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The Changing Face of the Modern Work Environment

By Disha Sharma
7 min read

With great customer service becoming the norm, companies are now gearing up to compete on the customer experience front. As customer experience becomes the โ€œcompetitive edge,โ€ enterprises of all levels are remodeling their work environments, preparing for the future where their every effort contributes to the best customer experience their industry can offer.

The focus on growing customer expectations is reshaping the way companies work. Whether itโ€™s tapping into freelance talent networks for the digital skills needed for delivering better experiences or the adoption of automation or AI, companies are racing to prepare themselves for the cognitive world where humans and tech will work together to deliver the best possible customer-business interactions.

Celonis is often at the heart of such transformations, bringing automation tech to people-first companies, so they can provide winning consumer experiences. Typically, there are three things at work in such a transition to the modern work environment.

A Shifting Workforce Composition

One of the cornerstones of the changing work environment is a digitally-equipped workforce that can adapt to the pace at which the work culture is evolving. And so hiring freelancers has emerged as a new and a very effective new talent acquisition and organization strategy.

Itโ€™s a trend thatโ€™s picking up fast and is a win-win for both the companies that need the newer digital skills and the people who want to offer them but want to work on โ€œflexibleโ€ schedules and terms.

Hiring freelancersโ€”which has often been associated with bootstrapped companies or small-time startupsโ€”is now becoming mainstream with even the biggest companies. In fact, using more freelancers and temporary workers is one of the top organizational changes happening in line with the work environment of the future.

Tech giants like Google and Facebook, e-commerce and physical retailers like Amazon and Walmart, and hundreds of leading B2B and B2C companies of all sizes and scales are turning to contract talent pools for the skills they need. Upwork, a talent sourcing platform, saw a 26% increase in its use by large enterprises in 2017 alone.

A closer look into the value a freelance workforce brings explains why itโ€™s becoming so popular:

The changing work environment calls for an adaptive, agile, and more productive workforce. And freelancers seamlessly bring these characteristics into an existing, solid workforce infrastructure.

Plus, the growing availability of talented freelancers is supportive of the trend. Take the U.S. workforce, for instance, where 50% of millennials are already freelancing. Or the UK, where half of the working population is expected to be self-employed within five years.

Tapping into freelancers, whether routinely or on an ad hoc basis, also gives these companies a head start in the โ€œwar for talent.โ€ It provides respite to the HR teams at companies that are looking for people with the appropriate (and sometimes highly specialized) skills.

Besides, with the decreasing shelf life of many existing workplace skills, freelancersโ€”who routinely upgrade their skillsโ€”emerge as much more employable as companies struggle to find the right resources.

Given the speed at which the modern work environment is evolving, many companies preparing for the future arenโ€™t just embracing freelancers and proactively building their private talent pools, theyโ€™re also building competitive schemes for attracting the best freelance talents.

Striking a Balanced Human-Tech Synergy

Another keystone of the changing work environment is the collaboration of human and tech resources. The human-tech collaboration macro trend is becoming increasingly dominant as it opens the door to a much higher global productivity. It offers an easy solution to the challenges that companies are facing today with productivity and employment growth (aging workforces, for instance, area big challenge for hiring teams).

By enhancing productivity, human-tech solutions will empower better and faster economic growth for any company that invests in them. Also, unlike earlier times, companies today are adopting a positive outlook toward automation tech like AI and its value in the changing work landscape. The existing workforce, too, is opening to the possibilities that AI-powered automation can bring and is much more optimistic about it than before.

But most companies arenโ€™t just accepting and embracing tech blindly. They also realize that itโ€™s only with the right combination of people and machines that theyโ€™ll be able to truly unlock the value of this kind of collaboration.

When it comes to getting the right people-tech team balance, itโ€™s important for companies to protect their people and explain to them that they need newer skills that they can be trained for, aka reskilling. Many companies that recognize this trend know that current job descriptions and profiles are becoming obsolete. That said, with the planning of the right reskilling programs, a company can upgrade its current workforceโ€™s technical know-how for the changing work scenario.

Building a reassuring narrative for existing employees is the single most important thing to address in this regard, as employees who are insecure about their jobs will suffer from low productivity. The answer to this lies in โ€œre-configuringโ€ current roles and providing the needed training and skills for newer roles. In this way, the company benefits from its investment in the historical knowledge of in-house talent and the tech collaboration that will continue to improve productivity and innovation.

Reimagining Business Operations for the Future

The adoption of the right talent acquisition tactics like working with freelancers (or contractors) and striving for a balance between the human-tech collaboration still leaves out one critical part of the modern work mix: the business operations or processes. How the business processes of the future will work is the third most significant area of the changing work environment.

As consumers become more and more demanding, companies are having to reinvent their business operations, focusing on providing a seamless and exceptional customer experience. And quite not-so-surprisingly, โ€œintelligentโ€ business operations are only possible when a company has the right skills (or work resources) for the future, and when it deploys AI and automation systems that give it the competitive advantage. All of this while giving its people an environment where they can thrive and work their best with their newer tech.

The key challenge with optimizing business operations around customer experience is that business operations are the driving force of a companyโ€™s infrastructure. Which means that working on business operations means working on everything right from the small client-facing customer support interactions to growing a better partner network thatโ€™s more rewarding for the end customers and choosing solution providers who can actually contribute toward a better customer experience.

Building an adaptive workforce, realigning work values with the companyโ€™s customer experience goals and designing new workflows that are both tech and human-enabled are just a few ways to get started on the road to success in the modern workplace.

Moving Your Business Forward

The rapidly evolving modern work environment is all about using and developing the best balance of human and tech resources with optimized processes that result in amazing experiences (for the stakeholders, including customers).

But to prepare for the workplace of tomorrow, you need to start today. Whether itโ€™s reworking your companyโ€™s vision in the current work landscape to fine-tuning your current infrastructure so it supports the agility needed for the future, thereโ€™s a lot to be done.

While every company has different goals, the above challenges often require the most preparation in order to pivot to the future. Celonis routinely helps organizations see and accept necessary changes so they can more easily adapt to the shifting expectations and requirements that will make them most competitive and successful in a modern work environment.

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