Perspectives on Transitioning to the “Next Normal”

BITCI News - Aug 25, 2020

Business in the Community IrelandThe journey to the ‘future of work’ has no end point as we are in a constant state of change.  However, there are points of inflection where the change either alters course or is greatly accelerated.  The BITCI Worker of the Future Sub-Group was established in response to the need to develop a view on the responsible business approach to the challenges presented by future of work scenarios.

These challenges were accentuated when the Covid pandemic struck and change has been accelerated beyond our expectations.  If the pace was already fast pre-pandemic, the speed of change now could lead to risks of rushed decision-making and groupthink.  The sub-group sees the need to reflect on the change that has occurred and on what we need to retain and develop as we transition to the “Next Normal”.

As with many other countries, digital channels became, for a while, the primary source of engagement in the retail and education sectors in Ireland.  In every sector, workers were called upon to be agile – to move from one part of the business to another, to take on extra responsibilities and to envisage how their roles could be fulfilled in a much-altered environment.

For many office workers the most disruptive development in recent months has been the scaling of remote working at a pace never envisaged in most future of work scenarios.  For some companies, remote working was already core to their way of working and announcements have been made indicating no return to offices in the coming year, perhaps longer.  For many more, the remote working they have experienced has meant scaling an ad hoc approach, which has effectively meant home working, regardless of circumstances.

The changes that have been accelerated will have lasting impacts and will potentially trigger the next wave of innovation around workplace design and practices.  Many decisions are currently being made in Ireland as offices re-open and our sub-group believes that while there are risks, there is also great opportunity if we put  the worker experience at the heart of decision-making. It is worth reflecting on where we want to be in the coming months – what challenges have we faced and what guiding principles will underpin our wanted state?  What examples of best practice are emerging?

The Worker of the Future Sub-Group will launch a publication and present a webinar addressing people perspectives on the transition to the “Next Normal” on September 18th.  The publication will focus on Culture, Skills, Inclusion and Physical and Mental Wellbeing.  The group will give a shared perspective on these four areas and provide examples of emerging best practice from a variety of sectors.

We hope this will raise some good questions and provide insights that will assist you as you navigate current challenges.

Melíosa O’Caoimh

Country Head, Northern Trust Ireland and Chair of the BITCI Leader Sub-Group on The Worker of the Future.