During the past few volatile years, major cultural and technological shifts have made it clear that the nature of work is changing. Organizations of all types are exploring how to interact with customers and employees online, drive new levels of efficiency through digital transformation, and engage with employees who are reevaluating what they want out of life and work. Many unknowns remain for how to best navigate these changes, making enterprise change management a larger undertaking than ever.
The one certainty is that companies must find ways to effectively manage needed organizational changes to remain competitive. Creating a new “future of work” depends upon leadership taking steps to address three areas critical to organizational change: digital transformation, organizational structure, and the employer-employee relationship.
1. Digital transformation
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies wanted to boost their efficiency and set themselves apart with a digital transformation. Yet those organizations had the luxury of picking one area to digitize at a time: how they manage work inside their company or how they interface with customers outside their company.
Then COVID hit, and the world went virtual. Digital transformations moved from simply serving as an efficiency booster to a business necessity. This transformation has expanded to touch all areas of business. In addition to earlier priorities, technology is a must for managing the shift to remote work and accelerating the push toward ecommerce and digital product development. Each of these priorities carry a range of moving parts around hiring and training staff, rethinking workflow, and more.
Today, many IT and C-suite leaders find themselves overwhelmed by the simultaneous process of reinventing consumer interactions and internal workflows. These executives are finding they must translate the complex web of changes impacting their teams into a clear vision for the future and simple, digestible, meaningful actions they can take to triage the moving parts and make progress in their day-to-day work.
2. Organizational structure
As companies emerge from the pandemic and position themselves for long-term success, they face intense external pressures. Rising to face these pressures will require organizational models that improve speed and agility.
This isn’t the first challenge to push a widespread rethinking of operational efficiency, and that offers some insight for the enterprise change management needed now. Companies can look to the early 2000s wave of operational reinvention that came in the form of centralizing certain critical functions while offshoring or outsourcing other activities. Today, those companies that didn’t centralize and offshore in the first 20 years of the century are doing so now in order to drive efficiency and specialization, and refocus resources on innovation.
Leadership today must take steps to create more agile organizational structures that can free up resources for the innovation and reinvention required for survival. This will have a major impact on people’s roles within the organization. Executives will have to find ways to support their people in reinventing themselves quickly in order to adapt to the changing environment.
3. The employer-employee relationship
In order to retain top talent, employers have long felt the need to address employee engagement. However, the nature of employee engagement changed in 2020, pushing employers’ concerns to the forefront. The pandemic caused employers to place more urgency on work-life balance as it went from “nice to have” to “must have” for employees prioritizing personal challenges ranging from illness to nonexistent childcare. Taking this into account, once the pandemic showed signs of easing in 2021 employers set out to ambitiously redefine the future of work.
Employers are recognizing that the “future of work” is now. Companies must come to terms with the current state of work before pushing it in an entirely new direction. For many organizations, this demands that leadership develop their ability to help employees feel connected and cared for, and give them the flexibility they need to manage how they work, when they work and where they work.
Strategies needed to smoothly manage change
Many organizations have noted that the pandemic has accelerated the pace of change, but at Notion Consulting we don’t see the faster pace as a problem. Companies have needed to change, and the fact that businesses are developing strategies today to drive change is a positive trend.
In early 2020, Notion released its Change 2020 study, outlining 10 strategies successful leaders across 50 Fortune 500 companies were using to support effective enterprise change management. While the nature of work has changed in 2022, the challenges companies face are much the same, as are the solutions. In our next blog post, we’ll dive into how companies addressing the three business imperatives outlined above are applying Change 2020 takeaways to move forward.
If you’re ready to start driving this change today, contact Notion.