Five trends shaping the future of workplaces – Manila Bulletin
More than two years into the pandemic, organizations in the Philippines are slowly returning to their offices. With Metro Manila and most parts of the country now at Alert Level 1, the most lenient restrictions set by authorities amid the current health crisis, businesses are beginning to require their employees to return to the office using hybrid working arrangements.
This reality remains a concern for some organizations, such as those in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, the largest employer in the private sector. In 2020, the industry, which includes non-voice services ranging from computer support to call centers to animation, created more jobs from home, helping those displaced by the pandemic. After increasing its workforce, BPO employed about 1.32 million people in 2021, according to the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP). Over the next two years, those numbers are expected to reach 1.46 million.
In April, however, the authorities ask BPO employees to work on site. Government guidelines previously allowed the BPO industry to retain its tax breaks while allowing 90% of its employees to work from home, until April 1. WFH Program for its Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) and Registered Business Enterprises (RBE) until September 12, 2022.
What does this mean for organizations across the country? What are the key considerations companies need to make to ensure their workplace is ready for hybrid setups and the future of work?
As organizations now massively adopt hybrid configurations, SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) believes that business resiliency and agility have come to the fore. This means that workplace procedures are increasingly prioritized for efficiency, customization and flexibility.
Five trends are shaping workplaces, now and in the future, identified by SAP:
Rise of the hybrid workforce. In recent years, gig/remote workers and hyper-skilled consultants have formed an increasingly important segment of the workforce. The Philippines, in fact, is the sixth fastest growing economy for the gig economy in 2019, according to a report by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Amid the pandemic, organizations in most industries are being forced into rapid on-demand and hybrid workforce expansion, especially as they seek to stay competitive by providing employees with options for more flexible work. This growing trend underscores that if workplace operations allow it, forming dynamic teams based on task-oriented skills might be preferable instead of hiring employees with generalist skills to be physical and permanently located in the office. . These teams can also work within a much less centralized and hierarchical structure.
AI in the workplace. With the rise of artificial intelligence, hybrid work setups can take advantage of this technology, for example to automate tasks and minimize errors. AI in already skilled and talented teams can enable them to achieve superior results, with the benefits of advanced analytics, machine learning and big data management on their side.
Development and retraining talents. Integrating AI and other digital tools into the workplace requires specialized training. With a more distributed workforce, this requires more complex communication processes
New ways of working with a distributed workforce also have a learning curve as they require more complex communication processes and remote working technologies. But as the adoption of AI and new technologies creates a need for digital upskilling and reskilling, it also provides innovative solutions to deliver this training. For example, companies can use AI-augmented virtual reality (VR) experiences to customize training procedures.
Diversity and Inclusion. Companies today are increasingly proving that workforce diversity leads to greater innovation, success and employee satisfaction. A recent McKinsey study found that companies in the country’s top quartile for diversity outperformed their competitors by 36%.
SAP, for example, has also proactively promoted diversity, inclusion, social justice and work. These initiatives aim to ensure that its workforce reflects gender parity and the demographics of all regions where it has employees.
Employee engagement and well-being. As businesses embrace hybrid setups, organizations are also making employee experience a top priority. A recent survey published by Willis Towers Watson found that 95% of Filipino employers said improving the employee experience will be an important priority for their organization over the next three years.
However, with increasingly remote workforces, achieving employee satisfaction and high levels of employee engagement can be a challenge. To achieve this commitment, HR leaders today are turning to AI and new HR technologies to deliver augmented experiences and big data analytics.
“Empowering the workforce through technology”
With the developments brought by the pandemic, experts believe hybrid work setups are here to stay. Companies using hybrid models need to ensure strong, skilled employees who feel valued, supported, and empowered by technology to attract and retain a highly engaged and productive workforce. The future of work is coming fast, especially for organizations that are transforming their workplaces, their people, and the nature of work through innovative ideas and solutions.
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