Empowered Work: The Changing World of Work, Workers and Workspaces

Change is the only constant in life. But often, change is so gradual and imperceptible that we don’t really notice it until a cataclysmic event happens. Similarly, the future of work, workers, and workspaces has been changing over the last few decades, being continually reshaped by increasing globalization, the need for greater workplace flexibility, economic and socio-political shifts, and the rapid pace of digital and technological advancements. But it took a global pandemic to force a fundamental change in how we work.

  • Many organizations became more productive, but virtual meeting fatigue also became a harsh reality.
  • People want to work remote permanently, but many miss the office culture and collaboration.
  • A lot of work can be done online, but many jobs cannot be done remotely, and some work is better accomplished face to face.
  • The workplace is now the workspace—the office is wherever you choose to work from—remote, hybrid or a physical location.

Now, we are on the back end of this major shift and a recent study reveals that 40% of employees are considering leaving their current employers and looking for new opportunities that offer more flexibility. Several factors are influencing what’s being called “The Great Resignation”:

  • Flexibility of remote work
  • Hesitancy to return to the office with the virus still not fully contained
  • Burnout from extra workloads and stress
  • People have rethought their careers and, in some cases, are making major professional and personal changes to their lives.

The last point is particularly pertinent as people’s personal and professional lives have never been more intertwined, and employers are realizing they have an increasing responsibility to look out for the whole employee—their professional and personal wellbeing—and focus on human-centric, empowered work. Employees are now looking to their employers to provide them with more than just a paycheck. Organizations are expanding to offer senior care, mental care, parental leave, more affordable childcare, among other benefits.

Preparing for the New Human-Centric Work, Worker and Workspace

To become a human-centric employer, leaders can no longer think about “people, processes, and technology” as three separate issues to drive the greatest impact but play off their strengths and use their combined power. Organizations need to:

  • Rethink productivity through the lens of efficiency with tools and technologies
  • Focus on impact or outcome, rather than the number of activities or hours spent
  • Train and upskill employees and grow new leaders
  • Foster collaborative and secure, virtual-on-demand workspaces
  • Create a diverse, sustainable, and socially aware work culture

The new, human-centric approach offers incredible opportunities for both employees and employers to rethink what “work” means, how to be successful in the new model and how to balance personal and professional lives—in essence, helping humans thrive. Here are the key trends that support empowered work:

  • Employee Health and Wellbeing: With the aftermath of the global pandemic, organizations should increasingly look for employee-centric workforce models, and invest in the success, growth, and happiness of employees to drive meaningful long-term business outcomes.
  • Technology Adoption, Automation and AI: Adoption of intelligent systems will transform work, and human-machine interactions will replace repetitive and labor-intensive tasks. This will allow organizations to seek talent that relies on social intelligence, people skills and human ingenuity, among others.
  • New Work Models and Global, Diverse and Distributed Workforce: Workers are demanding work from anywhere, anytime, sparking employers to think about the workspaces their employees need most. Organizations of all sizes, as well as government agencies will need to create newer models of work, including hybrid workspaces and satellite offices, that will help them increase diverse workforce, enhance workplace productivity, transcend generational and sectoral boundaries while promoting richer community relationships, and ensure work-life balance for employees. There will also be greater opportunities for organizations to tap into global talent and gain a distributed and diverse workforce that is both culturally and financially rewarding.
  • Cyberthreat Resilience: The rise of the digital workplace has seen an increase in cyberattacks and this will likely continue with the increase of physical, hybrid and digital workplaces. In fact, nearly five in six organizations (83%) have completely re-thought their IT security to accommodate new ways of working brought about by the pandemic according to NTT’s 2020 Intelligent Workplace Report. Organizations must invest time and talent in cybersecurity and keep their employees, partners and clients safe.
  • New Leaders, New Culture: Leadership and organization culture will be redefined as the world of work continues to transform. Organizations will seek to create corporate cultures that reward passion, creativity, and self-initiative at both the leadership and employee levels and better embrace, navigate and manage change, drive alignment and adoption.
Kim Curley

Kim Curley

Vice President, Workforce Readiness Practice, NTT DATA Services

Listen to Kim discuss The Great Resignation and The Great Experiment – and her perspective of the renewed focus on organization culture and the human side of business

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Taking a Human-Centric Approach to Work, Workers and Workspaces

The future of work is being reimagined and reinvented, and cultural, social and digital technology shifts are resetting worker expectations. Empowered work requires a collaborative, mobile, secure and inclusive work culture, regardless of physical location. Employers must adopt human-centric design that fosters productivity and elevates employee experience, while providing workspaces that bring out the best in their employees.

Empowering the Worker

Empowering workers means focusing on the human side of the business—providing opportunities and the flexibility to learn, grow, connect, promote equity and make a professional and personal impact. “Employers are expected to increase collaboration, improve customer and employee experience, provide secure anywhere/anytime workspaces, provide training opportunities, grow leaders, build and sustain a thriving culture - all with a workforce that is often dispersed,” says Maribel Lopez, founder and principal analyst, Lopez Research. Eric Clark, Chief Digital & Strategy Officer, NTT DATA Services agrees. “Employers have an increasing responsibility to look out for the whole person including keeping employees engaged and efficient and able to provide the most impact.”

Empower workers by:

  • Training and upskilling employees
  • Creating hubs for clients and employees to collaborate
  • Fostering diversity and creating and inclusive culture in your workforce
  • Redesigning HR process with a human-centric approach
  • Focusing on organizational change management
  • Putting the employee experience at the heart of your operations

Empowering Work

Empowering work means having the right tools and technology for employers to offer the best environment to their employees, for superior user experience and one where employee engagement is never in question. Organizations should take a fresh look at the parameters and potential of workplace technology and IT, while training and upskilling employees to support the needs of the future versus the manual repetitive tasks of today. Planning for future scenarios is a cross-functional, collaborative endeavor that requires expertise from business operations, human resources, finance and each enterprise function.

Empower work by:

  • Providing seamless IT experience via automated service desk, cloud-based unified endpoint management and cloud-based virtual desktops
  • Improving the employee experience with modernized field services
  • Creating solutions for human and bot collaboration

Empowering the Workspace

Empowering the workspace means rethinking physical facilities to make the office a modernized, destination and increase collaboration across locations and geographies for employees and clients. This next decade will see a significant change in how companies manage commercial real estate and how IT will oversee hybrid, physical and digital work environments that can be instantly repurposed to accommodate various user profiles, with a focus on collaborative space and ideation. Lopez says, “Companies need to have a 360-degree view and a vision that includes automating tasks, upskilling teams and digital collaboration, that enables workplace efficiency and workforce equity.”

Empower the workspace by:

  • Providing collaboration tools for seamless employee communications and teaming
  • Keeping digital and security at the heart of your workplace solution
  • Establishing hub-cities and reconfigurable workspaces with smart-space technologies

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Eric Clark

Eric Clark

Chief Digital & Strategy Officer,  NTT DATA Services

“Employers have an increasing responsibility to look out for the whole person including keeping employees engaged and efficient and able to provide the most impact.”

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