How exactly is, therefore, COVID-19 reshaping business leadership and what will the future of work in the post-pandemic world really look like? To discuss this, our CEO Alain Dehaze joined Monocle’s editor-in-chief, Tyler Brûlé on the latest episode of The Way To Work Podcast.
The COVID-19 pandemic will change the world of work permanently. Until recently, many aspects of the future of work including reskilling, decentralised workplace and deployment of new technology were perceived by companies as an advantage to help them get ahead of the curve. Today they are seen more as a necessity.
The coronavirus crisis: An opportunity to put people first
In the podcast, Alain Dehaze explains that just like many other companies, the Adecco Group has had to face up to the new reality. The company’s focus has been on putting people first while trying to sustain and continue the service to customers.
To that end, one of the challenges was to reinforce its IT infrastructure to accommodate the switch to remote work for as many as 27,000 employees (80% of the workforce). This transformation has been underpinned by innovation and the use of digital tools in order to meet the growing demand from some of the expanding segments of the economy, namely e-commerce and logistics.
More generally speaking, the changes prompted by the coronavirus pandemic have also led to a shift in business leadership. And while the crisis is indeed accelerating many aspects of the future of work such as digitization, it is also important to ensure that the future will work for everyone. The workplaces will need to become more inclusive and social protection will need to expand to cover all forms of work to not leave any workers behind.
Companies need to show leadership
One of the key changes to how corporations operate is that during this pandemic companies have had to improve their communication to provide guidance and direction not only to their associates and clients but also to the general public. More and more citizens expect businesses to help governments cope with the crisis and offer real solutions.
While we do know that the world of work is being reshaped for good, the change that we are witnessing today will most likely take many shapes and forms in the future. Alain Dehaze expects that the wave of digitization and the increase in the number of people working from home will modify our relationship with work. But he also notes that our offices and shared workspaces that have now largely gone virtual are important for social interactions and thus it would be premature to be writing them off.
The world of work needs a new Social Contract
Due to the economic difficulties caused by COVID-19 and the measures taken by governments to mitigate these costs, it is safe to say that the pandemic has shed a light on many of the shortcomings of the current social contract. Alain Dehaze, therefore, expects that companies will have to become more tech-savvy and that they will have to recognize the need for more flexibility when it comes to their workforce. All the while, workers will demand more security which would have to expand to cover all forms of work, including the gig economy. To address this, Alain Dehaze suggests the world should aim for a structural change that could be delivered by adopting a new Social Contract.