Report – The Future of Work by Capgemini & Early Metrics
By Anais Masetti - 04 June 2020
The future of work is an important theme that concerns all businesses and represents a vast field of opportunities for innovation. Capgemini and Early Metrics collaborated to explore the key trends and players driving the evolution of our workforces, workplaces and work itself.
Over a series of webinars held in April and May 2020, with the participation and support of Microsoft and the UK Department of International Trade, they gathered experiences and knowledge from various ecosystem players on what the future of work should or will look like. This report will present some of the highlights from these panel discussions as well as further insights into key innovations brought by the startup ecosystem in this space, as analysed by Early Metrics.
The Future of Work is Here
As Christian Tooley, Senior Management Consultant at Capgemini Invent, pointed out, we are currently experiencing the largest ever experiment on new and remote ways of working. Indeed, while “the future of work” was already a buzz-worthy topic before this, the coronavirus pandemic has now thrusted to the top of the priority list for all companies to address how their workforce and workplace should utilise technology to become future-proof. Indeed, when in early 2020 Capgemini and Early Metrics first planned this series of events around the Future of Work (originally meant to happen in a physical space), little did they know how relevant and concrete the topic would become.
The lockdown has made the contrast particularly salient between the companies that were already well set up for remote and digital work, and the others that had taken little to no steps at all to future-proof their ways of working. Among the “good students” so to speak, unsurprisingly companies in the technology sector came on top, be it large companies, startups or consulting firms such as Capgemini. For instance, Tim Myers, Senior Partner CTO at Microsoft One Commercial Partner, explained that most of his team was already working mostly remotely before the confinement period. Moreover, he shared that Microsoft lives by the motto “eat your own dog food” – meaning its employees use the same productivity, professional communication and other tools created and sold by the company.
It is natural that some areas of activity such as the industrial and public sectors are less suited for prolonged remote and decentralized work. However, we are seeing a willingness from HMRC, for instance, to promote work from home (WFH) and other novel practices with a dedicated Smarter Ways of Working programme. Shalini Khemka, Dealmaker for the Department of International Trade and CEO at E2E, shared as well that UK Export Finance has overall seen a rise in productivity since the lockdown period started. “I hope this is the beginning of something new and that we can be less dependent on physical offices,” she stated.
The key problems are people problems
Throughout our panel discussions, one conclusion was brought up time and time again: when it comes to building resilient and forward-thinking workplaces and workforces, the key problems are people problems, not technological ones. To some extent, most companies already have access to the digital tools and resources needed by their staff. Yet, combating isolation and loneliness in remote workforces, maintaining employee motivation and team cohesion, filling the generational gap in digital skills throughout the workforce, or even ensuring all employees have access to decent internet speed are all tricky issues that companies currently struggle to address.
The panellists highlighted that taking time for virtual social time between employees (such as scheduled coffee breaks via video-conferencing) is a necessity for all companies. Such moments usually happen spontaneously in a traditional office setting so it is important for remote or decentralized teams to plan for these in their calendars. Shalini Khemka suggested that managers may want to abstain from participating in all virtual team building activities to make their employees feel more free to share their struggles and tips with each other. To prevent loneliness and stay motivated, Adele Every, VP HMRC MU and Head of Relationship Management at Capgemini, also suggested reaching out to mentors online on a regular basis.
On top of this, Adele Every pointed out that while WFH might have been proven as a viable solution for many, there are also many parents who have struggled with juggling their responsibilities as carers and professionals in the same space. Employee mental health is indeed a key component of employee wellbeing, retention and productivity. James Haycock, General Manager at Idean, said there is an opportunity there for companies to think more sensitively about how they design work and bring in more flexibility into their work culture and structure. Moreover, as a remote working veteran, Tim Myers advised to avoid back to back meetings and schedule regular breaks (e.g. plan 50-minute meetings instead of 1 hour to leave yourself at least 10 minutes of breathing space in between tasks). He stressed that employees should “take the time and keep yourself healthy”.
As the Future of Work entails a vast field of topics and challenges, we invited three sets of experts to delve deeper into the following sub-streams: the future of the workforce, the future of the workplace and finally the future of the nature of work.