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Five Ways Businesses Around The World Are Adapting In Response To COVID-19

Last week, the World Economic Forum released the Future of Jobs Report, which maps the jobs and skills of the future, tracks the pace of change, and sheds light on the pandemic-related disruptions in 2020.

The report details how COVID-19 has impacted the labour market, noting that the circumstances once deemed “the future of work” have already arrived.

“COVID-19 has accelerated the arrival of the future of work,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “Accelerating automation and the fallout from the COVID-19 recession has deepened existing inequalities across labour markets and reversed gains in employment made since the global financial crisis in 2007-2008. It’s a double disruption scenario that presents another hurdle for workers in this difficult time. The window of opportunity for proactive management of this change is closing fast. Businesses, governments and workers must plan to urgently work together to implement a new vision for the global workforce.”

It’s safe to assume that some of the sudden and major changes brought about by the pandemic will have a long-term impact on the way organisations operate. The Future of Jobs report predicts that the workplace is unlikely to ever get “back to normal.” Instead, leaders should brace for (and prepare to adapt to) a new kind of normal.

Top Five Ways Businesses Are Adapting Post-COVID-19

The Future of Jobs report details several ways businesses plan to adapt in response to COVID-19, including the five points listed below.

1. Accelerate the digitalisation of work processes

The shift to digitalisation in the workplace was already well underway, but the coronavirus pandemic has wildly accelerated this trend. The workforce has been forced to embrace remote working, online conferences and events, and a near-total freeze on business travel.

For those organisations that have failed to embrace digital transformation thus far, the pandemic has served as a somewhat harsh wake-up call that digitalisation will indeed be the bedrock of a surviving and thriving business.

2. Provide more opportunities to work remotely

The Australian government was quick to enforce stringent COVID-19 safety measures, which meant businesses had little time to close their office doors and prepare for the shift to remote working.

Going forward, it’s expected that organisations will provide more opportunities for flexible working. But factors such as employee wellbeing and mental health will need to be considered. As many as 34% of leaders responding to the Future of Jobs survey reported that they were actively taking steps to create a sense of community online and tackle the challenges associated with employee wellbeing.

3. Accelerate the automation of tasks

The pandemic was quick to highlight the sectors and industries in which workers were most at risk of contracting the virus. Factories and food processing plants, for example, where workers are often expected to work in confined spaces or close proximity to other employees, suffered from numerous and severe outbreaks of coronavirus around the world.

In response, many organisations have quickly accelerated their adoption of robotics and automation including everything from cleaning and delivery robots to patient triaging robots in hospitals and robot de-boners in meat processing plants.

4. Accelerate the digitalisation of upskilling/ re-skilling

As a result of COVID-19, organisations are adopting digitalisation and automation far more quickly than expected. It’s more important than ever before to upskill and re-skill the workforce to prevent a digital underclass in the coming months.

A recent McKinsey survey revealed that 87% of executives are experiencing skills gaps in their workforce, or expect to experience them in a few years.

Forward-thinking organisations are already investing funds and efforts in upskilling and re-skilling their workforce, which will likely include a greater focus on digital training.

5. Accelerate ongoing organisational transformations

The pandemic has pushed organisations to innovate and adapt faster than ever before.

Whether it’s operating at full capacity with a significantly depleted workforce, reassigning duties, retraining employees, retrofitting factories, manufacturing new products, or launching new services – these tumultuous times have highlighted the importance of running an agile organisation.

Moving forward, it’s likely that organisations will embrace quicker decision-making, the streamlining of processes, and faster implementation of transformative initiatives.

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