Over the course of the last few years, I’ve been amazed and inspired by how businesses have responded to challenges and took up new ways of working. It hasn’t always been seamless. But what I have gathered is that flexibility is key.
This is because our world is no longer about “or” thinking: Working in an office space or at home; seeing customers face-to-face or through video calls. Our path forward is all about the next stage of “and,” which means creating more options for business to be conducted from the office and from home and from the factory floor and from the road.
To meet the “and” moment, leaders must prioritize identifying and deploying the right technology for their workforce, and evolving their expectations for employees. From large enterprises to small businesses, here are some “dos and don’ts” to keep in mind as you adapt your leadership approach and technology strategy for the next era.
Do enable your employees to work how they want
Employees expect to be able to work where and when they want. In fact, Gartner found 69% of workers were more likely to consider a new role that allows them to work from a location of their choice, and 64% were more likely to consider a role that allows for flexible hours. The numbers are even higher for knowledge workers, like architects, lawyers and engineers—88% seeking a new position want complete flexibility in their hours and their location, according to a recent Harvard Business Review study.
This is not just about working from home. As work norms continue to shift, employees will need to be able to seamlessly transition from home to the office to the field—and they’ll need reliable, streamlined technology that allows them to keep working from location to location without a glitch.
Don’t expect workers to be at your beck and call
Over the past two years of remote and hybrid work, employees adopted new habits to help them remain productive wherever they were working. In fact, many increased their productivity during the pandemic, working an average 48.5 minutes more per day. But this extra time has come at a cost. Without the structure of a commute and a separation of home and office, the lines between personal and professional lives became blurrier than ever, causing burnout.
This trend will easily continue if employees aren’t given space and time to recharge—and it’s up to you to lead by example and help employees maintain balance. One strategy I’ve seen to be effective is putting 30 minutes on the calendar in the morning and evening that cannot be moved or scheduled over. Whether working from home, the office or on the road, this “commute time” helps create clear boundaries that establish a start and end to the work day.
Do recognize that company-provided technology is now necessary
Investing in streamlined technology solutions for each employee, including remote workers, can have a real impact on your business—not to mention recruitment and retention. For example, remote workers want more streamlined technology solutions. That includes providing a single device for both personal and professional use. In 2020, 31% felt overwhelmed by the number of devices they had to manage between work and home, according to a report from Deloitte
And earlier this summer, Walmart announced plans to give 740,000 store associates a dedicated company-issued smartphone to use on the job as well as take home for personal use. This empowers employees, while also creating a better customer experience, and is a great example of how technology and innovation can make a company a great place to work. The lesson for leaders is clear. People want to work for companies that invest in working smarter, not harder.
Don’t assume everyone will be in the same room
By now, most teams are adjusting to dispersed work forces with team members functioning from different locations. This was once an obstacle—but today, it’s an opportunity. For office-based organizations, you can hire from a broader, more diverse talent pool that isn’t geography dependent, and seamlessly collaborate thanks to flexible technology. I’ve seen our teams host brainstorming sessions with virtual whiteboards, gathering great ideas from all over the globe.
For companies with frontline workers, technology creates opportunities to collaborate and solve collective problems, even if they are based in different locations.
Do prioritize top-tier security
As remote work and our reliance on digital connection increases, so does the chance of cyberattacks. In fact, the World Economic Forum cited cyber security among the world’s greatest threats. With hacks and ransomware on the rise, no wonder nearly 80% of IT security leaders believe their organizations lack sufficient protection against cyber threats. For today’s business leaders, security, privacy and trust are table stakes. A leader who doesn’t take these details seriously puts their entire organization at risk.
Don’t forget about emerging tech
Businesses are investing heavily in technology and digital transformation to keep up with the demands of today. But many leaders are still cautious about investing in emerging technologies like AI, mobile edge computing and 5G. Don’t let the unproven part of emerging technology be a barrier. Lean on a security platform that allows you to securely test new technology. To get the most out of those investments, you have to focus on technologies built not just for how we work today—but for how we will work tomorrow.
It’s been an unpredictable time for employees and leaders alike. They both deserve a lot of credit for their agility during these rapidly evolving times. But to remain competitive, companies large and small must invest in new technology to improve collaboration and productivity—and make employees’ lives easier. After all, the journey towards greater flexibility and mobility is still ongoing.
John Curtis is the vice president and general manager of Samsung Electronic America’s mobile business to business division.