Digitally enabled collaboration through hybrid working models now seems critical to all our futures. The question is, are you ready? Alongside technological advances, your employees will need new skills and capabilities to thrive.
21 September 2022 • 5 min read
The new digitally enabled world of work has presented us all with a range of challenges. The most obvious ones relate to technology. Such has been the pace of change, it is easy to forget there was a time when hosting a video conference, for example, was considered a rare and specialist skill. Thinking back to 2020’s growth in Microsoft Teams users from 20 million to 75 million perhaps best illustrates how quickly things can change.
Access to new technology is, of course, only the start. Remote and hybrid work require a suite of new, softer, more personal and harder-to-define skills.
Giving people access to new technology is, of course, only the start. It is relatively straightforward too. Remote and hybrid work require a suite of new, softer, more personal and harder-to-define skills. Organizing work, collaborating, managing and communicating all feel different when you’re working apart from your colleagues. Remote staff can often struggle to manage their agendas and workloads, for example, with no colleagues nearby to check in with or bounce ideas off.
Remote screen, email and chat-based communication need a different skill set than face-to-face engagement. In EMEA, 74% of workers, according to a recent survey, found it difficult to be part of, or contribute to, online conversations compared to ‘real life’, and 76% complained of feeling disengaged by the process. Supervision can also be challenging when you’re not regularly close to your reports. Another recent remote working report suggested that 80% of leaders found hybrid setups emotionally exhausting.
Once you start talking about these challenges, it is clear digital transformations raise varied and complex soft skills and people issues. With more than 9 out of 10 organizations claiming to be involved in some kind of digital initiative, these are prevalent problems.
Thanks to lockdown, we can all relate to being forced to change our behaviors and mindset too. We ought to, therefore, recognize there is more to get our heads around than new software, tools or devices as a result of advances in communication technology. If you’re a leader, it is important to stay close to your teams and make the effort to understand any issues that concern them.
In doing so, there is a temptation to divide workers into three categories: those that work from the office, those that work remotely and those that work in a hybrid model. Such differentiation might be less relevant than you think because, however an employee works, the overall trend is toward flexibility.
At NTT DATA, for example, our work is increasingly global. We routinely work across borders, not to mention time zones. Almost all our projects, as a result, include a remote aspect. One or more of the team members on any given task will be dialing in from a different location and, incidentally, may come from a different culture. Meetings with external organizations such as clients and suppliers will often be managed remotely too.
This has been generally proven to be a productive way of working. As a result, it has been adopted by 63% of high-growth companies and feels a permanent fixture in today’s constant search for a competitive edge.
Ignoring the opportunities that digitally enabled collaboration presents for growth means you are likely to be left behind.
So even if, like 34% of knowledge workers, you have fully returned to the office, you can’t turn back the clock. Ignoring the opportunities that digitally enabled collaboration presents for growth means you are likely to be left behind. My tip? Don’t hesitate to help your people team-build and socialize online. The sooner you do, the better.
It’s one thing to come to this realization, and another to know what to do about it. Like other technology companies, at NTT DATA we talk to our clients about their digital maturity levels. We have a series of diagnostic tools that identify strengths and improvement points, and we then prioritize tasks to help our clients reach higher levels of maturity.
In all, we assess 13 digital competences using a framework across four main areas – Technology Innovation, People Success, Digital Brand and Data Technology – and assess aptitude levels and characterize performance through archetypes (such as ‘Digital Sleeper’ and ‘Innovation Pioneer’).
Our inclusion of competencies relating to people is in recognition of the fact that digital maturity does not just mean having the best technology. Alongside systems, tools, organizational structures and operations, it is vital to understand cultural aspects of change.
The way we approach it is by considering five people-focused steps: information, awareness, training, experimentation and recognition. You should be able to identify where your people lie, at any point, in relation to these five steps.
Sharing information and raising awareness are both great ways of starting your transformation process while learning how your people feel. Then, change management processes can be supported by a range of digital assets.
As part of the suite of services and partnerships which make up Liquid Workplace (supporting our clients with hybrid working), NTT DATA has just launched a new digital learning platform, Melt Learning, which we offer to both clients and our employees. With elements of gamification, self-directed learning and community interaction, the platform delivers corporate training, re/upskilling and education on navigating new digital environments.
Recent reports are stark: a 2022 global index showed three in four workers don’t have the digital skills needed by businesses. But with a learning environment that’s actually engaging – and tailored to the individual – that gap will steadily close.
Integrated within Microsoft Teams, Melt is based on personalization, open collaboration and equipping people with the key skills they need for change. Melt’s principles can be applied to any online learning environment to help organizations address the shortage in workplace digital skills:
The most powerful enablers of change and growth remain the softer skills, those of empathy, communication, adaptability, coaching and trust building.
But however you approach the challenge, the most powerful enablers of change and growth remain the softer skills, those of empathy, communication, adaptability, coaching and trust building. This is because issuing instructions about technology alone won’t necessarily lead to understanding. Colleagues need to recognize new ways of working as improvements, and successes need to be validated for digital transformation to succeed.
It is incredibly hard to predict how tomorrow’s advances in AI, virtual reality or any other technology might change digital skills adoption and training processes. However, the principles I’ve shared above are based on certainties of behavioral science. Derived from the fixed realities of human nature, they mean changes in mindset will always be best supported by human-focused training, skills development and guidance. My prediction is that a people-to-people approach will continue to play a vital role in all our futures.
Discover more inPost-Covid workplace
Worldwide retention of top talent has been an organisational issue for some time now. The recent ‘turnover tsunami’ headlines show us the problem isn’t getting better. Here’s how NTT DATA Business Solutions Turkey, Middle East and North Africa have managed to retain 97% of new employees in the last five years.
01 September 2021 • 4min read
Covid has changed almost everything about how we work, and now HR is undergoing a revolution. HR’s most important role, arguably, is improving the employee experience – in turn contributing to profitability, competitiveness and, of course, the happiness of the workforce. Here’s how data and analytics support this aim.
01 February 2022 • 5min read
We often display more resilience and inventiveness in times of crises than during business-as-usual. Can our response to pandemics and other devastating events provide us with lessons for change and innovation?
01 February 2021 • 5min read
Leaders will need to learn to manage wellbeing and the social aspects of team relationships, if they want to successfully build connection and productivity in the workplace of the future.
21 September 2022 • 5min read
Crises are usually accompanied by a host of challenges to overcome. Vicki Chauhan, Head of Public Sector at NTT DATA UK, is focusing on opportunities for improvement born out of the recent global pandemic.
01 February 2021 • 3min read
Future-proofing our organisations is only possible when we start to see the world through a new lens, and adjust to conditions of uncertainty with radical rethinking.
01 October 2020 • 4min read
In a world where talent is demanding flexibility and employers want connection, data can provide the answer. Using the data you already have available in your office building can help you both to maximize resources, and make the office attractive to employees.
21 September 2022 • 4min read
With organizations currently looking at an increasingly detached workforce and a fierce talent war, a human-centered approach to HR is certainly gaining traction. This is where design thinking comes into play – to remain competitive, companies need to involve people in co-designing an environment where they want to show up.
21 September 2022 • 5min read
Inclusive leadership is more critical than ever as we continue to navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic. Leaders are working to maintain productivity, collaboration, and innovation during these challenging times. Those who can also address amplified issues around inclusion and belonging in a distributed workforce will be primed for superior organisational performance in the future.
01 February 2022 • 4min read
Organisations looking to urgently improve agility across the enterprise will find that their leaders across all levels need support in making a mindset shift. To make this shift is neither instant nor effortless, organisations must make, model and coach for it to ensure the success of agile initiatives.
01 June 2021 • 5min read
The pandemic forced businesses and organizations to abandon the physical office and adopt remote working. But with Covid now seemingly behind us, and hybrid practices well-established, is there a danger that without face-to-face interaction, organizations will lose the very thing that keeps them connected?
21 September 2022 • 6min read
With so much upheaval to the work environment in just a few years, our expectations of and relationship with work have changed completely. How can organizations prepare for these shifts as employees set new boundaries and seek purpose at work?
21 September 2022 • 5min read
Smarter and more sustainable workplaces are essential for all businesses as we tentatively emerge from the restrictions of the pandemic. Technology is pivotal in not only providing a seamless user experience but also in building a greener IT strategy.
01 September 2021 • 6min read
A new kind of connectivity has emerged from the global health crisis and ensuing economic challenges of the last few years. Advancing technologies coupled with new ways of living and working have changed our needs for connection. With these changes, the corporate landscape must be reimagined.
01 October 2020 • 4min read
As we enter a new era of work, three key elements can help employee and employer alike respond favourably to the shift: communication, learning and a reimagined workplace. Taken together, these elements offer a model for truly smart working.
01 June 2021 • 4min read
In Italy, an experiment is redefining everything we know about the modern workplace. A ‘zero kilometre’ office, designed to promote relationships that transcend generational and sectoral boundaries - and overcome the conundrum of working safely and effectively in the post-Covid world.
01 June 2021 • 4min read
Welcome to the third issue of CXO Magazine. Our theme for this issue is ‘Agility in the Age of Disruption’
01 June 2021 • 2min read
How is the Covid-19 pandemic different from other crises, and how can organisations build resilience? A well kept secret of the most successful companies across the globe is speed-to-learn. If you can learn quickly, you can change quickly, and if you can change quickly, you can capitalise on crises, extreme events, and the ever-shifting inclinations of consumers.
01 February 2021 • 1min read
The sudden shock of the changes brought about as a result of coronavirus has passed, and we are now settling into what is likely to be a long period of working from home. Our sister companies, particularly NTT DATA Italia, have been coping with this situation for some time already, and we have benefitted from their experience. We would like to share some of what they have discovered.
01 June 2021 • 1min read
No industry has been left untouched by the pandemic. Since its onset, companies have been in a constant state of heightened flux: adjusting, recovering or strategising for the future, and all eyes have been on the technology that has helped carry them through. As the economy starts to recover, organisations must pivot to meet any challenge head-on.
01 February 2022 • 1min read