Australian Enterprises Embrace Workplace Innovation as COVID Disrupts Job Markets and Employee Expectations

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A recent report from technology research and advisory firm Information Services Group (ISG) noted that a mix of workforce reductions, demands for hybrid work options and a retreat from cities is leading Australian companies to focus on employee experience.

According to the report, entitled ‘2021 ISG Provider Lens Future of Work – Services and Solutions’, many Australian companies plan to continue using hybrid work models after vastly expanding remote work during COVID. The report for Australia found that companies want to bring in-person interactive activities such as negotiations, staff training, coaching, brainstorming and collaboration back into the office, while allowing employees to do computer-based work at home. The changes in policy reflect a broader rethinking of how Australian enterprises operate and establish their company cultures.

“The employee experience will play a central role in the Australian workforce of the future,” said Lisa Borden, head of ISG Australia-New Zealand. “Employers will seek to attract and retain talent by offering mass personalization and the freedom to work anywhere, at any time, with seamless security.”

The report noted that a growing number of Australian employees are demanding a work-from-home option as a condition of employment and even leaving their current jobs for the freedom of a hybrid work model. Coming just as immigration sharply declined due to COVID, this trend contributed to major skills-shortages in many areas, especially technology fields such as cybersecurity. Meanwhile, the completion of the NBN has allowed more workers to leave cities for rural areas, increasing the pressure on companies to introduce remote-work options.

The pandemic drove many of the nation’s companies to accelerate workplace innovation. Work-from-home requirements heightened the unique challenges of employee engagement in Australia, where workforces are highly diverse and multicultural, relatively well-educated and dispersed over wide areas. Traditional in-office methods of achieving engagement, involving face-to-face events and celebrations, were no longer possible. Under the new conditions of the pandemic, video-conferencing collaboration has effectively replaced many of these approaches and brought together even more inclusive teams.

Digital workplace transformation services will be essential as both the pandemic and technological innovation impact the Australian job market. While the COVID crisis dramatically reduced in-person customer-service employment, innovations such as lean manufacturing and centralisation of business processes have begun to affect other fields, including computer-based office work. Business and government leaders will need to carry out strategic workforce assessments as part of these transformations.