Strategies To Prepare For Your Future of Work

OTM's 6 steps to establish your future of work

6 Minute Read

Takeaway: OTM’s six action areas to ensure the successful design and implementation of operating models which integrate Future of Work requirements. These steps can be followed either at the macro organization-wide level, or at a sub-boundary level such as a Business Unit or even a Function. 

1. Develop a strategic intent using a broad scope of inputs and the participation of the entire management team. 

This is where it all starts – ‘Form follows function’. 

Operating models and how work gets done over the next 5-10 years will be driven by the needs and expectations of the Millennial and Gen Z generations, and enabled by information technology, automation and AI. The strategic intent of the organization must encompass Future of Work requirements that cover both the desired future social attributes (culture if you must!) and the use of technology in its broadest sense as an enabler. 

In many organizations, the management/leadership team have limited understanding of the needs of Millennials/Gen Z alongside a limited understanding of the possibilities of future technology and AI. Start any alignment of the operating model to the Future of Work by providing an opportunity for Millennials/Gen Zs to give input to the strategy, which will determine their working lives. Provide feedback to them on how you have used their input and recognize their contribution – model future behaviours. 

2. Rethink and redefine the whole Operating Model – don’t tinker around the edges.

FIT star model

Realigning the social attributes of the organization to Future of Work requirements and designing an Operating Model that is flexible enough to continuously integrate technological innovations needs the alignment of all aspects of the organization to one strategy and to the work that adds the value for customers. 

OTM’s Applied Star Model provides one framework to do this in a systematic and holistic way ensuring everything is aligned to the same objectives. Through the application of this framework, Future of Work attributes embedded in the strategy will naturally be included in resultant design criteria. These attributes will then flow through to a new Social system once the new Operating Model is implemented and the organization has been renewed. 

3. Make your design process your management and leadership development program.

A change impact analysis on any future Operating Model designed around Future of Work requirements will inevitably highlight that the stakeholders most impacted by the change are the current managers. 

bullet points

Remember that the position of the current managers is the most threatened by the Future of Work, so don’t underestimate the fact that if they don’t support the new design, then they are in an ideal position to sabotage it. Many mangers have got to where they are today by knowing the work of their staff better than they do, changing that work may threaten their perceived personal value. Managers’ decision power has been based on ‘old’ ways of working, automation of workflow and the opportunity to push AI informed decision making closer to the work can again threaten a manager’s perceived personal value. 

Involve the managers as fully as you can in the design process alongside Millennials and Gen Z employees, while mirroring the future ways of working (Learn & grow, Feedback, Recognition) – we refer to this as design compatibility. Create a pull for the future from managers, rather than a situation where you are trying to push it upon them. However, you must give them a dignified exit route (See Step 6) if they decide that your Future of Work is not for them. 

4. Create a socio-technical transformation map.

DNA strand continuum of social and technological aspects of work

Transformation doesn’t happen by chance. Transforming an Operating Model to fully integrate Future of Work requirements will require deliberately planning both the Social and the Technical milestones to ensure that the Social System is ready before the Technical change is implemented. Implementing a Technical change into a Social System that is not ready will inevitably lead to the planned new ways of working not being adopted and workarounds being developed to maintain the status quo. 

5. Don’t make IT or HR the central authority for coordination of implementation activity.

Transforming the Operating Model is an organisation-wide initiative that impacts and integrates all aspects of the enterprise, changing both the core value creating work, the enabling work (such as HR and IT) and the management work and mechanisms. For this reason, the coordinating of the pre and post-implementation activity should ideally be kept away from any impacted function and vested in either a transient or virtual body, or an unimpacted function such as ‘strategy’.

6. Early communication of your HR policy, covering how those who choose not to work in your Future of Work environment can leave with dignity. 

Always be on the front foot when it comes to how people who leave the organization will be treated. Have your HR policy in place and communicated very early in your redesign process. An Operating Model transformation, no matter how collaborative and inclusive, will inevitably result in the design of future ways of working, as well as roles and jobs which do not suit everyone. Once the design of the future operating model is completed and signed-off, compromises cannot be made to suit the desires of a small number of individuals. As a result, some people will choose/need to leave the organization.   

In OTM’s extensive experience, when an organization undertakes a full Operating Model redesign, between 20% - 40% of the leadership will leave. When this happens, everyone is watching (not only those for whom change is positive, but also your customers), and the organization should put itself in the best possible light by visibly demonstrating respect for those leaving by allowing them to leave with dignity.

Conclusion 

Integrate your Future of Work requirements into your strategic intent before you begin to redesign your Operating Model.  Cover both the Social and the Technical aspects of the Future of Work and involve all stakeholders in both the strategy setting and the design and implementation processes. Social milestones drive Technical milestone, never vice versa.

Reestablishing your current business and operating model with Future of Work requirements will help your business adapt to a changing environment. This is especially crucial after our world went through such enormous change during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the Future of Work and how to envision a strategy to establish your ways of working here. 

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Peter Turgoose is a Senior Consultant at ON THE MARK.

OTM has been in business since 1987 and is a leading organization design firm. Over our 33 years in business, OTM has completed close to 450 redesigns around the globe across most industries. Our experience and passion for collaborative business transformation is supported by pragmatism, systems thinking, and a belief in people that's unparalleled.

Tagged: workplace culture, operating model, Consultancy, Culture, organization design

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