Why FoW graphicA common question I get asked by business leaders is why they should invest time, effort and money in understanding and adapting to the so called ‘future of work’.

My glib answer is that to not do so makes them and their organisation REALLY vulnerable.   And conversely, adapting now is a source a great competitive advantage on many fronts.

So what are the advantages of understanding and adapting now?  (I was going to write ‘early’ instead of ‘now’, but the changes are already here and are being felt by pretty much every organisation!)

The top reason given by clients and organisations I speak to include:

Innovation –   Future of work thinking and practice embraces truly diverse collaboration which is at the heart of innovation.  By diverse collaboration, I mean collaboration that is across function, age, seniority, locations and maybe even organisations.  To innovate, first you need an innovative idea, which by its very nature will be a minority idea (If everyone had the same idea, then it wouldn’t be innovation!).  Then you need to quickly implement that idea – again by drawing quickly collaboratively across a wide range of skills and functions.

Attracting Talent – It’s a disruptive world out there, with pretty much every industry being, or about to be turned upside down by non-conventional competition.  The talent you (and many other organisations)  need to weave your way through this disruption are likely to be EXACTLY the talent attracted to organisations who embrace future of work ideas – easy, tech enabled collaboration, transparency, flexibility in time, location and process, easy feedback culture, lattice career paths and loads of development to name a few.

Customer Closeness – one feature of the future of work is the blurring of conventional interfaces between customers and employees. Smart organisations take advantage of this to gather insight into what the customer wants and needs, and by delivering service in collaborative, networked ways.

Employee Engagement – in a 2013 Gallop poll only a measly 13% of employees were positively engaged, with an amazing 24% actively disengaged.   Yet another Gallop poll of over 50,000 business units and 1.4million employees showed that engagement has a huge impact on productivity, P&L and customer satisfaction.  Given that, which CEO wouldn’t pay close attention to the changing expectations of work which so directly impacts on how engaged your people are?

Agile Teams – the future of work is all about being open minded, agile, experimenting and ‘pivoting’ in the light of data and feedback.  It’s about quickly building minimum viable products to test and trial.  If larger organisations ‘think and act like start ups’ they get all the agile benefits AND the access and resources that being established bring.  What a great place to be if you can get it right!

There are many other opportunities and of course challenges, but the first step is to understand what is changing and be open and willing to embrace new ideas.  Smart leaders have always done this but the rate of change is such that organisations now need to proactively support all of their leaders and managers in understanding the future of work.

That’s the way to turn a potential vulnerability into a competitive advantage!

If you’d like to inspire and enable your leaders to better engage their teams by embracing the future of work, then call Simon on 020 3488 0464 or email simon@simonwalker.org