The working environment is rapidly being transformed through changes in technology, regulation, demographics and sociological trends. To succeed in this ever-evolving environment, both businesses and their leaders will need to be prepared to learn, adapt and flex to the changing requirements of our future economy and workforce.
Two fundamental issues currently facing organisations are; firstly, operational challenges such as cost, productivity, knowledge-transfer and staff retention; and secondly, cultural challenges found in a fluid and diverse workforce that craves and expects autonomy and personal growth.
The many demands on employees today, combined with the different attitudes to work in a multi-generational workforce, will force employers to become innovative and flexible in how they operate and conduct business. Consequently, these shifts will give rise to a departure from the more traditional approach to work that many existing employees are accustomed to. The facilitation of a more flexible working environment will boost diversity by enabling people from different backgrounds and circumstances to continue to work together in new ways and excel.
Fundamentally, by facilitating a more flexible and fluid working environment, we are ultimately creating a culture of diversity. Studies have shown that inclusivity is crucial to unlocking the performance of employees, which can only be viewed as a huge positive for any organisation. Creating a diversified workforce, which encourages independence, initiative and collaboration, will be the key to success, and better decisions are made when diverse views are shared and listened to.
So, does the quest to create a more flexible and diverse working environment render obsolete the traditional centralised office? On the contrary, many business organisations continue to place more value on direct conference and collaboration with others, with a focus on understanding that the consultation process with peers is paramount to successfully facilitating knowledge sharing, collaboration and nurturing of long-standing and trusted relationships. Furthermore, whilst it is widely recognised that technology has and will continue to have a significant impact on the workplace, the value to be gained both personally and professionally from face-to-face contact cannot be under-estimated. It’s not about either working remotely or all together in a centralised office; it’s about both. And it’s about giving people choices that work for them and their organisation.
Ultimately, people at all levels within an organisation want to be heard and trusted: they want the opportunity to continually improve and develop. The first step for any organisation will continue to be attracting great talent, but the organisations that retain that talent will be the ones that actively promote inclusivity, flexibility and diversity.