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Superjobs and the remote workforce

October 22, 2019

Q&A from our Superjobs Dbriefs webinar

As we reimagine work for the future, we think about not only What the work will be, but also Who can do it and Where it can be done.

Work, Workforce, and Workplace are Interrelated Considerations in the Future of Work

Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2019

Superjobs highlight the What angle. Given the growth—and growing capabilities—of automation, we’re seeing a rise in hybrid jobs that combine previously distinct skill sets, augmented by technology. These hybrid jobs have titles like designers, architects, and analysts that combine both hard/technical skills like coding and data analysis with soft/human skills like communication and collaboration and curiosity. Superjobs are the next evolution of hybrids, combining not only different skill sets but also entire jobs that were previously distinct.

With superjobs as the What, our participant’s question about remote work touches on the Who and Where angles—the workforce and workplace.

Why remote work is even on the table
Organizations should think about workforce and workplace differently for a number of reasons. First, the war for talent is ongoing, and talent is not always located or available where the organization is, especially high-demand talent. Second, superjobs, like hybrid jobs, demand “enduring human capabilities” like adaptability, creativity, and imagination as much as they do domain skills, so that narrows the talent pool even more.

Within this narrow pool, workers with these skills are in the driver’s seat, typically able to pick and choose where, how, and for whom they want to work. In general, people want a more flexible and engaging work experience, which often means the ability to work remotely.

Some roles, and some industries, naturally lend themselves to remote work and have been operating that way for years. Think of the tech industry and its use of remote software engineers and other technologists, and the consulting industry, where proximity to an airport is often more important than proximity to a company office. For other industries, the opportunity to accommodate remote work can come through reimagining work to bring in more flexibility, depending on the role. Leveraging this opportunity to enable remote work comes with potential cost savings, access to a more diverse workforce, a better employee experience, and more meaningful work. In return, organizations usually have to overcome some potential challenges, including the need for a different mindset, different management approaches, or barriers related to workplace culture.

So, let’s look at the “how” of remote work.

How can organizations adopt a more flexible workplace structure to accommodate remote work?
As we noted in our Superjobs Dbriefs, many organizations we work with have found it helpful to take a practical approach to bring what can seem like a theoretical or speculative exercise—reimagining work for the Future of Work—down to earth.

  • IMAGINE the possibilities about how to change work, the workforce, and workplace capabilities.
  • COMPOSE the work in new ways to take advantage of the digital capabilities that are available.
  • ACTIVATE those imagined approaches and new ways of doing things in the workforce.

When considering remote work, Imagine-Compose-Activate should look like this:

Step 1: Consider the Why.
What is the reason for considering remote work? The matrix below can help you identify the drivers. Organizations that primarily use remote work as a cost-saving measure or as a fallback mechanism will not be able to accomplish the best results.

Source: Deloitte analysis, 2019

Cost reasons and operational efficiencies need to be balanced with support for growth and development, and instilling meaning. Establish a strategy for remote or flexible work that is right for your organization.

Step 2: Rethink the work.
Just because the job is a superjob doesn’t mean that the work can automatically be done remotely. What outcomes are you looking to accomplish? Are customers or access to resources demanding a specific location? For example, a combined career/financial adviser (one of our examples of a superjob) might not be flexible in terms of location if customer expectations require in-person contact.

Superjobs by their nature are not automatically flexible or location independent. Work needs to drive the amount of flexibility that is theoretically possible, and then needs to align with the organization’s strategy. Certain industries—like technology or professional services—might naturally be more conducive to remote work. Others—like health care or manufacturing—might also have opportunities for remote work, but each needs to be specific to the work, even for superjobs.

Step 3: Make it happen.
If remote work is useful and feasible, making it work effectively involves several factors:

  • Organizational readiness: Setting up structures, processes, and technologies to make it work, including collaboration mechanisms; the ability to manage by outcomes, not presence; and supporting technologies, like video conferencing, virtual watercoolers, and teaming tools.
  • Leadership and management readiness: Developing leaders and managers on effective behaviors to manage remotely, which can be very different for people accustomed to a more shoulder-to-shoulder workplace.
  • Individual and team readiness: Helping people thrive in virtual environments, which includes fostering belonging and meaning.

We’re excited by the potential for superjobs in the Future of Work. In our next post addressing participant questions from the Superjobs Dbriefs, we’ll look at ways to help people currently in traditional jobs to be ready for superjobs.

Arthur Mazoris a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, and the Global HR Transformation Practice Leader. Art collaborates with complex, global clients to drive business value through transforming human capital strategies, programs, and services.

Kathi Enderes PhD, is a vice president and the talent & workforce research leader at BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Originally published at Capital H blog