Our Future of Work, Now podcast is back for 2021, starting with a new season examining the all-digital, work from anywhere world.
Accelerated by the pandemic, the “work from anywhere” model is here to stay and not just because of the continued need for social distancing. Employees who were previously office-based have embraced the flexibility of remote working and proved they can be effective from anywhere. Likewise, businesses are adapting to this new reality and seizing the moment to reimagine their operations.
In the latest episode of our podcast, Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce, reflects on this digital transformation and offers five lessons that businesses can take from 2020:
Vala suggested the world has experienced ten years of cultural and digital acceleration in the last year as companies sped up their adoption of digital technologies. These include technologies like contactless payments, customer relationship management (CRM), and artificial intelligence (AI).
“Many businesses had these technologies on their roadmap, but they were considered nice to have versus must haves. Now, they are a necessity to survive,” said Vala.
The widespread transition to working from home last year challenged the idea that work is a place. Vala said that outside of jobs where there’s a physical dependency—like in healthcare or manufacturing—people should be able to work from anywhere. However, this will require businesses to invest and adapt their processes, culture, and technology.
“Who would have thought that the vast majority of the workforce would be working remotely last year. That’s an incredible pivot culturally in terms of accepting that people can contribute successfully without being in the office.”
Brands are now being defined by how they protect their employees, customers, partners, and communities. In addition, safety concerns have dealt a heavy blow to brand loyalty.
“Seventy-five percent of consumers have changed brands in the past ten months because of safety concerns. Those are unheard of numbers and offer lessons for businesses,” said Vala.
As businesses went completely digital, they had to earn the trust of their stakeholders by demonstrating relevance and speed to value. Businesses with decentralised or cloud-based operations had a head start as they were designed for movement.
“The reason Salesforce could move 54,000 employees to work from home in a matter of days is because we are a cloud computing-first company. All our business applications are in the cloud and we are designed for movement. We don’t need to go into the office to get our job done,” said Vala.
Asked what lesson individuals could take from 2020, Vala talked about the need to remain teachable. He said this will be the most important skill in the next normal as people face continued change, both personally and professionally.
“I am reminded that only ten percent of patients that go through open heart surgery change their life habits. Even though they go through a life changing experience, nine out of ten people continue to have the same habits in terms of diet, rest, and exercise. What that tells us is that staying teachable is hard and if you can do that successfully— learn, unlearn, and relearn—it is a super power,” said Vala.
Wrapping up the podcast, Vala also offered his view on the one technology advancement from last year that businesses should embrace to succeed in the digital economy.
“My advice for businesses of all sizes and sectors is to take the time to understand the power of AI. It is electricity for businesses and you’ll be left in the dark without it,” said Vala.
Listen to the full podcast to hear more from Vala on how digitisation is accelerating and changing the future of work. Access the podcast on demand at our podcasts page, Spotify, and iTunes. You can also listen over at the Singapore Community Radio Twitch page, Facebook page, and website.
Our next episode will air at 1:00 p.m. SGT Friday, January 22. Tune in to hear from Goh Shuet-Li, Executive Director of the Resilience Collective.
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