Sep 25, 2020

Verizon Business: leadership in the workplace of the future

Verizon Business
Sampath Sowmyanarayan
4 min
Future workplace
Sampath Sowmyanarayan, President, Global Enterprise at Verizon Business on how to lead differently in the workplace of the future...

Is the future of work a bionic organisation? This seems increasingly likely in a post-COVID ‘business as unusual’ environment, where organisations will need to intertwine the possibilities offered by technology with human capabilities to be successful. 

The starting point is for organisations to think about remote working in the context of broader business trends. The paper I recently wrote with Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business and Boston Consulting Group shows that pre-COVID, there were already two key trends changing the workplace: pervasive technology and data, deeply embedded in the business; and a dramatic shift in the talent pool, in terms of both candidate expectations, and required skillsets. Business leaders therefore need to be considering how they can leverage technology as an enabler to support remote working, but also acknowledge that their future organisational state will need to be more organic and flexible than in recent years.

The How, Who and Where

To achieve this, organisations firstly need to focus on what technology they need, and specifically their data and digital platforms. More importantly, they also should look at how humans and machines, as well as humans and humans, interact across their business. A useful approach to consider is to examine the how, who and where.

  • “How” is about organising for change by deploying an agile way of working, focused on collaboration and rapid decision making, at scale. In a decentralised workplace, allowing employees to thrive in tech-enabled and interconnected teams, rather than being reliant on formal reporting hierarchies, rigid job descriptions, and processes, will be key to success.
  • “Who” is about organising change for and through new talent and skills. With organisations looking to use technology in new and different ways, they will also need to look differently at the talent pool - new, emerging skillsets will be at a premium. The challenge will be where to find this talent – and how to balance the acquisition of new skills against upskilling and retraining existing employees. One thing is clear - the gig economy is likely to have an important role to play, causing a dramatic change to existing corporate structures.  
  • “Where” is about organising location changes – whether flexible and tailored remote or onsite working models. The first consideration is the inevitability of physical work locations ceding into hybrid virtual and physical models, especially as flexible working models start to gain prominence. The challenge here is that many business leaders have grown up in office-based work models, and the concept of flexibility demands a big shift in thinking. However, we already know that the opportunity for flexible work is prized by many employees.

Lead with the Head, Heart, and Hands

The most important consideration in the workplace of the future is how to keep people, and the human touch, at the core of business. Organisations need to ensure that human decisions determine how the workplace will operate, rather than getting sucked into a world governed by algorithms. Technology is important - but people must come first, and people need to be able to control variables and thresholds, overrule any automated interventions, and most importantly, preside over ethical and moral quandaries based on human experiences and logical thinking.

Employees are looking to their leadership for empathy, assurance, and meaningful action, so leaders need to be fully engaged in what’s going on in real-time, and be seen and heard. 

There are three key human-centric, and interlocking pillars for leadership: “The Head, Heart and Hands”. These pillars must work well together - each supports the others in a cohesive organisation:

  1. The Head is about envisioning the future and focusing on the big rocks. What is the organisation’s strategy and vision?
  2. The Heart is about inspiring and empowering people. What is the organisation’s purpose, values and culture?
  3. The Hands is about executing and innovating with agility. What set of actions is needed to make that happen?

It goes without saying that many organisations have already experienced a big shift in how they work. As we move forward, this shift will continue. As the COVID-19 pandemic gives leaders the opportunity to deliberately reflect on, and if necessary, reset, their organisation’s pillars - the time to act is now. Leaders need to think about where the business has been strong, and where it has missed the mark. Which new practices might they want to keep, and which initiatives or capabilities do they want to continue, stop or start. Are decisions and actions aligning with the company’s purpose? Finally, and more importantly, they need to translate theory into actions - how can these pillars be communicated, (re)articulated, activated and embedded into the post-crisis organisation in order to fuel recovery - this will establish the path forward.

Those who make this transformation with consideration, keeping their people front and centre, will be best placed for future success.

For more information on business topics in the United States and Canada, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief North America.

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Jun 10, 2021

G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve

3 min
Business Chief delves into what the G7 is and represents and what its 2021 summit hopes to achieve

Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration. 


Who are the G7?

The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like. 

The merry band comprises:

  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • The United Kingdom
  • The United States

Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.


Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda. 


When was the ‘G’ formed?

Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s. 


Why does the G7 exist?

At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted. 


The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability. 


It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations. 


Where is the 2021 G7 summit?

This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall. 

What will be discussed this year? 

After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”


The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values. 


According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.” 


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