Agility: The currency needed for the evolving workplace culture

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Agility: The currency needed for the evolving workplace culture


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Summary

  • The last one year has been infamous for disrupting an established order of working, institutionalising a new order and accelerating the future of work.
  • This new order is anchored on Covid-19’s known and unknown impacts.

The last one year has been infamous for disrupting an established order of working, institutionalising a new order and accelerating the future of work.

This new order is anchored on Covid-19’s known and unknown impacts. Because it has spawned fundamental changes, the intensified digital-accelerated workplace transformation has been the most conspicuous impact – triggering remote working en masse and literally teleporting us to a future of work that seemed so distant.

In a way, these changes are here to stay. They also ought to yank Human Resources (HR) departments out of their comfortable perches. Post-Covid recovery, it is not guaranteed to be business-as-usual. HR leaders must address crucial dimensions for a winnable formula that links: people, strategy, structure, processes, systems and performance.

The most critical remains the people factor. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, remote work programmes were few and far between in the Kenyan workplace landscape. Specifically, no single known sector including banks, telecoms, financial services, and healthcare encouraged remote working. Now, forced by the need to adhere to health measures, almost all of them have bolstered their remote work strategies.

This has come with unprecedented heft for their respective management units. Teams need direction and help if they are to work effectively, guided by a completely new system. They also need to be energised and motivated at a time when organisations are facing new pressures on delivery and the bottom-line. Prominently, the psychological safety of teams has become the new Achilles heel – as the unexpected shift in work culture takes a toll on overall employee health and wellbeing. At Telkom, we have taken a holistic and deliberate approach to our employees’ welfare, to make them feel secure and supported, thereby enabling them to serve our customers effectively.

A deliberate initiative was the launch of a 24 hour counselling hotline that was well appreciated at the height of the pandemic. We also activated an employee telecommute programme, that continues to enable non-location-essential employees to work remotely, while maintaining productivity.

The more remote working becomes a permanent workplace fixture, the more the science of structure gains cadence. Work is cut out for HR managers to help chauffeur an appropriate direction. At this point, a universal view of working with cross-functional teams, with outcome-based objectives, has never been more important, as opposed to siloed working.

With remote working, automation of internal systems becomes the first basic in the continuum of deliverables. Many HR departments are knee-deep into incongruent software, systems, and tools that are heavily dependent on manual intervention. Instead, businesses now need to transition to an ecosystem of applications that connect data from across the business, enabling greater agility and more informed decision-making. Specifically, HR managers must ensure employees have the basics. For example, sufficient bandwidth to execute a day’s work — as well as tools spanning content creation, video conferencing, file sharing, and channel-based communication are important. It also goes without saying that the organisation’s work culture will need to be fully reflective of and be able to support these dynamics.

Finally, ‘meeting discipline’ is required as a glue that binds remote working. Line management will need to create a clear rhythm of scheduled daily and weekly meetings for a smooth flow of work. This reiterates the need for a quick culture shift, flexibility and ambidexterity.

To borrow from a 2020 KPMG International Report on the future of HR in the new reality, The new reality demands a long game from HR: The true long-term value of HR professionals, amid the uncertainty and complexities, lies in the ability to shape the future of their companies by driving performance across the enterprise—getting the most from people, data, and technology.

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