Everybody needs to be prepared for a new digital workplace

digital workplaceGraduates today are largely considered to be the ‘net generation’. Growing up whilst social media accelerated, their years in higher education have been synonymous with digital literacy, even before COVID-19 turned their studies entirely virtual. This monumental move into a digital workplace also echoed throughout the job market. As offices closed in Spring and millions were furloughed across hospitality, retail and travel, demand spiked by 36 percent for roles advertised in the digital tech sector.

Fittingly, our new generation is equipped with skills that current employees have had to learn on or off the job. Once blocked by financial barriers, you can gain a basic understanding of data analysis or coding through ‘explainer’ videos on YouTube or free online e-libraries. Even the recruitment process itself is completely digitised – every 60 seconds in 2020, LinkedIn users apply for 69,444 jobs through the platform.

There will be a certain level of expectation from graduates who have become accustomed to faster ways of working. For instance, using the G-Suite and cloud operated programmes may well become a factor in the decision making process when applying for jobs.

Simultaneously, companies are adjusting to hybrid working between the physical and digital workplace. We’re operating at a faster, more multifaceted pace than ever before, not in a ‘new normal’, but a digital future with a generation poised to hit the ground running.

So on top of democratising data, leaders should employ a new array of tactics as they adapt their culture and infrastructure, but without alienating their current workforce


New incentives

Digital transformation starts with a change in mindset. Digital immigrants have had to adapt to the new language of technology, but their lack of skill does not reflect an unwillingness to learn. Sufficient training and onboarding for any new technology is crucial, but even more so for those who have been embedded in older processes and legacy technology.

For those who are less willing to upskill themselves, monetary benefits or framing a new technology as a source of innovative solutions to established problems can usher employees in the right direction, as seen in Harvard Business Review.

Leaders are aware of the changes that must be made to drive out legacy technology, however, the impact that this can have for employees at a human-level is often overlooked.

The delivery strategy of technology upgrades must be appropriate and sensitive. It is important for leaders to acknowledge the difficulties this change may bring for employees who have ingrained legacy technologies into their work, whilst also providing training on the most up to date technology – e.g. moving from offline systems such as Excel to online systems such as Google Sheets.


Make remote working work

With government guidelines changing day by day, we should have all accepted by now that remote working is here for the long term. We are past the point of adjustment, but some are still treating it like an interim.

It’s important for leaders to take a step back to assess how their employees have adapted with their ways of working and work which takes place in both a physical and digital workplace. The net-generation may be used to remote working, however the older generations are more likely to have seen this as temporary. A feeling of security must be created for those who are struggling to adapt to this shift, aided with equal access to vital resources. The resources (or data sets) required will differ per sector; for example those working in retail will likely require entire supply-chain transparency, whereas those in finance will need profit and loss forecasts.

It’s now in the hands of our leaders to cater for the next generation of employees while adapting and upskilling the existing workforce. This balance will enable organisations to remain agile and more importantly profitable as we progress into a future of hybrid working.