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 • 4 min read
Reimagining the corporate landscape in line with new forms of, and demands for, human interaction involves understanding the needs of employees as much as customers. Whether in person or virtually, we all have an innate desire to connect with other humans. The ‘new connectivity’ is about the need to secure existing paths of connection, and identify new ones. For businesses to thrive, they need to develop this new connectivity; it requires innovation, agility and humanity – or businesses risk losing everything.
Businesses unable to modernise simultaneously their thinking and their technology have been shuttering for decades, such as the well-known parable of Blockbuster’s decline from over 9,000 US stores in the late nineties to just one today. Recently, Covid-19 has hastened the demise of major brands, such as Global Brands USA (which licenses All Saints and is a wholesaler to major retailers including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Costco) and Lorna Jane (the Australian activewear retailer), who both filed for bankruptcy in 2021.
Other companies, however, have quickly adapted to the new market conditions. Pet brand Chewy, for example, reported a growth of 24% in their Q3 earnings report in 2021, with their shareholder letter noting a mission to be the ‘most trusted and convenient destination for pet parents and partners’. Looking beyond the traditional focus on customer experience, Chewy has adopted a broader lens to grow the connections between the pet owner, their brand and partners. Remarkably, Chewy has been successfully in a model that previously failed during the dot-com boom.
Who will rise and who will fall in our current (and future) marketplace will be determined by the ability to forge new connections.
Today, businesses operate in a patchwork set of working norms, with leaders adapting to a changing landscape. Hybrid, safe, flexible work solutions are here. Just two years ago, no-one would have believed that entire workforces would be working from their homes instead of offices, on virtual video calls for endless hours.
Habits have changed, but the need for connectivity remains a constant.
Habits have changed, but the need for connectivity remains a constant. Having the digital tools in place is not enough, though; understanding holistic customer and employee engagement is essential.
A 2020 study into consumer preferences in times of distress revealed that from mid-March of that year, the number of phone calls with customer service agents jumped from 12% to 100%. As leaders directed customers to work from home and in isolation, their need to interact with another person skyrocketed.
Similar challenges have been reported in the workforce. Fatigue from long spells in front of video calls can have real, lasting physical and mental effects. Employers must recognise and work to alleviate these new workplace risks.
There is also a call for leaders to understand the need for higher connectivity – a cause, a purpose, a mission. And with the new frontiers of boundaryless working, organisations can build truly diverse teams with surprisingly impactful results.
The ‘great resignation’ is a prevalent example of the damaging disconnection between employees and organisations. In 2021, some 38 million workers quit their job in the US alone, with the largest reported resignations in the tech and healthcare industries. One survey of those who resigned last year cited a toxic workplace culture as the primary reason for their resignation, followed by job insecurity and reorganisation. Promisingly, these reasons are very much within an organisation’s ability to solve.
Building the connection between the workforce and leadership means:
Allowing for diverse thought by reducing vertical hierarchies and creating platforms for inclusion and lateral movement;
Understanding the emotional touchpoints of the workforce;
Understanding the interplay between the customer and the employee.
The generational composition of the workforce is approximately 5% Generation Z (born 2000s onwards), 35% Millennials (early 1980s onwards) and 33% Generation X (mid-1960s onwards), with Baby Boomers and Traditionalists (or ‘the Silent Generation’) making up the remainder.
Gen Z, perhaps unexpectedly, are the most pro-office, whereas the now mid-40s and older Gen X prefer working from home, as do the Baby Boomers. Much research has shown that the younger cohorts, Millennials and Gen Z, are the significant players in the great resignation.
Understanding the differing preferences amongst the generations is crucial to ensure the connectivity between all employees is designed with fairness and inclusivity in mind – or else engagement will quickly suffer.
To grow connectivity amongst a workforce with multi-dimensional requirements, leaders can:
Build a diverse, multigenerational workforce that creates policies based on real user needs;
Effectively capture and share knowledge across all teams;
Foster an ethos of open collaboration;
Implement flexible working arrangements to suit the needs of all generations.
Digital tools and powerful analytics drive collective empowerment across the workforce and customer base.
Naturally, there is another critical ingredient for effective connectivity: technology and data. Digital tools and powerful analytics drive collective empowerment across the workforce and customer base. In choosing tools, purpose must be at the heart of the decision.
Intelligent organisations choose their technology wisely. Useful questions to ask are:
What’s the connection between technology and customer satisfaction?
What’s the connection between the technology used in day-to-day operations and employee wellbeing?
How can technology be used to deliver training across the workforce that minimises or eliminates the effects of Zoom fatigue?
Which systems get a positive response from your employees (and which do they avoid like the plague)?
Could employee wellbeing software be used to help?
Keep your workforce connected – with flat structures and an open, respectful culture that accounts for differences in age and background – and enterprise tools that are chosen wisely.
For businesses to grow, this new form of connectivity is essential. In practice, this means rising to the new challenges faced by workers today and helping them through, such as recognising the effect of remote working on employees’ lives and changing processes to reduce stress any way possible. It also means keeping your workforce connected – with flat structures and an open, respectful culture that accounts for differences in age and background – and enterprise tools that are chosen wisely.
The success and survival of organisations today hinges on people and fostering the connections between them. By behaving intelligently and sensitively, organisations will not only combat the great resignation, but defend, grow and thrive in the new, post-Covid world.
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
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 • 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
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