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Workplace transformation in the age of uncertainty

The “Great Resignation” has left workforces decimated. So, how can businesses rebuild for resilience in a world of increasing disruption – and what are the areas that they should focus on?

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The “big bang” disruption caused by Covid-19 was previously unimaginable for most organisations. But, looking through the lens of business transformation, the onset of the pandemic was just the beginning of a longer and multi-faceted period of increased disruption.

The world’s businesses are in a heightened state of flux as a result of accelerated digital transformation, unprecedented skills shortages and shifts in workforce location, not to mention pre-existing pressures that predated the pandemic. As Rupert Morrison, CEO and co-founder of orgvue, observes, organisations are struggling with the acceleration of the speed of change “if you’re not moving as fast as the market, by definition, you’re hitting failure – no one can rest on their laurels”. In this context, stabilising businesses, replanning for an uncertain future and in-building resilience against future disruptive events has, arguably, never mattered more.

In partnership with orgvue, WIRED brought together global business leaders across a range of industries to source their views on how organisations can successfully navigate the path ahead and redesign work for this age of uncertainty.

The workforce is reshaping at unprecedented speed

A clear legacy of the pandemic, and one that many of the world’s businesses are currently grappling with, is unprecedented workforce churn – often referred to as “The Great Resignation”. This phenomenon is amplifying the pain of widespread skills shortages that were already being felt thanks to a range of issues, including, in the UK, the impact of Brexit. Currently, there are a trio of drivers for the Great Resignation, each impacting different areas of the workforce.

The war for digital talent has intensified, driving churn amongst this cohort. In-demand digital skills, which were already highly sought after before the pandemic, are now even more coveted. As a result, those members of the workforce that hold the pivotal skills that can enable workforce transformation are being tempted away by impressive pay packets and additional benefits. As Stephan Pretorius, WPP’s chief technology officer, summarises, at the moment “there’s a real stratification of the labour market as those with the most desirable skills pull further away from the rest of the workforce.” Companies have always had to battle with top talent being headhunted away, but the stakes just got higher in an increasingly digitised corporate world.

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