Tomorrow’s workforce is waiting – businesses must get ready, today

In this guest article, the CEO of Apogee Corporation, Aurelio Maruggi, discusses the need for businesses to ready themselves as hybrid working models become the norm.

Aurelio Maruggi

Aurelio Maruggi

The world has changed, and the way we work has changed with it. As hybrid working models become normalised, businesses are recognising the benefits and challenges that come with blending office and remote environments.

This ‘new normal’ opens a world of possibilities. Gone are the days of the isolated, grey office cubicle; these areas are now ripe for redefinition as open and collaborative spaces, primed for flexible, cloud-enabling connectivity across the traditional home/office divide.

The workforce is also evolving. A new generation of tech-savvy employees are coming to the fore, and they demand personalised, intuitive systems and solutions on the latest devices. As competition ramps up across sectors, the onus is on employers to prepare frictionless, hybrid-ready working environments for tomorrow’s talent.

But to deliver these high standards, businesses everywhere need to step up – today.

The future is now

About 50% of workers find themselves as digital natives, with the figure set to rise to 75% by 2025. Within the next few decades, the entire workforce will have grown up under the ubiquitous influence of the Internet and other technologies. Digital natives are already shaping the future of working life. As a new generation enters the workforce, business processes will continue to modernise in view of evolving skillsets.

All businesses can leverage the digital wisdom and technical know-how of tomorrow’s workforce – if they can attract it in the first place. Accustomed to dependable and frictionless technology 24/7, digital natives learn at high speed and have very little tolerance for low-tech or disjointed digital systems. This new generation can offer employers wide-ranging knowledge and skills; in return, they demand seamless experiences within businesses that value flexibility and personal freedom.

As the workforce evolves, the line between personal life and professional life will continue to blur. The core values individuals hold in their private lives will extend into the workplace, so employees will look for business cultures that align with their personal vision. To attract tomorrow’s workforce, businesses will need to closely examine their social and corporate responsibilities, in addition to their hybrid capabilities.

Transition troubles

While the pandemic has seen accelerated digitisation in many organisations, the standard offering is still worlds away from what the workforce of tomorrow expect and need. Too many companies rely on legacy systems that do not offer employees the flexibility and simplicity they enjoy in their private lives. Businesses that fail to invest in their office spaces and technology will lose talented employees to more forward-thinking and adaptable competitors.

Research by Apogee found that more than a third (35%) of UK employees have struggled to transition from work to home to hybrid due to technological problems. While working from home during the pandemic, almost half (45%) of workers were left frustrated with laptops and hardware not functioning properly. We have seen levels of frustration grow exponentially as workplace technology standards fail to match the frictionless, intuitive systems used outside of work.

Frustration comes with a price

Transition troubles are costly – in more ways than one. During the pandemic, UK workers lost an average of 85 hours to faulty technology and a lack of IT support while working from home. The resulting loss of worktime is estimated to have cost UK businesses £115 million each week. Companies hit by downtime and technical glitches face losing significant amounts of money as precious time is wasted on troubleshooting.

Inadequate IT solutions are similarly draining on an organisation’s most precious asset – its workforce. Frustrated employees are disengaged employees. They are not inspired by workplace tasks and feel dissatisfied with the returns on their time and effort. The impact on productivity and turnover is all too clear. With a new generation becoming key players in the ’war for talent’, businesses cannot afford to frustrate their workforce with subpar equipment.

Inspiring tomorrow’s workforce

Businesses need to redefine their workplace environments today to attract and retain the workforce of tomorrow. Here lies a unique opportunity: employers can revolutionise the footprint of their offices by transforming them into collaborative, hybrid-ready spaces. These spaces should offer an engaging people experience to employees, who will be further empowered with interactive and intuitive technology.

If organisations provide technologies and systems with the same level of dependability, access, and user-friendliness as the ones staff use in their personal lives, they will reap the benefits. Frustration will give way to inspiration, leading to an engaged and productive workforce who feel able to freely express themselves. Dynamic and flexible businesses naturally attract the best talent, creating a virtuous circle that drives sustained growth.

Sustainability is another important factor to consider. As tomorrow’s workforce seek continuity between their personal life and professional life, they will gravitate towards organisations that reflect their own values. Sustainable workplace solutions are no longer ‘nice to haves’ – they are prime drivers in attracting key talent. Offices that move to more sustainable energy sources will make a positive impact, both on the planet and on potential employees.

However, being prepared for tomorrow’s workforce requires more than lip service and deliveries of shiny new laptops. Rather than implementing new technology for technology’s sake, businesses should invest in the right level of technical service and support to employees. Many forward-thinking companies are outsourcing their workplace service supplier for one reason: a single and dependable go-to organisation can provide reliable solutions for the whole spectrum of workforce needs.

Businesses need to act now to prepare for the hybrid future of working. They must develop a digital offering that meets the high expectations of tomorrow’s workforce, allowing them to switch seamlessly between home and office work environments.

To attract and retain this new generation of talent, it is imperative that companies have a flexible and agile IT estate that provides accessibility anytime, anywhere. This future won’t wait – strategic action today will help to shape tomorrow’s success stories.

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