The following is a contributed opinion piece from Lakshmi Raj, co-founder and co-CEO of Replicon. Opinions expressed are author's own.
As business leaders across the globe explore the safest and smartest path towards post-pandemic recovery, one thing is clear: the workplace as we know it is gone. We can expect to hear countless references to a "before" and an "after," and can see clear distinctions in everything from traffic patterns to in-office setups.
But not all changes will be as obvious as a six-foot distance between workstations or a meeting room full of masked employees. Less tangible, but equally important, are the changes that happen quietly; the subtle but widespread attitude and perspective transformations that ultimately prove the most powerful in redefining business after COVID-19. It's time we reevaluate what comes first.
Before, the CFO's primary objective was accommodating stakeholders, delivering the right numbers, demonstrating profitability, and everything in between. But the paradigm has shifted. Now, our success relies on executives centering employee security, connection, wellness, and satisfaction.
Supporting this dramatic shift in priority will require a more nuanced approach to recovery planning. While many organizations have implemented on-site safety measures and requirements, smart senior executives see a longer-term solution: company-wide digital transformation.
The modernization, automation, and cutting-edge technologies many business leaders once considered aspirational have quickly become indispensable. The pandemic has proven an incredibly powerful catalyst for change, and accelerating automation, transformation, and other new ways of work, remote or otherwise, will help leaders support both employees and stakeholders.
Developing an effective, employee-centered strategy for digital transformation begins with empathy, and authority. You are your employees' number one advocate and decision-maker. Consider: which tools, processes, and environments will best support your remote workforce and drive performance in the long-term?
For instance, modern cloud and mobile time-tracking capabilities enable access, uptime, and security, while ensuring rapid employee adoption and real-time visibility into productivity when working in sync with an organization's existing ecosystem.
An agile ecosystem equipped to evolve without disruption will also be critical in this process. Accurate, consistent metrics around time allow for valuable analysis, and help businesses manage people, projects, costs, and profits, even amid total unpredictability.
Creating these favorable conditions requires a flexible, resilient, and centralized solution that replaces manual workflows and eliminates silos.
Of course, introducing so many remote workers into the workforce will have significant implications, many beneficial, some challenging. The upsides include savings on administrative overhead like real estate, utilities, and in-office perks, while the downsides include lost productivity due to feelings of isolation or disconnection.
The question of how well we are able to remotely facilitate collaboration and manage productivity will persist. And, of course, even as businesses shift to a more employee-focused approach, addressing shareholder needs must remain an integral part of the process.
But the pros and cons are really just two sides of the same coin: effective management, visibility, productivity, and collaboration can offer an unparalleled advantage; less effective management turns these key levers against you.
Business leaders: it's time to focus our energy on our employees, the driving force of performance and outcomes. Stakeholders need not be abandoned, but we must recognize their requirements are no longer elevated doctrine in a post-pandemic society.
Employees need our support right now, and we will increasingly rely on them as the workplace continues evolving. Ultimately, new problems call for new solutions, which must be up to the task when it comes to adaptability, flexibility, and ease-of-use.