6 min read

The five work trends for 2022

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Sundaram Circle Event Summary

Lunch on 18th Nov at Kisume, Melbourne brought together senior leaders from various industries.

Brad Howarth, the keynote speaker, an authority on managing change & uncertainty, firmly believes that if a change is not optional, neither is foresight. Now more than ever, leaders need to understand the critical importance of business model innovation to drive the resilient mindset to survive in the next normal. A re-look at the efficiencies of the current processes and activities and the impact of technology- driven change is an excellent start to future proof the organisation. The pandemic has led to a rapid acceleration of future-ready business models. It is clear that those who have fallen behind more resilient players will need to make up for lost ground in a post-pandemic world. While it is impossible to make firm predictions about the long term development of either the global economy or social behaviour, understanding the possible scenarios allows us to plan and prepare for most eventualities. Brad offered five suggestions of trends that will grow in importance in 2022, with the key being the ability to sense market changes and adapt quickly.

What are the "Five Trends" or "Five Predictions for 2022"

1. The future of work is hybrid – and we are not good at it

We are entering uncharted territory when it comes to defining the workplace, with many workers continuing working remotely for at least part of the working week, potentially indefinitely. Many employers are failing to find a balance that maximises the advantage of either scenario. As managers, we need to quickly adapt to a hybrid working world, which means thinking deeply about work processes, supporting technology, and our own ability to manage the health, happiness, and productivity of our workforce. The goal should be to provide a balanced experience that offers no disadvantage to either on-premises or remote workers. That means rethinking the workplace as a destination for collaboration and tuning the tools and processes that support engagement.

2. Transformation is a capability – not a project

Organisations that will thrive into the future are those that accept that markets are dynamic and build a capability to constantly adjust to the realities of life. Agile methodologies that use testing and learning are critical, as is the need to feed learning back into the strategy process. Organisations that build a strong sensing capability based on real-time data will find themselves best placed to respond to changing conditions, as will those that build strong communications links that create a culture that is excited by what ongoing change can deliver.

3. Crisis is the new normal

COVID is not the only crisis that organisations will face this decade. Resilience will come through adaptability in systems and processes and the capability to respond quickly to changes. Again, sensing capabilities based on real-time data will be critical. So too is the need to develop skills in managing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and that can be achieved through helping to develop the soft skills of workers. On the technology front, this will lead to increased interest in Web 3.0 concepts of flexible and component-based architectures that can scale as needed.

4. Put the customers in your org chart

Experience will continue to trump product as the point of differentiation, especially in service-based industries such as banking and insurance, but increasingly in consumer goods, and even B2B marketplaces. Service models will split between full-service and self- service, but with the ability to flip from one to the other as customers demand. Organisations will need to engage more deeply with customers in the ideation process, adopting user-centred design processes. They should stop trying to convince people to buy things they don’t want in favour of flexing their business models to offer things they are buying, even if that means moving away from established practices. Omnichannel strategies will fall out in favour of personalised engagement strategies.

5. Your purpose is critical

Those organisations that succeed in 2022 and beyond will be those that exhibit strong purpose. This is essential for those brands that want stronger connections to customers, as customers will expect to know their brands better in return and want to engage with brands they like and trust. The purpose will also prove essential for attracting and retaining top talent. Most often, the purpose will tie into sustainability initiatives. Still, regardless of what that purpose is, it must be reflected in actions rather than just words, which shows in the rapid growth of the B Corp movement.

Harish from Sundaram Business Services presented SBS' capabilities as a Business Transformation Partner and their undertaking a Business Process Assessment (BPA) to optimise business processes - what can be automated and outsourced using alternative models. Business leaders can make an informed choice – the choice to make their operations future-ready and embark on improving the company's competitive edge and strategic resilience to keep pace with dramatic shifts in the business models.

The guest agreed that the future of work was uncertain given that there would be many "working from home". Offices are unsure how to get the employees back to offices as there is an underlying fear of further virus outbreaks.

Evidently, WFH changes the primary contract between employee and employer – giving more advantage to employees who have shown they can deliver.

There was considerable discussion around the need for leaders, in general, to have time out to ponder, to sit and take in the view and think about things. Mostly, the nature of work prevents this from happening, and they do not have a broad enough perspective.

In the context of all the changes, the group was almost unanimous that defining “purpose” was critical and that the unifier can be our purpose in uncertain times.

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