This series started by introducing the concept of Professional Services 2.0. We then explored how digital is transforming traditional business models and how it is improving customer experiences to accelerate growth for professional services businesses. In this last article of our series, we will be getting a glimpse of how the future of work will look like, as well as discussing how digital is enabling better ways for professional services businesses.
A new future of work is upon us. In 2020 we have experienced rapid changes in the ways we live and work and have gone through significant societal shifts. It is now clear that the way we used to work is changing for many people. Our work lives now are mostly online and involve long video calls at all hours, endless emails, difficulties in collaboration across departments and less team recreation activities. Are these current ways of working what we want for the future?
Kate Lister, the President of Global Workplace Analytics, estimates that "25-30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021." Remote working is the future or a big part of it, but we can and must use digital to enable better ways of working for both physical and digital working environments. Here is how.
Using digital technology to improve ways of working is one of the main priorities for professional services businesses in 2021. If you are thinking that you already have digital systems in place, you need to ask yourself: Does your existing technology work for your people? Does it make their work lives better? Does it increase both employee satisfaction and productivity? If the answer is "No" or “maybe” it is probably because your business bought digital tools, branded them - if possible, sometimes trying to integrate other software - and then asked employees to use them. COVID-19 made things worse by adding more online tools and touchpoints. As a result, people are now tired and confused by using multiple different tools for their day-to-day activities.
The future of work requires unified and ultra-connected hybrid digital/physical workplaces with technology that is foremost designed around people. To tap into the full potential of your people, technology decisions should not be made in a vacuum. IT and innovation departments should talk to the rest of the business and listen to what they need. Additionally, creating the right ecosystem of partners to guide you through the process of digital transformation, understanding your needs, showing you what is possible and ultimately deploying the right digital technology for your people, is fundamental for the transformation of your organisation to succeed.
Design-led thinking and workplace analytics are key to creating better ways of working. Professional services businesses should deploy digital platforms that are designed to provide personalisation to accommodate each employee's needs, automation, analytics, low/no-code interfaces, easy knowledge management and consumer-grade user interfaces. The goals are to significantly reduce organisation silos, improve internal communication and collaboration, and bridge the gap between employees and customer.
Professional services businesses around the world are currently hiring, on-boarding and training their staff digitally and most of them will continue to do so. In many cases, however, the shift from physical to digital was too rapid to do it properly. Businesses now have the chance to plan and put in place more intelligent and automated on-boarding and training processes.
Young professionals expect to get on-the-job learning and training, with opportunities for real-time mentoring and coaching, easily and straightforwardly. However, most businesses don't have any digital mechanisms in place or use different tools for on-boarding, training and managing knowledge. This makes it difficult for their new hires and existing staff to find what they need quickly and easily.
In either digital or physical environments, businesses need to help their new hires hit the ground running by providing them with:
How can you make this on-boarding and training process easy, and create a seamless experience for your people? You do this by putting everything in one place, a digital platform that can be customised to include everything your team needs. For remote workers, in particular, using a single platform to store all the core information and training courses with custom learning objectives and compliance and progress monitoring is an extremely effective and efficient way to onboard and motivate them.
Using a digital platform to onboard and train staff enables professional services businesses of all sizes and geographies to increase talent engagement, satisfaction and retention and significantly improve productivity.
Professional services businesses need to take a more comprehensive view of the employee experience, taking into account physical, digital and cultural interactions. People's expectations about work have been steadily transforming, and the global pandemic has accelerated this shift. Work is going to become more dynamic, agile and unconnected to physical locations. People now seek more meaningful connections with their work and are becoming less attached to the business they work for and more connected to their team, careers and communities.
To design the experiences that empowers your people and business, you first need to understand your employees' expectations, needs and challenges. Workplace analytics can give you a holistic view of the way your people work and the challenges they face, but you also need to talk to them and listen to what they have to say. This will enable you to design employee experiences that make their work lives better and empower them to grow and develop within your business, focusing on their satisfaction and wellbeing.
Especially after COVID-19, there is a much greater focus on employee health and wellbeing. Remote working has brought various challenges to people, including increasing stress levels, overworking, loneliness and lack of human interaction, communication issues and so on. Employers are now called to resolve these challenges and do more to protect their people.
Digital has brought opportunities to transform the way businesses track their employees physical, mental, and psychological health. Using digital platforms, employers can create bespoke environments that provide communication hubs for their people to talk, engage in recreation activities, share their challenges and get help from their peers and managers. You are able to create a positive, social atmosphere with the sense of community that has nothing to do with work and focuses solely on employee happiness and wellbeing.
A digital platform can be designed to monitor employee mental health by allowing them to record their mood and feelings to identify patterns of emotions and stressors and take proactive steps. Businesses are now able to use digital to make sure their people stay healthy even if they work remotely by encouraging them to sleep well, eat healthy and increase their physical activity. Professional services businesses that fail to do that are more likely to lose significant people from their organisation, deal with more mental health sick days and lower productivity rates.
Digital transformation is not about technology, it is about people and putting them at the heart of everything you do. Businesses that belong to Professional Services 2.0 use digital to meet both their customers and employees' needs and expectations, providing next-generation experiences, better ways of working and market-leading digital propositions. Professional services businesses now have the opportunity to take everything that has happened in 2020, apply digital technology, adapt to societal trends and create the next normal - as they imagine it.
Professional Services 2.0 have no silos, no barriers, no limits.
At Calls9, we help start-ups and established professional services businesses digitally transform to reduce inefficiencies and accelerate growth. We design and build digital platforms that improve the customer experience and empower your teams to do their best work.
We have designed a process that helps you quickly see how your organisation can use digital to transform by understanding:
At the end of the process, you will have a clear digital transformation strategy built around your specific needs and designed to help you improve your business, disrupt your market or enter a new one.
We then use this strategy to kick-start a programme of digital transformation.
Paul Smith is the former Global Chairman of Eversheds Sutherland, a successful author and legal innovator. With 30 years of experience in the professional services sector, he provides thought leadership, unique guidance and inspires innovation
Chara Kalemaki covers the latest industry insights, technology trends and digital strategy. Her passion for helping businesses understand the opportunities digital transformation brings to the professional services sector flows through the expert insights she provides.