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Future of Work

Defining Business Resilience in 2021: Insights from Salesforce, Business Leaders and Academics

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Salesforce’s Resilience Recast five-part podcast series concluded this week with a discussion on how companies can maintain a seamless relationship with customers in a post-pandemic world.

The podcast series, created in collaboration with Reuters, brought together a range of global thought leaders — from Salesforce and beyond — to discuss how business leaders can rethink their strategies to build and innovate for the future of work, create a more equal society, and be strategic with resilience.

Five key insights emerged from the discussions:

To remain agile, companies must embrace diversity and decentralize decision-making

For organizations to identify and respond effectively amid uncertainty, teams need to embrace diversity in their backgrounds, skills and knowledge. 

“100% of the time I’ve been wrong about the future is because the team wasn’t diverse enough,” said Peter Schwartz, Futurist & Senior Vice President, Salesforce

Professor Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development at the University of Oxford, highlighted the additional importance of decentralized, or organic, decision-making for maximum agility. 

“I think what’s most important is that we move from an individualism dominating our decisions and society towards a more collective understanding of our needs from I to we, from me to us,” he said.

Workplace resilience must be built over time

Resilience must be a fundamental pillar to leading any organization, from building trust with employees, to serving customers, to driving business strategies. In an all-digital, work-from-anywhere world, this means putting plans in place to operate between in-person and virtual models. 

David Rodriguez, Executive Vice President & Global Chief HR Officer, Marriott International explains that his company’s concern for employees is an ongoing focus; the programs it’s had in place to support peoples’ emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing have helped the organization to get through the pandemic together. 

“The resilience of your workforce doesn’t start with a program you may roll out today to deal with a crisis like a pandemic,” he added.

The hybrid ways of working we’ve become accustomed to, made possible with the accelerated adoption of digital technologies and collaborative tools, is key to prioritizing the health and wellbeing of employees. 
“I truly believe that the nine-to-five workday is dead; the future of work is in the cloud,” said Dr. Ashwini Zenooz, former Chief Medical Officer at Salesforce.

Technology can help reimagine the future of jobs 

Dr Johanna Adami, President of Sophiahemmet University in Sweden, shared how her institution quickly established and scaled online education courses to retrain thousands of airline cabin crew, hospitality and transportation employees to support the health and care sector. 

“I was very happy to see that so many [participants] expressed that they wanted to have a career in health care instead of their former careers,” she said, adding that the same approach could equip communities to tackle other global challenges like climate change.

Supermarket giant Tesco was able to step away from traditional methods and processes to recruit 50,000 new employees and a condensed time frame of training while maintaining customer service levels during the pandemic. 

As Natasha Adams, Tesco Chief People Officer, explained, “What technology and a different mindset can allow you to do is actually jobs you never thought you could.”

Flexibility can drive greater equality and productivity

The resilient companies of the future are likely to be those that create equitable work environments where everyone can thrive. Beyond exploring flexible working models, companies can rethink their real estate and create an environment that better suits the needs of employees and their new working habits. 
Pip Marlow, CEO ANZ & ASEAN, Salesforce, explained how the company’s Sydney office has become a greater place for human connection and a hub for collaboration.

To maintain customer loyalty, innovate with purpose

To remain resilient, companies must listen to the needs of customers and solve their problems by launching new initiatives or products quickly. 

Starling Bank designed its fund application journeys in a way that could be completed quickly from anywhere, and Connected Card allowed vulnerable customers to give a separate card to somebody who could do their shopping for them with limited controls. 

Helen Bierton, Chief of Banking at Starling Bank explained that, “Sometimes I think customers don’t know what they want. They know what their problem is. And then you have to try and take that problem and adapt and find a way to make it work.”

For Amazon, answering the priorities of customers was key to handling surges in demand. This explains why shipping products like sanitizers, office products and children’s books were given priority. 

Stefano Perego, Vice President of EU Operations, reflected how sharing this direct sense of purpose was a great element of resilience. “If you can create the right environment with your people, I think the pressure becomes less of an issue and kicks in motivation… to know that what you’re doing matters is very important.”

All five podcast episodes are now available on Reuters’s Resilience Recast page here.


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