Leading organisations towards business resilience

Steering your organisation ahead in times of uncertainty: What leaders can do to drive business resilience and continuity

Steering your organisation ahead in times of uncertainty: What leaders can do to drive business resilience and continuity

In 2020, goals like business growth and company expansion have been overtaken by one all-important value — business resilience. Leaders who have their sights firmly set on the future are realising the importance of being resilient above all else — be it by spotting change patterns early on, adapting fast, or evolving continuously to stay ahead of market forces.

In the past, leadership has already been shown to have a major impact on workplace productivity. One survey revealed that when it came to productivity, the quality of leadership far outweighed all other influencing factors.1 Leadership thus, drives workplace strategy to a large extent.

So as a business leader, what kind of workplace strategies should you now look to build, with resilience being the new order of the day? What can you do today to ensure financial success and business viability tomorrow? Here are some factors to keep in mind.

Leverage the influence of Millennial & Gen Z workers

Over the last decade, much of the corporate conversation around Millennials and Gen Z employees was about how to manage these younger generations. But successful leaders are looking to the future — to a time when these generations will make up the majority of the workforce, thereby influencing company culture. And this is especially significant because that time is not too far off.

Examining the work and lifestyle preferences of young Millennials and Gen Z employees can provide important cues regarding the future of the workplace — and some of these cues go against assumptions. For instance, one poll revealed that 72% of Gen Z employees actually favour face-to-face communication at work.2 This may come as a surprise if you expected the tech-native generation to lean heavily on digital communication tools — but understanding this preference helps you steer workplace strategy in the right direction. This, combined with the Millennials’ and Gen Z-ers’ natural inclination to form personal connections at work, indicate that the future of the workplace cannot be completely distanced as suggested by pandemic trends.

Keeping these in mind, if you are looking to build business resilience, you may want to opt for a flexible work culture (another major preference of the younger generations) combined strategically with a physical workplace that allows people to bond and form meaningful connections. Of course, these workplaces will have to be designed keeping the new health and safety protocols in mind. The densified workplaces, the close cluster seating and the central conference room table will all need to be re-imagined, making way for safer, more consciously designed interaction spaces.

Embrace flexibility

In the context of the pandemic, flexibility has come to be synonymous with working from home. But the two terms are certainly not interchangeable — in fact, simply allowing people to work from home may actually be less flexible if it means employees are expected to give up their work-life boundaries.

For the approach to be successful, the senior leadership needs to integrate flexibility and agility into the company culture. Nuances need to be kept in mind — what’s flexible for one employee may be restrictive or distracting for another. A young Millennial living alone may enjoy working from home, but someone who lives in a small space along with kids, extended family members and pets may not feel the same way.

Such nuances then, will prove instrumental in driving your leadership strategy. Choice-based policies are likely to be preferred, as they would cater to everybody’s unique circumstances, thereby making the workplace more inclusive. This indicates the emergence of an extremely agile space that can align to meet needs that may change from day to day. Contrary to popular belief, offices will not simply be collaboration hubs — some employees might actually prefer coming to the office for focussed work too. Workplaces thus, will need to take into account varying functions as well as fluctuating headcounts. Choice environments will need to be dynamic while ensuring that safety protocols are followed. Moreover, they will need to be integrated with the right kind of communication technology to support flexible schedules.

Invest in the right technology

Cisco Systems, Singapore

Resilient leaders have always recognised the importance of designing a proactive tech strategy that keeps future growth in mind. That remains true today as well, with an extra layer of intricacy added in — you now need to consider remote technology more than ever before.

The specific technology offerings that your company chooses, will of course, need to be informed by the employees’ needs and your operational strategy for the future. For instance, if your firm plans to operate out of multiple smaller offices dispersed across several locations, your tech strategy will need to focus on collaboration and interconnectivity. On the other hand, if most people in your organisation choose to continue working remotely, you can look at establishing one central hub where people can drop in to absorb the company culture. Here, you may want to look at equipping individual workers with the right kind of a home office tech set-up — and put a sharper focus on security, given that there will be more endpoints for potential data breaches.

Adaptive workplace technology is one offering that your organisation may find indispensable in the coming years. It is a fact that workplaces will have to negotiate fluctuating occupancy. So, smart technology that senses the number of people in a space and adjusts the lights, air conditioners or automated cleaning protocols can help cut down on overheads and prevent unnecessary wastage that affects your bottom line.

Focus on health and wellness

CapitaLand Ascendas Plaza Bridge+, Shanghai

This is another area that is already being drastically redefined as future-facing leaders acknowledge the importance of holistic wellbeing strategies. They recognise the fact that material offerings like a swanky gym or a state-of-the-art café do not really do much for mental health or morale if they are also not supplemented by a healthy work culture. Rather than superficial solutions, employees would rather want to get the sense that the company genuinely cares about their health and well-being.

This can of course, be done through basic health and safety protocols like temperature checks and hygiene practices. But you can also ensure this in other, more important ways. Think comprehensive health plans for employees’ families, and a great work-life balance where your senior leadership sets healthy boundaries and leads by example. Think an overall change in culture where mental health issues are destigmatised, employees are given easy access to counsellors, and people feel comfortable taking time off due to mental health needs.

Think also, entire workplace design strategies crafted around health, wellness and sustainability — where rather than just Green standards, your firm opts for wellness certifications too. In the physical workplace, this would mean daylight availability, touchless technology, better indoor air quality and lots of green, biophilic spaces to work from. In the virtual workplace, this can take the form of better technology for employee engagement, and virtual measures to reduce social isolation.

At the end of the day, strong leadership and good workplace strategy work hand in hand — and neither can be fully effective without the other. So understanding and implementing the transformative aspects of the future of work is imperative in helping you achieve business resilience. Get in touch with us to discuss how the workplace can help you survive and thrive in these times of uncertainty.