it now, because it’s not about the future of work. That future is here. It’s today.
About the Author
Marc Havercroft is COO & Vice President Strategy – HCM cloud & Digital Strategy and Transformation at SAP. He is responsible for leading the SAP SuccessFactors strategy & business operations ANZ, driving growthstrategies / GTM and providing the highest quality engagement .