Flexible working is here to stay, and with massive workforce transformation happening across the globe, we need to evolve how we manage teams and adopt the relevant technology and tools to be effective without being in the office.
I have gathered insights from senior HR and Change Management professionals in Singapore on how to create an engaged workforce and some top recommendations on the attributes, skills, and tools that can help organisations remain successful.
Given the world's recent move to hybrid working, how do you foresee the future?
I think moving forward we will see more and more people wanting to continue with this style of working, as it seems to be showing positive impacts on mental health as well as work output. HR and People Specialist, Tech Vendor
My current organization would like to keep the hybrid approach because it promotes a healthy work life balance, which benefits both the company and the employees. Many people who work in Bangkok live far away from City Centre, and hybrid means they do not have to leave their homes when traffic is at its worst in the morning, sit in traffic for a couple of hours and get stressed about making it to work on time. However, there are clock-in and clock-out standards for teams like customer service, reception, and cleaning. Change and Strategy Manager, Global Insurer
There is a move towards flexibility to work from home or come to the office. However, even though the relationship between workers and the office is changing, career growth, collaboration, and connectedness cannot be done remotely. The preference at my current organisation is still to have employees, who not just come to the office but want to come to the office. Transformation and Change Lead, Global Insurer
In my opinion, my organisation is progressive on this front. We have been piloting a 4-day week since last year and started offering employees alternative workplaces through the Switch app. Strategic Change Manager, Global Insurer
What are the most pressing challenges organizations must address to build an engaged workforce?
Engaging employees is my toughest challenge at the moment. Everyone is settled with working from home since it’s been proven effective and a less distractive way to work. However, that also leads to them being slightly, and a lot in some cases, disconnected from the workspace. With that said, ensuring employee engagement is tough. I believe it is time to change how we define “engaged” employees. It is no longer about how often they are participating in work activities or socials, but about how responsive they are on Slack. HR and People Specialist, Tech Vendor
One of my challenges is employee disparities between hybrid and non-hybrid, as working remotely is not a possibility for everyone. Frontline employees can feel like they are working harder while their desk-based co-workers relax at home. Employees who spend most or all their time working remotely may feel deprived of conversations and decisions because they are not in the same room as others. Another challenge is inefficient communication which slows down processes, and work gets done at a slower pace, and sometimes employees may feel confused or miss important information. We need to be focused on creating the right hybrid work environment, as hybrid means that fewer employees will be in the office every day. This can also cause a dedicated workspace to be seen as a waste of resources. Change and Strategy Manager, Global Insurer
Organisations need authentic leadership; I have seen many leaders who promote a company culture because they feel they need to, but don’t believe in it or practice it. Employees are savvy, and they catch on quickly. Another one is servant leadership, we need to develop a culture where we do not ask what the people can do for the company but what leaders can do to make their work easier to bring growth to the organisation. Strategic Change Manager, Global Insurer
Considering workplace transformation and digitisation, what people or technology capabilities do you find most important moving forward?
Collaboration tools, time and task management tools. Working remotely will need better methods to collaborate. Another important one would be employee engagement tools. HR and People Specialist, Tech Vendor
From a people perspective, an IT network engineer, a data scientist, and a mobile developer are key. From a technology perspective, cloud base services, VOIP call and chat tools, big data, machine learning, mobile technology and AI and Robotics. Change and Strategy Manager, Global Insurer
Employees need to be provided with the right tools to support their work in a digital environment, cyber security and remote access tools are the most important. When thinking about people, achievers and thinkers are the most important to build the future of the organisation. Transformation and Change Lead, Global Insurer
IT savviness and the ability to easily and quickly pick up the applications that your organisation is using enterprise-wide. Soft skills are also important, such as the ability to articulate your thoughts and messages succinctly especially with virtual meetings when you may not have the attention of your audience as compared to face to face. With most organisations moving to Cloud, it will allow the flexibility of ramping up services, storage etc. quickly. Unfortunately, it is surprising some organisations are not prioritising budget upgrading legacy systems which gives them technical debt. Data governance is also a huge consideration, many organisations while trying to get onto the bandwagon of data science, AI, machine learning does not have the fundamentals of data governance structure which provides the foundation that will provide good data to these applications. In this case there will be a big set of the work cleaning up bad data and data governance structure will reduce the data clean up time. Strategic Change Manager, Global Insurer
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