Posted: 15 Mar. 2021 5 min. read

Workforce transformation- places, people and purpose

COVID-19 has catapulted organisations into the ‘future of work’.  A reality which, in many cases, has not yet been designed and planned for. But this is an opportunity not to be missed. Indeed, cannot be missed if you are to compete for the best talent in the increasingly global and highly competitive marketplace.

The world of work, and by default, the workforce was in flux well before Covid-19.  However, recent events have accelerated these changes and fast tracked the future of work.

Findings from our Voice of the European Workforce survey concluded that:

  • COVID-19 has given workers more autonomy: not just from remote working but a radical shift to a more independent way of working. While this has very often been the case for those who have been obliged to work remotely (about 60 per cent), it is also true for one in five employees who continued working at their workplace
  • Human factors have been more important compared to technology: trust, time and the network of colleagues have made the difference. 40 per cent of respondents suggested that the trust leadership has put in them has been essential to them in coping with the change
  • Remote working is here to stay: with two in three employees expecting to be working remotely more often
  • Adaptability is a vital skill: organisations need to invest in developing this capability across their workforce
  • Workers are not a monolithic block: organisations need to design policies and interventions based on a deep understanding of workers' attributes and needs

We have seen this play out, not only within our clients, but also within Deloitte. We have put faith and trust in our people; they have adapted and proven successful in making an impact for their clients from home. However, people crave some face-to-face human contact and once lock down lifts and we are able to resume some level of normality we will likely see a combination of office and remote working, particularly where collaboration is essential.

Deloitte’s new Manchester office space in the historic Hanover building was chosen for this very reason – to enable connection, innovation and company culture to thrive. We are also giving access to collaboration spaces for colleagues to come together where we do not have local offices.   

Location is just one lens through which you should consider the workforce. There are a number of other factors, including:

  1. What work needs to be done and how could it be done: welcome Artificial Intelligence (AI).  This is less about the robots taking over, and more about creating value by enabling your people and machines to work together.  Some of our retail clients based in the region are piloting the use of AI within a number of functions including Finance.
  2. Diversity of workforce: This is not only race, gender and background, but also the models of your workforce.  Alongside a traditional full time workforce, consider the use of part-time, freelance, gig workers, as well as third party suppliers and ‘the crowd’.  Some organisations have transitioned some, or part, of their shared services operations to be managed through ‘the crowd’ which has proved to be extremely flexible and high quality.
  3. Embrace new capabilities to lead teams and innovation: Leaders need to shift away from a narrow vision of cost and efficiency to focus on growth, innovation, and meaning.  We know that ‘purpose’ (positive social impact) plays a key role when people are deciding who they choose to work for – it is critical in your race for top talent.
  4. Adaptability and resilience: Now more than ever, your organisation and your people must be prepared to adapt, reskill and upskill in light of both the known and unforeseen future challenges.  We saw the results of this through the pandemic.  Some less radical: restaurants pivoting to takeaway/delivery and the growth in online retailing.  To the more fundamental: with a camera company shifting from the development of chemicals for photography to pharmaceutical chemicals to help in the battle against Covid-19.

If you are interested to read more on this topic go to our Future of Work hub for more information.

In the upcoming blogs we’ll explore some of the other challenges facing those who want to transform their organisations.

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Carolyn Hicks

Carolyn Hicks


Carolyn leads transformational change programmes, mainly in the retail sector. As a born and bred Northerner, she cares passionately about creating fulfilling career opportunities for people in the region. She wants everyone to have great life chances and believe we all have a role to play in making that a reality. Carolyn works with clients going through transformational change; with a particular focus on the people aspects, and how the way in which we work is radically changing in our digital age. Carolyn joined Deloitte in 2010 after a decade working in the retail industry and has never looked back. When not working with established retailers and start-ups, she is nearly always with her husband and 8-year-old boy doing something football related!