The IDC (Industrial Development Corporation) of South Africa defines the Future of Work as business transformation focused on the intersection of three key components: talent management, the digital workspace, and the culture that brings digital transformation together.
By Jason Timm, CEO of CloudSmiths
In my mind, the last component is the most important of the three.
I want to tell you what I have learned (especially in the past 14 months) are my four most important pillars of future proofing the CloudSmiths business – all related to our company culture. Applying these in your own business will hopefully help you to get the most out of your people and define your workplace culture.
Pillar 1: Trust
Ernest Hemingway said: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
The first step on the journey to getting your business ready for the future of work is to have a team that functions with mutual trust. It’s the theme that has seen our business survive the current pandemic and has even enabled us to thrive, despite the pervasive worldwide economic and social climate. Trust is a central pillar that connects you to your staff, your clients, and your products. It’s hard to build and easy to lose. We solidified our employees’ trust by laying out a clear and transparent plan and providing the team with weekly updates. We also sent a clear message about working from home: I may not physically see you, but I know you’ll get it done.
Insight and takeaway: We learned that no amount of technology to enable working from home or other forms of digital transformation will ever replace trust in your business.
Pillar 2: Quantifiability
This somewhat uninspiring word reminds me of the years I spent in software consulting, in the risk and audit space. But despite the word’s lack of creative flair, the concept of quantification is the cornerstone of trust. It’s evidence of trust in practice. The more you measure and quantify in your business, the more you solidify your pillar of trust. Measuring what matters for your staff and customers shows that you intend to do what you say. Whether you use V2MOM, OKR or trusty KPI, measure what matters. Set your big objectives, lay out your goals and your individual tasks, and measure your progress, and your outcomes.
Insight and takeaway: As we move into the future of work, the best companies will be those who consistently measure – and improve the areas where they need the biggest impact.
Pillar 3: Transparency
When it’s done right, transparency is where trust meets quantifiable outcomes. In other words, I say I will do X. When measured, X has – or has not – been achieved. I share the results with my people and my customer. My transparency allows us to celebrate, strive for better, or apply corrective action. The opposite occurs when we have low trust plus uncertain expectations. This results in micromanagement. We cover our tracks, we lay blame, we make excuses. We have zero transparency, so we can’t find the problem and fix it.
How do we uphold transparency in the CloudSmiths space? Ours is a services business that effectively sells time, therefore accurate tracking is essential. We use a combination of teams, so things can’t be hidden. We work in the cloud, which means documents are available to every member of the team. Because everything we do is in the cloud, we always have a ‘Single Source of the Truth’. Everything we work on is in real time, secure, and available 24/7. The outcome of using these tools to collaborate transparently is better engagement from all employees, and increased alignment. It’s a new journey for us. We’re publicly sharing business goals (and aligning them with our employees). Timesheets are shared, which stimulates competition among the top performers. We’re accountable and we work together to achieve our goals. We believe peak performance is a product of collaboration and accountability.
Insight and takeaway: Transparency is built on many factors, and leads to a multitude of positive outcomes, the best of which is better relationships. Transparency has a ripple effect throughout the entire business. The future of work demands transparency to uphold trust across teams.
Pillar 4: Mobility
As consumers, we expect service providers to meet our needs on any device wherever we are. However, as businesses we’ve been reluctant to adopt technologies to enable this. Now, no one needs convincing anymore, it’s all about ensuring that employees can be hyper productive anywhere. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff runs a $143b company from an iPhone. “I don’t even own a computer anymore,” Benioff said in an interview with Apple CEO, Tim Cook.
Insight and takeaway: Make it easy for your employees to work from anywhere, without compromising the security, standards and productivity of your business.
In his book called Principles, American billionaire investor Ray Dalio shares a thought that prepared me for the future of work. He says: “Be Radically Open Minded.” Those four words were my compass throughout the pandemic and will be my compass into the future. We have been forced into moving away from “how we’ve always done things” into embracing open mindedness. Instead of fighting against change, embrace it. The making of these decisions will be difficult. If you want to stay relevant and be ready for the future of work, you’ll need to take them.