Capitalising on digital advances in workplace

December 8, 2015

Peter Crush 1 December 2015

What you can learn from change in the communications industry

Work is changing at a rapid pace but many organisations still cling to tried and tested methods of working or ideas that have worked in the past. However, reluctance to even trial new ways of working can cost employers their competitive edge.

From increasing opportunities for employees to work remotely to the ubiquitous nature of social media, many of today’s advances have the power to enhance employee autonomy and collaboration, and drive greater innovation.

A workforce of the future report, ‘Success or stagnation in the communications industry’ by Accenture Strategy, offers lessons for all employers from research with communications businesses.

People Management picks the top five tips for management and HR:

  1. Recognise people’s willingness to embrace technology
    Integrating technology into current ways of working will require proactive management to deal with employees facing change. But managing director for Accenture Strategy (Ireland) and report author Ryan Shanks says: “You might be surprised at the willingness of traditional workers to embrace digital. We’ve found more than half of employees we have surveyed (57 per cent) see the impact of digital technologies on their work experience as being positive. Only 8 per cent see it as negative.”
  2. Firms must re-wire their organisations
    Communications professionals are not making the shifts they need to alter their workforce composition. “Many of today’s providers still employ steep hierarchies and create silos that divide teams and create numerous levels of approval,” says Shanks. Businesses must instead be “flatter and must employ smaller teams to innovate and act more quickly”, he adds.
  3. Valuable workforce contributors won’t always be employees
    When Audi was developing its latest in-car multi-media system, rather than bring expensive talent in-house it created a virtual environment, where its design engineers could take part in real-time exchanges with more than 7,000 customers. Together, they co-created the new product. Shanks says: “The competitive landscape has changed. The imperative is to look beyond internal payroll. Executives need to think about where talent is needed, where it lives, and how it is accessed.”
  4. More agile leaders are needed
    New leadership traits are already required in this changing world, including the ability to manage complexity, exercise judgement in the face of increasing amounts of data, and deal with the collapse of organisational hierarchies. But the report also reveals an additional challenge for HR: developing leadership teams ready for the digital age. Only 48 per cent of workers currently feel their leaders are ready to adapt to advances in digital technologies – including social media, collaboration tools, mobile applications and analytics.
  5. Empower staff through training
    Whilst businesses may be developing their capabilities, Shanks says firms must “empower the new workforce by providing information and training at the point of need”. Only through this do they have a chance of raising productivity and increasing customer satisfaction. He adds: “To develop needed behaviours, organisations must combine recruitment with pioneering training and development activities – coaching, action learning and mentoring. It’s this that quickly builds capabilities.”

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