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Laying the groundwork for growth as we return to workplaces

It has become clear that returning to the workplace encompasses so much more than bringing the workforce back to the physical desks and office spaces they once inhabited.

Laying the groundwork for growth as we return to workplaces
[Svitlana/Adobe Stock]

In our new hybrid reality, leaders across the C-suite are grappling with the complexities of returning to the workplace and how we position our organizations for growth. At this critical juncture, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly reimagine all facets of work and lay the groundwork for innovation and prosperity.

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As Deloitte began planning a return to the workplace, I was asked to lead our efforts to safely bring our people back to offices and to client workspaces. My role as chief growth officer offered a unique perspective that encompasses both the internal and marketplaces lenses—two considerations that were necessary to guiding this initiative over the past 22 months.

Throughout this time, it has become clear that returning to the workplace encompasses so much more than bringing the workforce back to the physical desks and office spaces they once inhabited. This is an opportunity to leverage the lessons and capabilities we developed during the pandemic to effect meaningful growth. To that end, several core areas of focus have emerged as vital for leaders who aim to move beyond reacting to rapidly changing situations and into thriving in our new dynamic reality. Keeping pace with the changes and expectations of tomorrow will likely require us to take action today in the form of technology investments, developing talent, and fostering trust.

PRIORITIZING THE NEED FOR CONTINUED TECHNOLOGY INVESTMENTS

Even before the pandemic, it was clear that digital transformation is a business imperative that truly drives growth by creating better experiences for employees and clients. This has only become more crucial. In fact, in a recent Deloitte survey, 85% of CEOs noted that the pandemic significantly accelerated their digital transformations.

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We have an incredible opportunity to capitalize on the innovation that’s occurred over the course of the pandemic to ultimately create a new way of working—one that allows for greater well-being, increased connection, and higher engagement. Technology will continue to be a huge enabler of the remote and hybrid options our workforce expects going forward.

By taking a cross-organizational approach, leaders can look above silos to help identify and prioritize key technology investments that not only continue to spur digital transformation but also prove critical as we develop hybrid policies that increase productivity, collaboration, and engagement among teams and clients. In addition, organizations can embrace the positive aspects of digital transformation to optimize individual and team performance and help ensure onsite and remote workers are collaborating in meaningful ways to meet business objectives.

INVESTING IN LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT TO RETAIN AND ATTRACT TALENT

We cannot be competitive without the ability to attract and retain the best talent, and while this has been a well-understood component of the workplace, it takes on even more importance in the face of today’s remarkably hot talent market and the era some are referring to as the “great reshuffle.” Our latest Fortune/CEO survey found that half of CEOs rank attracting and recruiting talent as one of their organization’s biggest challenges. As leaders, it’s essential we provide opportunities for workers to create value and perform fulfilling work that contributes to overall organizational growth.

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Leaders can steer the way in showcasing why talent should be treated as a line-item investment priority, and why investing in areas such as learning and development programs for professionals can help draw and retain talent—as well as evolve the skills of the workforce, better positioning an organization for success.

Today’s workers are placing more value on staying with organizations that provide intangible benefits like learning and development, and business leaders are taking notice. According to a 2019 report from LinkedIn, 94% of employees said that an investment in learning and development would keep them at the company longer. The 2021 iteration of the same report found that 59% of learning and development leaders rank upskilling and reskilling as a top priority.

It’s important to focus on the employee and make investments that address the individual. For example, our company launched Deloitte University 10 years ago, which provides employees with immersive experiences and new skill development programs to expand their network and career advancement opportunities.

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DRIVING TRANSPARENCY AND TRUST

As more and more organizations grapple with when to return to the office and engage in hybrid work, leaders managing through uncertainty should cultivate a culture that combines what made their organizations successful in the past with elements that have emerged out of the pandemic. Working virtually over the past year has empowered employees, and as a result, many experienced higher levels of motivation, productivity, and creativity. Leaders can emphasize the importance of trust and empowerment as drivers of growth; when employees are engaged and bring their best selves to work, the organization at large can reap the benefits.

Trust is what can bring us, as humans, together. It’s the essential bond that underpins the relationships we have with our people, our clients, and everyone in our ecosystem. As leaders, trust is the currency we can use to understand the needs of our teams and clients and to help deliver solutions to each new and complex issue shaping our world. Ultimately, it allows us to gather a wide range of insights and play the key connector that aligns teams and enables them to work toward a common future of growth and prosperity.

As we lead our organizations in a return to the workplace, we should appreciate the opportunity with which we are presented. By honing in on technology, talent, and trust, we can facilitate growth and allow collaboration, productivity, and innovation to thrive well into the future.

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Stacy Janiak is Chief Growth Officer of Deloitte US. 

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