Gearing up for the new term: The workplace of the future and the employee of today

How businesses can ensure that they have the right skills in place for the school year ahead.

For many kids, the summer and the school holidays are a time to spread one’s wings, travel to new places or just relax and recharge. But, as the new school term gets underway, the mind refocuses to the challenges ahead. After what has been a quiet summer for many, businesses need to apply the same ethos to their workforce, ensuring that they too have the right skills in place for the school year ahead.

A new syllabus is on the agenda for this year, with emerging technologies like AI, automation and IoT constantly challenging traditional operating models. Equally, cybersecurity has become an increasing concern for many and the skills needed to combat that threat will be central to success. Businesses must ensure that they have the right skills to respond to both the challenges and opportunities that the rise of new technologies presents. As organisations gear up for the inevitable craziness of the winter period, they must ensure that their workforce has been upskilled.

The workplace of the future

The key word here is workplace rather than office. The point is that technology has enabled more flexible working practices to flourish. Whether that’s allowing people to work at home, on the move, or more collaboratively within the office; it is a stark move away from the static desk cubicles of old. As technology continues to play a deeper role in everyone’s day to day working lives, it is no longer just the realm of the IT department, it is integral to every employee. Businesses need to ensure that they are upskilling their employees across every department to operate effectively in this technology-driven environment.

A prime example of the impact of this advancement of technology, is automation. CTOs and senior IT decision makers are realising huge efficiency savings across their businesses with the introduction of software and platforms that can automate labour-intensive processes, like data entry in HR, finance or sales for example. However, as these efficiencies come into place, it is vital for employees to continually upskill in new ways so that they can add higher value work in their role. For example, with time freed up from manual data entry, HR professionals could train up in a level of data analytics to uncover actionable business intelligence from the organisation’s information on its staff.

Skills for the many, not the few

As part of this workplace transformation there are skills that will be bespoke to different roles or departments, like the HR example just mentioned, but there are also some areas of technology that businesses need to upskill every employee on.

It’s no secret that cybersecurity has dominated the national news headlines of late – with universities the latest to feel the heat. Just as with these learned institutions, the biggest weakness for any organisation is its staff. With this in mind it is staggering to think that 70% of businesses have no staff training on cyber-attacks. Businesses must ensure that every employee has the skills and can be accountable for their share of the company’s exposure to cybercrime. Cyber-security has to be a first consideration with every project, not just from the IT department, and teams must work collaboratively together to ensure that they remain compliant and secure.

Technology is and will continue to transform the workplace – wherever and whatever that workplace may be. So much so that it has spread far beyond the realm of the IT department. As businesses emerge from what for many has been the quieter summer period, it’s time to make sure that they are ready for the term ahead. Engage your staff in the skills that they need to do their jobs better and empower them to better harness the digital revolution.


Milko Van Duijl is SVP Sales & General Manager for CA UKI and South Africa.…

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