Changes to how we work
2020 has ushered in a dramatic change to the way we conduct business on a global scale. Probably the most significant and obvious change that has directly impacted the global workforce is the increase in remote working scenarios. In addition to the restructuring of human capital, companies have been engaging more contingent talent. The uptick in the use of contractors and independent contractors has been two-fold; to adapt to the travel and mobility restrictions and secondly to enable greater workforce flexibility. The latter has been particularly important, providing the ability to respond to changing business needs and demand. Using more contingent labor, has meant companies can bring on new workers as needed and increase or decrease their workforce as required.
Home offices have become the new normal in 2020. Online video meetings and groups calls have replaced the previous in-person meetings. This has impacted all areas of business. Even salespeople have had to adapt the way they reach out to prospective or existing clients.
Technology’s Role in the Workforce
Technology has become even more of a crutch to lean on and to enable this transition. AI and the fourth industrial revolution has arrived and in 2020 we are seeing its progress race forward rapidly.
But what is the impact on technology and AI on the workforce?
We know that adults and children alike are spending much more time in front of their computers now and technology has brought the world to our fingertips and mouse clicks.
The Human Connection
The challenge for businesses is how to maintain the human connection with so much computerization. It’s even more of a challenge when engaging contingent talent. One might even consider if regulations will be necessary going forward in order to keep the organic nature of the workforce intact.
When people are able to talk face to face, there is much less potential for misunderstanding and negative feelings. It is also easier to ask questions face to face, which can add context or increase understanding so everyone is on the same page.
Talking face to face, in real-time, as opposed to over a time-delayed email or chat means less back and forth, which can increase productivity at the individual and team levels.
This can also increase creativity because a spontaneous conversation can spark a new idea. You never know what someone else might say that will get you thinking. It is less likely though not impossible that communication through email will help give someone a great new idea.
Communicating face to face also builds trust and connection between management and the workforce, as well as between colleagues. This can foster goodwill and build that sense of teamwork that can transform an organization from surviving to thriving. There simply is no substitute for connecting on a human level.
It is not realistic that all interactions be face-to-face, but it should not be the norm that all interactions are digital, either. There are situations in which a quick check-in via email or group chat is the best approach just as there are circumstances when everyone should come together and connect face to face.
The composition of today’s changing workforce will only continue to evolve. Successful organizations will likely be those that continuously improve the way they team with workers of all kinds.
In an article by SAP, Chief Financial Officer Luka Mucic says, “The goal should be for man and machine to complement each other in the workplace, with machines supporting human work.”
Finding the balance
The challenge is on us all to maintain that healthy balance between technology and humanism. Today’s leaders of the future will have a unique set of paradigms to navigate. It will require an awareness and wholistic approach from all areas of the business, from human resources to procurement to operations.
While in-person meetings may continue to be restricted, there are some things organizations can do to keep the human connection with their contingent workforce.
- Create meaningful relationships. Contingent workers can move around. This creates more context and may help with talent loyalty to your business when building your talent pools.
- Have regular check-in’s on a personal level. The personal touch can go a long way to making someone feel valued for who they are and not just for the work they do.
- Provide regular feedback – everyone likes to be appreciated.
- Ask for feedback – workers feel like their opinion matters.
- Video meetings – while it’s not the same as in-person, it’s a step up from an email and allows more connection, especially between teams.
- Social gatherings online – it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but some may like to get together for a ‘happy hour’ or ‘yappy hour’ and bring their pets.
At CXC, we’ve been working with global contingent talent and providing remote workforce management solutions since 1992. We follow our own advice with our own remote workforce teams. We also assist companies in over 60 countries to implement contingent workforce strategies and engage their contingent talent compliantly.
Contact us directly for a video meeting to find out more about our global solutions.