The world around us is changing at an increasingly fast pace. The cycles of change have become so short that no structured organisation can sufficiently react to everything that is taking place around it. Training staff to continuously produce net-new value is a tall order for any organisation, as is recruiting the right people.
“Back in the days before COVID-19, companies used to challenge the need for excessive planning by referring to a traditional U.S. Army principle, according to which no plan survives contact with the enemy,” says Rasmus Almqvist, Director, Workplace Collaboration & Channels, Elisa Videra.
“As soon as reality kicks in, plans become useless. Today, a fast-growing number of experts are questioning the need for planning altogether.”
The traditional approach to preparing for the future, guided by planning and supported by putting those plans out to competitive tender, has quite unceremoniously reached the end of its life.
“To remain agile and alert in today's operating environment, companies must accept prevailing market conditions and focus their efforts on determining what capabilities are required. And only after having defined what these capabilities are should they start addressing ways to respond to the new requirements.”
This is best done by building an ecosystem of partners possessing the types of skills needed to implement the capabilities, and by turning this process into tangible actions that deliver the types of outcomes the business is looking to achieve.
From networks to ecosystems
The types of capabilities that are required today are so diverse that no organisation can aspire to be completely self-sufficient. Seamless collaboration between specialised partners provides both a comprehensive view of the wider picture as well as an opportunity to take advantage of the best possible expertise for any given challenge and situation.
“Unlike a traditional network of partners, an ecosystem goes a lot deeper than a conventional group of companies with offerings that complement one another. An ecosystem is driven by a common desire to jointly help clients solve the challenges that they face in their daily operations,” Almqvist points out.
In addition, an ecosystem provides a comprehensive set of top-level skills and capabilities from which the client can promptly choose the right elements to help deal with the situation at hand.
But building an ecosystem is a laborious undertaking.
“It takes perseverance and time to build an ecosystem that can meet these expectations, but the outcome is worth the effort. For many, the transparency required in sharing information between ecosystem partners and having open-ended conversations about what kind of capabilities are needed is the hardest part – it’s simply something that hasn’t been part of prevailing business culture.”
However, as times change, so must the business cultures. Reacting to challenges by drawing up detailed plans is no longer a viable option. “An ecosystem of partners provides us with adequate means to be prepared for whatever unexpected changes may lie ahead.”
Maintaining a culture of transparency and supporting an ongoing dialogue within the ecosystem is essential – and that includes the clients. This will eventually guide them to the point where they have the means to articulate what kind of capabilities they will need in the future to overcome the challenges they may be facing.
How to best prepare for the challenges of hybrid working
According to Rasmus Almqvist, in the framework of hybrid working the required capabilities include:
1. Redesigning processes and ways of working
“Old modes of operation must be abandoned. Processes must be redesigned by utilising the right tools and by accepting the fact that today people work from different locations and spaces. Take the traditional “workshop” as an example. It’s a striking example of a situation that does not yield good outcomes if participants are not able to bring their best self to the task. And this can only happen when everyone is given an equal opportunity to do so, no matter what tools they are using or from where they are attending.”
2. Measuring and optimising workspaces
“Heatmaps must be created to see what spaces are being used, how often and how heavily. Utilisation rate – how often a room is in use – as well as occupancy rate – how many people are in it – are necessary statistics from the point of view of optimisation.”
3. Redefining the role of the office
“If at least some employees are working from home, what actually is the purpose of the office – is it still a place for work, or something entirely different? And how can we use the office as a tool to strengthen employee experiences if the function is about to change? Employees must be given a valid reason to work from the office, and it must happen in a way that nurtures both employee wellbeing and work productivity.”
4. Adopting a flexible approach to work
“As with any kind of agreement, an employment contract is a mutual agreement between two parties where each party agrees on roles and responsibilities in exchange for monetary compensation. However, during these times of change, both the employer and the employee must have the courage to challenge the prevailing way of thinking about employment.
Instead of stubbornly sticking with a traditional 9-to-5 approach, more flexible ways of working must be adopted. These may include more flexibility relating to where work gets done, monetary compensation for working remotely or when travelling to the office, or even employees working for multiple employers at the same time.”