As procurement teams return to work after a somewhat disrupted 2021 festive period, there’s a renewed focus on flexible work, employee wellbeing and hybrid office environments.
The Omicron outbreak in Australia could peak by the end of January in most Australian states and territories. Many procurement professionals will have started the year in remote (or hybrid) work settings. While the acceleration in digitization has led to teams thriving in the “new norm”, it’s also led to employees overworking and feeling isolated.
It’s a new year, same problems? But what will this all look like? Here’s Procurement and Supply Australasia’s Top Workplace changes you can expect in 2022.
Flexibility is here to stay
The world of work has changed forever. That’s a given, we’re not going back. Hybrid work environments have torn up the rule book.
A global survey by PWC found that only 10 percent of respondents sought to return to a traditional work environment. A staggering 74 percent of Australian respondents reported that they wanted a mix of face-to-face and remote working.
It’s not just the private sector getting used to hybrid work environments. The public sector is following suit with the Victorian Government adopting a new flexible working policy allowing workers to work from home for three days as a rule. Additionally, Victorian government employees can determine where they will work, be it at a collab hub, office or at home. Gov Hubs provide employees a new movement in flexible workplace strategies.
Going back to the dark ages of the 9-to-5, feels like a step back to the….dark ages.
Employee wellbeing can’t be ignored
Procurement leaders must consider the wellbeing of their staff and how best a workplace can be optimised to give a hybrid workplace the best opportunity to thrive.
Flexible work allows all the opportunity to have a work-life balance. Procurement managers need to work with employees to create solutions that work for everyone. Managers should have ongoing discussions with staff and make a strong commitment to a workplace policy.
Sufficient policies, programs, and safety mechanisms need to be in place to mitigate the risks associated with wellbeing. This includes providing the right information to help employees “switch off”.
Flexibility goes a long way in attracting and retaining staff. It’s become a theme in the “war on talent.” Job ads offering permanent work from home arrangements increased by 95% in 2021, as reported by the Business Insider. Many experts say this is now the main factor to land highly-skilled workers.
Tech Giants Canva and Atlassian both introduced workplace policies requiring employees to attend the office in-person less than eight times a year. Atlassian lets all employees work remotely under it’s TEAM Anywhere program.
Get ready for more interactive experiences
The metaverse looks set to be a hot topic in 2022 and one for the procurement world to watch closely.
Facebook changed its name to “Meta” in 2021 as it focuses on bringing the “metaverse to life” to help people connect, find communities and grow businesses. Microsoft is also investing heavily in the technology.
In short, the metaverse provides a virtual-reality environment for users to interact. It’s one not to be ignored as businesses continue to invest in virtual engagements for customers and staff.
Procurement leaders need to keep this “virtual shift” in mind when procuring technology to enhance customer and employee experiences. Both employees and customers will continue to expect to be able to engage with businesses virtually especially with the purchase of VR headsets on the rise.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology offer consumers and staff more immersive experiences. Statista reported by 2024 there will be an estimated 1.7 billion mobile augmented reality (AR) users worldwide – up from 200 million in 2015. Prospective employees are being offered the chance to trial jobs virtually in the US and companies including Accenture have bought 60,000 VR headsets for training, with Bank of America rolling out a VR training program across more than 4000 locations. (Source: Tech Target)
Digital transformation acceleration phase two
The pandemic “put the foot on the gas” for digital transformation and more is on the way. Technological innovations should help mitigate many challenges which made 2021 a misery for lots of procurement professionals.
As reported by Supply Chain Brain, artificial intelligence-powered systems will be in high demand, due to their advanced analytics capabilities. Supply chain teams are increasingly seeking insights that improve predictability and inform decision making.
We’re going to see more AI-powered automation in the procurement sector in the form of contract-review tools that can help improve the entire process.
Elsewhere on the tech front, expect the trend to desktop dashboards, built on cloud-based widgets, with text feeds from legacy systems, to continue. (As we reported last year). Microsoft POWER BI in other words (free with Microsoft 365) or TABLEAU software (if you are feeling flush).