Automation and machine learning are replacing human tasks in the workforce. These technological advancements are changing the way organizations are looking for skills in the people they hire and what is considered value in terms of human capital. New technologies and ways of working disrupt jobs and the skill set needed to complete tasks. McKinsey Global estimated 60% of occupations had 30% of work activities that could be automated by 2030— approximately 375 million workers globally would need to switch jobs or acquire new skills. Competing forces in the remote environment are forcing companies to prepare their organizations for the workforce of the future. According to PwC, the working environment will navigate to four worlds, coded as Red, Blue, Yellow and Green. The red world is based on innovation rules and digitization. The blue world believes corporations are king- bigger is better- scale and influence are key to growth. A Yellow world is a social-first, community-based world in which humans are valued. The green world indicates corporate responsibility as key to putting societal purpose at the heart of marketing strategies.
Assessment of Current Challenges with Remote Working Environment
- Most remote workers supply their own equipment, leading to inconsistencies, decreased productivity, information transfer issues, and adds time to the workday.
- Building a remote team culture requires deliberate thought and proactive effort to shape.
- The way work is completed in response to the corona virus crisis has caused organizations to experience difficulties building working models that integrate people with technologies.
- Companies have had to adjust the approach to managing employees under the new normal, as 8-hour days do not always take place in a traditional schedule.
- The challenges of geographically dispersed employees can be difficult when a company is ill-equipped to manage the people, technology, brand, and culture across multiple locations.
Digital Platforms for Communication and Project Orientation that Enhance Remote Working Capabilities
- For those companies that are aware of both the business and cultural challenges of remote work, enterprise social networks are already proving invaluable.
- The biggest technical challenge in having virtual employees using mobile devices is protecting sensitive data, that can be comprised, through cyber security measures- resulting in major costs to companies and reputations.
- Corporate communications platforms (intranets) have become equally vital as employees rely on these sources for updates and direction.
- Project management can be impossible when team members are dispersed across geographic locations, therefore, depending on the industry and types of projects, online tools exist to align team members, assign tasks, track progress, and make changes (time stamps, communication threads, and project status updates).
- Video conferencing and online apps like Zoom, Slack, Lucidchart, Google Drive, HubStaff, Xero and MindMap help employees document projects and the development process.
- Video calls allow teams to have full conversations instead of using text or emails to communicate when working on large projects.
- Software platforms (with screen sharing capabilities) and collaborative tools such as Google Sheets and Google Docs, OneDrive, Microsoft.NET, and SAP for workforce planning make it possible to work together in real-time.
Company Assessment of the Remote Workforce- Understanding Skill Base and Future Automation Capabilities
- Organizations need to assess current workforce skills, determine future needs, and create a road map to bridge the gaps.
- Managing a distributed workforce is stressful, therefore, it is important to regularly evaluate what is working and what is not in terms of skill sets and automation capabilities.
- Remote work creates early-stage challenges for organizations across operating-model dimensions (people, structure, process, and technology) that cause increased demand for advanced technology skills.
- 82% of global executives at companies with more than $100 million in annual revenues expect up-skilling and re-skilling current employees will be 50% of the solution to addressing the skills’ gap required to implement newer technologies.
- Organizations need to leverage digital talent marketplace platforms to bridge the gap between the supply and demand mismatch of skills to be competitive in a remote working environment.
Community and Team Building Within a Remote Workforce
- One of the biggest challenges of working remotely is team communication that helps keep teams productive and cohesive.
- Strategies to build cohesive teams: promote proactive communication, schedule daily huddles, set expectations, avoid micromanaging, adopt new communication tools, give more lead time, and keep an office culture in the remote environment.
- It is important to remember different time zones and flexible schedules create problems with workflow and team collaboration.
- Four strategies to build a community for a remote workforce: promote spontaneous conversations, allow for social interaction in meetings, encourage collaboration at all levels, and supervise responsibly through regularly scheduled progress meetings that honor work schedules.
- Team building activities help companies achieve better overall communication, improve creativity among teams, breakdown barriers and silos, reveal hidden talents, aid in conflict resolution, and builds trust between team members.
Outreach to Potential Clients in a Remote Working Environment
- In a remote environment, an employee needs to know the value they bring to the table- it is about making a connection- employees must now have sales skills to screen potential clients.
- Remote employees should recognize cues from the target audience to establish the channel of communication to be used.
- Asking thought-provoking questions serve as a springboard into a broader conversation about how the company can help a potential client, especially when remote employees do not have in-office collaboration.
- Spending financial resources to automate sales outreach is a must, as it allows a company with remote workers to maintain regular contact with customers and to take advantage of various metrics.
- The best ways to build trust with strangers is for marketing departments to develop a personalized outreach strategy that remote employees can use to build interest.
- As remote working continues, a key factor in driving client outreach is a company’s financial capability to implement CRM software that records every interaction with a potential client, allowing employees across geographies access to all relevant data.
Relevance between Consumers, Organizational Branding Strategies, and the Remote Workforce
- A company’s brand message must be consistently delivered by every employee or it weakens the credibility of the company with consumers.
- Achieving a performing remote workplace culture is challenging at best; therefore, implementing a central hub- an LMS (learning management system)- for branded content, and consistent training on the products and services offered is key to building trust with consumers.
- Leadership teams are responsible for setting the strategic vision of the company and determining if new technologies are required to gain a competitive advantage so that remote workers are assured of what is expected.
- Companies will need to adjust product and service offerings and geographic footprint, as the separation of local economies affects labor costs and consumer purchasing power.
- Today’s business circumstances are radically different, and as such, companies must reassess their messaging to address the customers’ new reality and engage with consideration and genuine interest.
Focus on Social Awareness Amid Remote Work
- The social enterprise in a remote working environment embodies a new set of attributes- purpose, potential and prospective for companies to maintain sustainability.
- A company can create a socially responsible mission statement by focusing on their overall vision, and scale it down, specifically, what to achieve, and how it will impact the business, community and industry.
- The benefit to remote working is its environmental contribution- employees working from home commuting less translating to fewer carbon emissions.
- Companies addressing sustainability and social responsibility are shifting to greener offices, diverse work-station ergonomics, and careful protection of the rights and desires of employees.
- The remote workforce paradigm shift motivates job seekers to apply, retains and satisfies existing staff, and makes a positive impact on the socially responsible company and consumers.
Incubators for Innovation
- The remote workspace changes the nature of collaboration and creates barriers for creativity and innovation.
- Because of the corona virus crisis, there is a unique opportunity for organizations to build connections, paving a path forward to nurture growth and innovation.
- Companies must re-imagine the balance between collaboration and productivity to usher in a new resurgence of productivity in a remote environment.
- Shifting KPIs to prioritize original work prompts front line managers to work with team members in identifying individual passion and expertise that can address difficult challenges by unleashing creativity and drive for innovation to thrive.
- Smart companies should embrace remote work and watch innovation grow- its potential for opportunities outweighs constraints.
Analysis of Larger-vs-Smaller Companies- Company Size and Influence Protect Profit Margins Against Competition through Brand Influence, Social Positioning and Technological Improvements in the New Business Normal
- Remote work forces all companies to focus on short-term business health priorities (cash flow, operations, revenue targets, etc.), as well as positioning the business for longer-term growth opportunities.
- Larger companies can build up cash reserves, meaning managers must act decisively to manage costs and increase productivity in a remote environment.
- Redefining brand identity is the best way for a startup, small or established business to compete in the new business-as-usual economy.
- Consumers are spending less in today’s reality, making it critical for smaller companies working remotely to narrow their focus to several use cases and segments with the best demand.
- Both large and small companies need to adjust the marketing mix to the current consumer profile, refocus brand content, prioritize the most relevant product categories and, promote agile marketing strategies.
- A larger company with market power can manipulate the prices of its products and services in the markets it serves, no matter the location of its employees.
- The concept of the social enterprise forces organizations to pursue revenue growth and profit-making while supporting the needs of all stakeholders (investors, consumers and employees).
- Whether a large or small company, the potential for digital platforms and AI to underpin and grow the world of work is unbounded, playing an essential role developing remote work, matching skills to employer, capital to investor and consumer to supplier.
We begin our research by locating sources relevant to the concept of a dispersed workforce and how companies are affected by the shift to a remote workforce. The data was gathered through primary sources such as McKinsey, PwC, DeLoitte, Biz Journal and Library, Practical eCommerce, CMSWire, Virtual Vocations and business news articles and blogs. As there is much information to be found for each point, data is compiled in bullets and is meant to provide a synopsis of the problems faced and opportunities to reach potential clients and sustain profitability, within a remote environment.