The public sector and government entities, especially in the UAE, tend towards excellence and global pioneering through participation in various excellence programs and awards and participation in measuring global competitiveness indicators. It has also become competitive with the private sector in the quality, efficiency, and excellence of providing services comparable to the quality and efficiency required by the highest international standards. The goal is to reach the highest levels of customer happiness,
The public sector has gone a long way. Among the main directions it is treading are the following:
Future shaping. It is what is related to the possible and the preferred in the future, along with expectations and trends that have few possibilities but have significant impacts that can occur. There is a need to analyze the extent of their impact on government work, build future models, seize opportunities, and ensure strategic ability that will affect the operations and services of government entities as they work towards achieving customers’ and society’s happiness.
Government innovation in services and processes. When services are provided innovatively, it reduces the time of their provision and measures the added value from them. Innovation is the actual translation of creative ideas and transforming them into products, services, processes, and systems that interact with and serve society. It is necessary to measure the global innovation index, which measures the level of innovation at the level of different countries by studying a number of indicators that make up the overall index. It includes seven main criteria categories that represent innovation inputs and outputs at the state level: institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market development, business environment development, innovation outputs of knowledge and technology, and creative outputs.
Digital transformation. This refers to providing electronic and smart government services with a high degree of excellence, pioneering, comprehensiveness, and integration among government entities and interrelated and integrated systems to achieve the “one government” concept.
Metaverse and government use. This is a system that will provide many virtual spaces on the Internet and will also allow the integration of everyday life into virtual life. Metaverse will provide immersive and exciting experiences in various fields, such as education, health, tourism, travel, service provision, shopping, transportation, and others. This involves using advanced technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, 5G network, and other technologies. Such technology can make government administrative services efficient. For example, people can meet with virtual officials without visiting municipal offices or any government department.
Sustainability in the social, economic, and environmental fields. Programs, initiatives, and policies that support sustainability are implemented, such as applying and measuring performance indicators of the extent of the impact of operations on health, safety, and the environment. This should ensure minimizing negative impacts on society and the environment and contribute to the rationalization of energy, water, and other resources consumption.
The future of public services
Government services in the future will depend heavily on the provision of digital services that will be more efficient and will also rely on the standards and requirements of a single platform for customer data. An example is the digital identity (UAE PASS) adopted in the UAE. It is used as a primary and unified mechanism to obtain digital services for all categories of customers.
The future of government services as stated in the global star system for rating services, issued by the Prime Minister’s Office in the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the future in the United Arab Emirates, represented by the Emirates Program for Excellence in Government Service, as this integrated system is the first of its kind in the world. The Emirates Program for Excellence in Government Service was launched  in the United Arab Emirates, it sets a world-class standard that helps government and private entities measure, improve and transform the field of service delivery. This program aims to improve the quality of government and private services by focusing on customer-centric services, employee happiness, and operational efficiency to provide services at a seven-star level.
Strategic planning will play an important role in assessing the quality of government services. This happens through the awareness of senior leadership, in participating in strategic planning that focuses on developing services, linking it to strategic objectives, and supporting the government entities’ strategy to improve customer experience. In addition, these strategic goals related to services must be measured and monitored through efficient and effective performance indicators, such as: the percentage of services’ customer happiness, the average time taken to provide the service, and the average waiting time to obtain the service.
The most important characteristic of government entities is how they provide services quickly and efficiently. For this purpose, they must proactively adopt advanced technologies, such as chatbots, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things, to support the provision and management of services to continue improving customer experience and reaching the highest levels of happiness for them.
In this field, government entities should provide a central database for all customer data. It should be possible to securely access the central database for customers from all service delivery channels and to manage the security of this data. There should be special security measures to deal effectively with data breaches if they occur and training for employees on how to proactively reduce security breaches. In addition, government entities must evaluate their electronic and digital security and build a culture of enhancing the importance of data privacy and security, recognize the possibility of using the Secure Sockets Layer (TLS) protocol, and ensure secure access to service and electronic payment procedures through digital channels.
One of the best practices that we recommend in strategic planning for government entities is strategic planning based on the Balanced Scorecard developed by Norton and Kaplan: It is a framework for translating the organization’s vision into a set of performance indicators covering the following four perspectives: financial aspect, customers, internal process, learning, and growth. Through this system, the organization monitors its current performance (financial, customer satisfaction, and business results) as well as its efforts towards developing operations, motivating and educating employees, enhancing information systems, and honing their ability to learn and develop.
It is considered an administrative system that enables the organization to clarify its vision and strategic goals and translate them into reality. It is an auxiliary tool used to measure the performance of organizations in order to lead them to continuous development and improvement as it focuses on gaps in performance and alerts work teams and senior management.
The Norton and Kaplan methodology for managing and executing strategy consists of six main steps:
Preparing and developing the strategy: This includes benchmarking with best practices, formulating the vision, mission and values, conducting internal and external analysis, identifying the value gap and defining the vision, defining the change agenda, and formulating the strategy.
Translating the strategy: It refers to defining the strategic pillars and objectives, the indicators and targets, the strategic initiatives, the responsibilities, and the general framework for the process of translating the strategy.
Cascading and alignment of the strategy: This is about distributing objectives according to roles to the main and supportive organizational units, communicating the strategy for all employees, aligning the strategy with the individual performance of the employees, aligning with incentives, aligning the strategy with external parties and partners.
Developing the main processes and linking the strategy to the institution’s budget and operations to ensure implementation: This involves defining priorities for strategic operations, using processes and driving models to activate the strategy, creating an operations dashboard, integrating financial planning and resource capabilities, managing initiatives, integration with and planning for intangible properties.
Institutional review and learning by transforming the strategy into a continuous process and establishing a formal performance-based follow-up to the strategy: This is achieved by conducting strategy review meetings, and conducting operational processes review meetings).
Testing and adaptation: This means monitoring and evaluating the strategy and adapting to the strategy based on the results achieved. It includes testing cause-and-effect relationships using data analytics, testing the robustness and solidity of the strategy, and using business intelligence and big data).
Challenges and successes
Among the biggest and most important challenges that government entities face during the implementation and usage of a performance management system are:
The inability to obtain the information needed by government entities from the performance measurement process. The solution is to adopt performance indicators that are closely related to the strategic objectives. Measuring performance indicators that are not linked to the objectives is a waste of time.
Lack of results and data to help make decisions. The solution is to establish a reliable database to obtain the data based on which accurate performance is measured to help make sound decisions at the right time.
The inability to take effective measures to achieve goals. The solution lies in the use of analysis and improvement tools that lead to the root of the problem, based on which effective measures are taken to improve performance and achieve goals.
Not knowing what exactly is important to measure. The solution is to measure a few indicators that serve the purpose of achieving the goals.
Not knowing the purpose of the measurement and that the indicators are meaningless. The solution is to adopt the performance indicator card. From the outset, the purpose of its measurement are determined.
Employees refuse to be held accountable for performance. The solution is not to punish employees for bad performance. Motivate and honor outstanding performance and good results.
No improvement in performance. The solution is to measure performance indicators over long periods of time to follow up on the improvement in performance in a phased manner. Acknowledge the possibility of taking improvement measures before the end of the performance management cycle.
Indicators are imposed on employees and are not discussed with them. The solution lies in the participation of employees in setting performance indicators and defining the responsibility of each of them for the details of the indicator, such as collecting data, monitoring improvement, measuring the indicator, and developing improvement initiatives.
In terms of building performance- and data-driven culture in the public sector, it is necessary to develop a culture of reliance on shared and open data and to measure indicators of the extent of the participation of government departments.
For the success of any performance management system:
Performance must be monitored, evaluated, and adapted to the strategy based on the results achieved;
The testing of cause-and-effect relationships must use data analytics;
Artificial intelligence and big data must be employed.
To succeed as a leader in a government entity, he or she should have behavioral competencies, the set of knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary to achieve effective performance. These competencies play an important role in employee performance and work teams for the tasks assigned to them and often appear when employees interact with each other and with clients.
Behavioral competencies include core and leadership competencies. Successful leaders must have leadership spirit, futuristic, achievement, and influence. The leadership spirit refers to empowering employees and delegating powers, promoting accountability and responsibility, setting a role model, and opening up to the world. The efficiency of the future requires the leader to see the future, be an innovator and a catalyst for radical change, be familiar with advanced technology, and be a continuous and lifelong learner. Meanwhile, achievement and impact competence means being flexible and quick, making smart, effective, and efficient decisions, and being focused on the higher goals of the government and achieving results.
This article was written by Dr. Hisham Ahmad Kayali and was first published in the 24th printed edition of PERFORMANCE Magazine. You can get a free digital copy from the TKI Marketplace here or purchase a print copy from Amazon for a nominal fee here.
Image source: Gilaxia from Getty Image Signature | Canva
The COVID-19 pandemic has produced disrupted governments while altering levels of public trust and underscoring the importance of strong digital government foundations. On the positive side, this has created an opportunity for governments worldwide to revisit their strategic approaches to using digital tools and data to improve the delivery of public value.
Digital government in the post-pandemic age is recently understood as “the use of digital technologies as an integrated part of a government’s modernization strategies to create and deliver public value,” according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The article hereby intends to gaze upon some of the best practices in strategy execution as far as the enablement of a digital government in various countries around the globe from perspectives as important as a framework for strategy execution, initiative management, strategy implementation costs, and communication strategy for results strategy.
1. A Comprehensive National Government Data Strategy (the Netherlands)
Data Agenda Overheid is the Netherlands’ national government data strategy developed and led by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The strategy aims to accelerate the ethical use of data within central and local governments to foster better policy-making and resolve social challenges, paying specific attention to legislation and public values, data management, knowledge sharing, and investment in people, organizations, and cultural change. Below (see Table 1) are some of the main costs for action points in the Data Agenda Governments:
2. Communication Strategy on the Outcomes of the Digital Government Agenda (Colombia)
Part of becoming more proactive is having a well-equipped public sector capable of responding to citizens’ requests before they are submitted. For this process to function, the public sector must have in place referential strategies or policies to anticipate future scenarios, prepare for the next steps and guide civil servants in their actions.
For example, the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications of Colombia (MINTIC) has developed a communication strategy called Estrategia de Comunicaciones 2018 that functions as a policy lever to inform citizens about the outcomes of the digital government strategy and initiatives of the Colombian government.
The strategy consists of general and specific messages and communication channels targeted to the respective relevant audience. It specifies available tools and communication toolkits that public servants can draw on to communicate proactively with the public. The strategy also includes a detailed action plan with information on the topic, content, and channels to convey the government’s message.
The existence of a communication strategy enhances the anticipatory and organizational capacity of the Colombian government to engage with citizens and guide public servants to promptly communicate with the public once outcomes from the digital government strategy or initiatives emerge. Ultimately, this approach enhances public trust by fostering transparency regarding the result of projects and improving contact with citizens, thereby reinforcing the legitimacy of the government’s actions
3. Initiatives for a Secure Cloud Strategy Execution (Australia)
The Secure Cloud Strategy has been developed to guide Australians through the digital change brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and make sure everyone has the opportunity to make the most of what the cloud has to offer. The strategy is based on several key initiatives designed to prepare agencies for the shift to the cloud and support them through the transition:
Initiative 1: Independent cloud strategy for government agencies. Australian agencies are encouraged to develop their journeys to the cloud based on the following: value case, workforce plan, “best fit” cloud models, service readiness, and transition approach.
Initiative 2: Layered certification model. Sharing information and assessments through a Common Assessment Framework to help improve security practices while at the same time reducing the burden on agencies to recreate material.
Initiative 3: Redeveloped Cloud Services Panel to align with the procurement recommendations for a new procurement pathway that better supports cloud commodity purchases. Streamlining the current cloud strategy arrangements in alignment with the implementation of the ICT Procurement Review will create a commodity procurement pathway that will ensure the government can procure and access a wider range of innovative cloud services for use by the government.
Initiative 4: Dashboard to show service status for adoption, compliance status, and services panel status and pricing. The cloud dashboard capability seeks to provide enhanced transparency of cloud usage and compliance cross-government and support clearer guidance regarding the costs, service suitability, and government status in a cloud environment.
Initiative 5: Cloud service qualities baseline and assessment capability. A cloud qualities baseline capability and assessment framework were developed to enable assessments for the new and existing cloud. This framework includes a baseline and measurement criteria to assess the cloud service. Once complete, assessments are published to provide greater visibility of how services can meet requirements and enable the re-use of assessments across the government.
Initiative 6: Cloud responsibility model supported by a cloud contracts capability. The approach will include evolving ICT contracts to articulate the responsibilities across the different deployment and service models and strengthen these baseline contract provisions.
Initiative 7: Whole-of-government cloud knowledge exchange platform. Deliver a platform for agencies to better collaborate and reuse common capabilities for their cloud adoption and use. The development of the platform considers how users interact with the service, accessibility, governance, operations, and technology.
Initiative 8: Building a Digital Capability program to include cloud skills. A long-term approach to developing a cloud skills capability to ensure the value and opportunity of the cloud is harnessed.
4. Digital Government Roadmap, Strategic Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and Maturity Model to reflect on a High Commitment to Digital Transformation (United Arab Emirates)
The UAE is among the world’s leading countries in various digital life indexes, including The KPI Institute’s Government Services Index (GSI) 2022 due to the significant advancement of its information and communication technology sector.
The United Arab Emirates is the top performer in the Middle East as far as digital transformation, consistently moving towards a data-driven and paperless government. The Strategy for Government Services states that 100 percent of government services will be accessible from anywhere and 24/7 by 2030. The UAE Strategy for Government Services aims to boost its competitiveness in the services sector and position it as the best in the world in rendering government services.
As far as digital “content provision” is concerned, the UAE is ranked high on the availability of basic public information and resources online. The UAE Institutional Framework reveals a strong focus among other things, on digital government strategy, organizational structure, legislation on access to information and privacy, and open data policy.
The UAE Digital Strategy may be one of the most comprehensive in the world, built on a well-designed digital government roadmap with enablers, a results-measurement framework based on strategic KPIs, and an institutional maturity assessment model to guide successful digital transformation. The UAE Digital Government Roadmap comprises six main pillars encompassing 64 national digital enablers.
The Digital Strategy Measurement framework reveals four areas of measurement, such as public satisfaction and digital capabilities, and 10 strategic KPIs, which all exhibit 2025 targets for achievement of digital government transformation results (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Strategic KPIs | The UAE Digital Government Strategy 2025
The UAE Digital Government Maturity Model aims to assess the UAE government organizations on both federal and local levels against a framework that helps create clarity about the UAE digital government capabilities and to inform investments in new capabilities. The maturity model comprises eight main dimensions (See Figure 2). Each dimension has a set of sub-dimensions that guide enabling actions that each government entity might take to increase its maturity along each dimension. Each sub-dimension has a set of specific items to be used by each UAE government entity to determine their level of maturity for each sub-dimension and dimension.
Figure 2. The maturity model’s eight main dimensions | The UAE Digital Government Strategy 2025
The five levels of maturity range from Level 1 representing a very low level of maturity to level 5 representing a very high level of maturity (See Figure 3). The assessment responses provide an outline for a roadmap for a successful digital government transformation.
Figure 3. The five levels of maturity | The UAE Digital Government Strategy 2025
The objective is 100 percent a very high level of maturity for all UAE government entities on both federal and local levels by 2025.
This article was first published in the 24th printed edition of PERFORMANCE Magazine. You can get a free digital copy from the TKI Marketplace here or purchase a print copy from Amazon for a nominal fee here.
Marketing capabilities reflect how organizations enhance their ability to learn and leverage the market to respond to customer changes accurately and efficiently. Various stakeholder expectations have to be fulfilled, and the need to constantly be responsive to internal and external stimuli makes it even more difficult to direct organizations’ marketing efforts. Indeed, to adapt to changing conditions rapidly, tourist marketers are forced to be more agile and capable of reacting quickly and easily to market changes.
In 2018, in the study “Towards the Development of an Agile Marketing Capability,“ researchers Ludovica Moi, Francesca Cabiddu, and Moreno Frau defined agile marketing as a new marketing management approach based on practical learning and aimed at breaking the rigidity of traditional marketing. In particular, marketing encourages teams to work together on a common goal centered on customer needs and regularly checks for weak or unnecessary steps to adjust and optimize operations accordingly. Hence, agile marketing drives greater customer interaction and value, greater speed to market demand, and greater ability to adapt to changes as they occur, based on the paper “From fragile to agile: marketing as a key driver of entrepreneurial internationalization” conducted by Birgit Hagen, Antonella Zucchella, and Pervez Nasim Ghauri in the same year.
This article will discuss agility and marketing capabilities by providing the recently conceptualized Agile Marketing Capability (AMC) framework. The discussion describes how firms may differ in the development and management of AMC through the identification of different maturity levels where maturity refers to the state of being ready. It explains how tourism marketing managers and practitioners could become more agile in their marketing capabilities, providing a useful tool to assess a firm’s current state of each capability maturity and to quickly grasp potential initiatives for improvement and enabling adaptation to a dynamic fast-changing environment especially in the context of MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) tourism, which comprises a large network of hospitality-related services such as accommodations, catering services, and transportation.
MICE represents a highly dynamic sector involved in a continuous exchange and allocation of resources and relationships for planning events to address and satisfy a variety of requests and needs where marketing efforts should be designed according to the variety of attendees so that their objectives and requirements are properly met.
The Emergence of the AMC Framework
According to the study “Investigating firm’s customer agility and firm performance: The importance of aligning sense and response capabilities” conducted in 2012, Nicholas Roberts and Varun Grover defined agility in the marketing field as the extent to which the company can predict and rapidly adapt to customer-based opportunities for innovation and improvement action. Therefore, marketing agility refers to being responsive to constantly changing customers’ expectations and needs and becoming flexible in designing objectives and allocating resources accordingly.
Based on “International marketing agility: conceptualization and research agenda” led by Emanuel Gomes in 2019, marketing agility is the firm’s ability to reconfigure its marketing efforts at short notice, adapt to changing market conditions quickly, and fulfill market needs more effectively.
Despite the growing importance of agility in the marketing field, the mainstream strategy could not address agility properly in the context of corporate marketing capabilities. Early studies analyzed marketing capabilities from the resource-based view (RBV) perspective, assuming a static and internally driven approach. Over time, the 2011research “Closing the Marketing Capabilities Gap” conducted by George Day began to be questioned because of its inability to adapt to a fast-changing business context.
Therefore, a new approach has emerged to aid in the development of new marketing capabilities to be able to grasp the firm’s capacity to sense the market and to look for different ways to reconfigure available resources accordingly. This led to the conceptualization of a different set of marketing capabilities oriented to more open and adaptive paths to fast-changing contexts. AMC Framework contributes by embedding agility that is better suited to align with the urgent need for the tourism industry to transform its business in a time of environmental turbulence.
Applying the AMC Framework
Held in 2019, the research study led by Emanuel Gomes alongside Carlos M.P. Sousa and Ferran Vendrell-Herrero defined AMC as the firm’s marketing capability to (1) constantly sense and respond to changes related to customer needs and requests; (2) follow an adaptive and flexible approach in dealing with changes; (3) create close work relationships among people and a collaborative working environment; and (4) continuously and quickly adjust and deliver new marketing plans (see Table 1).Those capabilities can be assessed through four maturity levels (see Table 2).
The AMC framework offers practical guidance on what strategic actions are needed for the implementation, development, and enhancement of agile marketing capabilities. Therefore, AMC could be used as a tool to assess the current state of maturity level in the development of the capabilities and to understand how to move through each maturity level, accurately implement improvement actions, and enable high-performance marketing.
Moreover, the framework can also support marketing managers in benchmarking and evaluating best practices across the tourism industry, improving marketing performance and being more adaptive to the changes in the market.
Tourism managers can use the AMC checklist for auditing how well their organization is implementing marketing agility and creating an action plan to achieve a higher level of maturity. Tourism firms can have a practical guideline to boost marketing capabilities by referring to the agile marketing capability maturity framework.
Accelerating a digital economy is no longer just an option but a must. The United Nations reported that digital technologies have reached 50% of the developing world’s population and helped transform societies. Meanwhile, the paper “The Role of the Digital Economy in Rebuilding and Maintaining Social Governance Mechanisms” suggests that digitization improves society at all levels, from the automation of businesses to new opportunities to human behavior and social relationships, especially interactions between governments and citizens.
Malaysia is not an exception. The COVID-19 pandemic forced traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to pivot online, and millions of Malaysians followed. This is evident in their shopping, entertainment, and education needs.
The digital economy has been identified as a key economic growth area (KEGA) in realizing the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, a blueprint released in 2020 by the government. It reflects the aspiration of making Malaysia a country that develops sustainably while achieving equitable economic distribution and inclusive growth. According to the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, Malaysia should have clear policies and raise awareness on enabling citizens to adapt to the future economy instead of leaving them as mere consumers. Hence, MyDIGITAL was launched.
MyDIGITAL is a national initiative that epitomizes the government’s aspirations to successfully transform Malaysia into a digitally-driven, high-income nation and a regional leader in the digital economy. MyDIGITAL’s three goals are to inspire decision-makers to become creators, users, and adopters of innovative business models; use human capital to flourish in the digital economy; and cultivate a consolidated ecosystem that empowers society to embrace the digital economy. To meet these objectives, six strategic thrusts have been identified:
Drive digital transformation in the public sector.This can be accomplished by leveraging digital technologies, data, and digital intelligence, improving public servants’ digital skill sets, and enhancing the quality of online services. By the end of the year, the goal is for all ministries and agencies to provide cashless payment options and 80 percent cloud storage across the government. In the short term, transforming the Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) will fuel digitalization and adapt to emerging digital technologies.
Boost economic competitivenessby accelerating digital adoption, empowering digital management, and shaping emerging business models through digitalization. Businesses that embrace technology and build on the digital economy will generate value and thrive as the economy transforms. The goal is to have Malaysian industries be powered by innovative ideas and models. With economic growth led by local entrepreneurs, the focus will be on productivity and improving livelihoods. This will bring in new industry players, resulting in a more vibrant and innovative economy.
Establish enabling digital infrastructure to help individuals participate in the digital economy. Through a conducive digital environment provided by seamless and extensive digital connectivity, the government and businesses will be able to operate with ease and continuously innovate. Malaysia has made significant progress in improving the state and coverage of such key infrastructure. Broadband, data centers, and submarine cable landing stations are among the digital infrastructures targeted by this thrust. These infrastructures enable data generation, flow, exchange, consumption, and storage.
Build agile and competent digital talentto ensure that digitalization is successfully embedded across talent development, various levels of education, and the upskilling and reskilling of the existing workforce. The key challenge for Malaysians as job requirements change and new jobs surface is to acquire the necessary skills to remain relevant. To thrive in the evolving digital economy, current and future workforces should be well-equipped with digital skills.
Create an inclusive digital society to bridge the digital divide and ensure that everyone benefits from the digital economy. There are numerous government initiatives and programs in place to improve the well-being of society. However, a digital divide persists across income, strata, age, gender, and skill sets. To create a digitally responsible society, ethical behavior in the use of digital technology will be prioritized. This will be expressed through the improvement of safety and ethics in digital activities and transactions and through cybersecurity. For instance, companies can leverage existing initiatives, such as the Information Security Governance, Risk & Compliance Health Check Assessment.
Establish a trusted, secure, and ethical digital environment that allows businesses and society to fully reap the benefits of digital services without jeopardizing safety, data security, privacy, dependability, or ethical standards. The development of a holistic ecosystem is required, and this may involve a regulatory framework and cyber security capabilities to prevent threats or breaches that can disrupt the digital economy.
Twenty-two strategies, 48 national initiatives, and 28 sectoral initiatives support these strategic thrusts. Phase 1 began in 2021 and will last until 2022, when the foundation for digital adoption will be strengthened. In Phase 2 (2023-2025), inclusive digital transformation will be prioritized, and Phase 3 (from 2026 to 2030) will position Malaysia as a regional leader in digital content and cyber security.
MyDIGITAL’s mission is to ensure that all Malaysians benefit from the opportunities of the digital revolution. To realize this, active participation from strong partnerships and between all stakeholders are necessary. With MyDIGITAL’s implementation, the rakyat’s standard of living and well-being are expected to improve, businesses will be able to optimize resources and expand their operations and market, and the government will be able to provide more efficient and effective services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forever altered how organizations around the world operate. In the IBM Institute for Business Value’s study “COVID-19 and the future of business Executive epiphanies reveal post-pandemic opportunities,” 55 percent of respondents say the pandemic has resulted in “permanent changes to their organizational strategy.” An even larger 60 percent say COVID-19 has “adjusted their approach to change management” and “accelerated process automation,” with 64 percent acknowledging a shift to more cloud-based business activities.
In planning, one of the most important aspects organizations nowadays must tackle is workplace strategy. According to Gallup’s most recent survey on what employees want going forward, five in 10 say they want hybrid work arrangements for the future. For organizations worldwide, this means planning and managing moves to hybrid work environments.
What is a hybrid work strategy?
Hybrid working environments are the out-turn of the COVID-19 pandemic and refer to corporate arrangements by which some employees operate on-site while others work from home. The manifestation of more flexible working conditions in times of the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted employee expectations and desires greatly as far as the perceived benefits of in-person work. Consequently, organizations who do not embrace remote working conditions as part of their overall short-term and long-term workplace strategy may be at an increased risk of employee turnover, disengagement, and inability to attract and retain talent in the future.
Crafting the hybrid work strategy
One of the main aspects organizations must understand about hybrids is that there is no standard approach to it. Short-term planning will most likely imply experimenting with working schedules and juggling on-site and remote working arrangements to find the best fit for the organization. As for long-term planning, organizations will have to agree on their strategic position regarding a hybrid working model and relate it to their specific organizational context. A strategy plan that embraces the future outlook of a hybrid working environment should therefore consider the following:
The overall strategic position of the organization towards hybrid working as well as the development of internal policies and procedures to support that position;
A communication plan to share the organization’s hybrid working model with all employees and other stakeholders of the organization;
An approach to the adoption and dissemination of new technology as well as reviewing existing systems and equipment for updates and renewal;
A plan to put in place the necessary security measures that ensure system integrity and data protection;
A training and development plan for managers to enhance their skills in effectively coordinating remote individuals and teams; for employees to understand the operational and legal implications of hybrid working
Performance management as part of the hybrid work strategy
As part of a hybrid work strategy, organizations generally have to adapt to increased remote working requirements. In this context, performance may become harder to observe, and managers will ultimately have to admit that they can no longer monitor every aspect of performance, nor should it be necessary for them to do so. Planning for a hybrid strategy would therefore have to consider the following:
The re-configuration and re-design of the performance management system and processes to fit the purpose of a remote working environment;
A shared organizational culture that embraces flexibility encourages presenteeism and stimulates the right remote working approaches and behaviors;
The re-shaping of managerial skill and aptitude to manage performance based on outcomes, contribution, and value;
Principles of communication that promote regular social and human connection opportunities to support employee engagement and team building
Measures introduced to ensure staff safety in the workplace
In terms of physical working place, many organizations may feel the need to proceed in a cautious wait-and-see mode while taking active steps to increase the safety of their working environments and ensure the well-being of their employees. Some straightforward actions in this respect can refer to the following:
Altering working space layouts by moving workstations apart and having employees work back-to-back or side-to-side (rather than face-to-face);
Staggering shifts – having employees start and finish work at different times – or staggering break times as a way of reducing the number of people in the workplace or taking breaks at any one time;
Reducing the number of meetings or the duration of such meetings as a temporary measure to maintain social distancing
Short-term vs. long-term hybrid strategy
The last question one has to answer here is: “Does our organization plan for a short-term hybrid strategy or a long-term one?”. When planning a hybrid strategy short-term, an organization must absolutely think “workplace value proposition.” This involves the benefits employees have for returning to on-site work. It’s quite clear that pointing to job requirements as the primary reason employees must return to the office will not work. In this context, organizations may need to focus on the distinct opportunities that an on-site environment creates as opposed to a remote one and find the best way to effectively communicate them.
When planning for a hybrid strategy long-term, executives have already accepted that pandemic-related changes in strategy, management, operations, and budgetary priorities are here to stay. These are generally organizations with an international structure with employees working from different parts of the world, companies that operate through digital tech and cloud adoptions, and entities that are more project-based and service oriented, rather than product-based with intricate supply-chain networks.
So when adopting a hybrid working model and strategy, it is mainly important that one considers the organization itself, the roles that meet remote work criteria, the interdependency level of team members, and individual comfort with work from home conditions and protocols.