The future of work – Accelerating Change!

Change is inevitable. Business speed is accelerating relentlessly. Think about it: Uber and AirBnb didn’t really exist 10 years ago. Today, they’re giants that have caused massive upheaval in major, entrenched industries.

Will you be affected? Of course! If you want to achieve and sustain market leadership, you must prepare for a world in which change that used to happen in 1 year happens in 1 quarter.

How are we doing today?

Workfront’s annual State of Work Report (2019, U.S. Edition) shows that most organizations are not close to ready for an accelerating business climate where rapid innovation is the foundation of long-term market leadership. Employees don’t trust their co-workers, they struggle to find time for innovation, are crippled by email and wasteful administrative tasks and are ambivalent about automation.

We don’t trust our colleagues

Bill Belichick’s mantra is “Do your job and trust your teammates”. The results speak for themselves – 6 Super Bowl titles, 9 appearances and an unmatched two decade run of success for the New England Patriots.

How do the rest of us feel about our teammates (co-workers)? The study asked workers to rate their colleagues similar to an Uber driver. The average coworker got a rating of just 3.7 stars and workers rated themselves far higher than co-workers, managers and leadership – a source of mistrust in the organization.

Organizational teamwork is hard. For decades, we’ve been organized by functional silos. Crossing those silos, engaging with colleagues and collaborating across departments is hard. Corporate and HR leadership has to play a key role in making it happen.

We waste time on unproductive tasks

On average, workers say that they spend only 40% of their time each week performing their primary job function. Big productivity killers are email and administrative tasks.

Younger employees are more likely to think that a lack of standardized workflow processes gets in the way of work – 42% vs 24% for baby boomers. Perhaps, that’s because older workers already know how the process is supposed to work.

Read More: How to focus your team on productive tasks.

Standardizing and automating day-to-day operations results in big productivity gains – it means fewer emails and administrative tasks, and less wasted time figuring out the process and chasing down your manager.

We don’t have time for innovation

64% of respondents state that company leaders routinely ask employees to think about how to change the way they work. Yet, more than half are so swamped with day-to-day work that they have no time to think beyond their to-do list (58%) but feel that their team would be much more successful if they had just 4 hours per week to focus on innovation (54%).

What’s the single biggest thing that would help? Instituting better processes. When you consider that 24 hours are spent on unproductive tasks each week, getting back just 4 hours feels easy.

Get rid of just a few wasteful meetings, reduce some administrative tasks and unnecessary emails and let employees focus on innovation.

We’re ambivalent about automation

On average, we think that 37% of our day-to-day work is automated but only 40% should be suggesting that we’ve already reached the age of automation. Yet, 69% of U.S. workers say that automation will give them more time to perform their primary job duties.

Read More: Want digital transformation? Start with your workflows.

It suggests that workers don’t fully understand or appreciate the benefits of automation and are probably fearful. A majority of workers expect to compete with robots and AI for their jobs. CIOs and HR leadership have an opportunity to educate and evangelize automation as a tool that helps workers do their jobs better and focus on strategic aspects by getting rid of mundane, repetitive tasks.

We want more digital transformation

A significant majority (58%) of workers say that their organization is going through a digital transformation. Significant numbers (44%) want more but are encountering executive resistance.

Read More: A modern framework for delivering digital transformation.

A majority of U.S. Workers say their company is going through a digital transformation yet they want more digital tools

It’s particularly telling that nearly half of survey respondents are unaware that work has been assigned to them on a monthly basis. It suggests that work management tools such as intelligent business process automation are clearly lacking in the workplace.

Final Takeaways

Change is hard. The good news above is that your employees understand that changes are inevitable and necessary and they’re positive about their work future. The key takeaways are straightforward – improve productivity by increasing time spent on primary job functions, consciously carve out time for innovation, help employees collaborate and trust each other, embrace automation and digital tools to manage modern work.

For the final word, here’s Steven ZoBell, Chief Product Officer at Workfront.

We must rethink how our teams work together across the enterprise and apply a modern approach to work with new systems and models. Only then can we fully exploit our massive investment in digital transformation. Then we can finally enable our teams to focus on what we actually hired them to do: dream, create, and innovate.

Download the white paper below to learn more.

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Graphics source: Workfront’s annual State of Work Report (2019, U.S. Edition)

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