The “future of work” is one of those buzz-phrases that’s been around for a good half-decade now. Often it’s used in tandem with digital transformation, or DX, to describe how we’ll be working as far as mobility and communicability are concerned.
There’s something missing though. A human revolution is occurring in the workplace that will give rise (or fall, to be more specific) to the next Kodak story if leaders and businesses are not focused and decisive now on the implementation of digital change through their people, processes, and culture.
A fresh name for tech transformation
The funky DX acronym sounds fresh, but digital transformation isn’t a new thing. Air quotes DX has been around for close to three decades.
Kodak started to fall afoul of it in the early ’90s, and it’s something they helped to invent!
But we’ve all learned from their misfortune and inability to change, right? We’ve all absorbed the case study in our business courses and we’ve read Who Moved My Cheese, so it won’t happen to us … right?
Here’s the thing, digital transformation is a constant now. It’s ongoing. It’s part of the furniture. It’s time to move on to business transformation. And that transformation is all about leadership and people. What’s vital for today’s leaders to understand is that the future of work has arrived.
What about the future of leadership?
“The future of leadership will see employees being given far more freedom and opportunity. The days of successful leaders being overly controlling are numbered – new ways of working mean flexibility and empowerment will become central to businesses large and small.” – Richard Branson
Mr. Branson said that in 2013, and the Virgin Group’s ongoing success has been built on the backs of people. Virgin trusts employees to run with their ideas and do their jobs. Virgin just lets them get on with it.
It’s important to understand air quotes DX hasn’t just happened in business. It has also happened to people. Today’s employees are digital natives who are caring global citizens and who want to work for a like-minded employer that gives their work meaning and purpose.
Your people have changed… have you?
We spend 80% of our lives at work, and while employees used to rail at the idea of being contactable all the time, they don’t anymore. Device-agnostic technology exists now for them to blur the lines between work and personal time even more, and they’re happy to do it if their employer grants them that flexibility.
So what business leaders need to realize, and realize now, is that their employees don’t believe in a job for life, so any remnants of the “you’re lucky to have a job” culture will see people find somewhere else to work. Employers must have a stated purpose that their employees believe in; otherwise, they will disengage and disappear. The next Kodak story will be a company whose leaders aren’t attuned to the need for business transformation through a different attitude to their culture and people.
Now is the time
The biggest challenge for a business is communicating how important it is to let go of cultures and systems that constrain their people and to just trust those people to get on with their jobs.
I believe there are huge opportunities for the leaders who do this, and who do it now, because it’s not about the future of work. That future is here. It’s today.
Learn more about strengthening your focus on people, process, and technology; see Innovative Companies Think Differently About People.