Baptista Sarah Gebu’s thoughts … The future of work and some ‘new normal’ to expect


As work continue to evolve, trends will originate and go. The future of work which was thought to be very far is fast approaching and now the future of work is here today. The future of work appears to leave us with more questions than answers, but because it’s inevitable to ignore the concept of the future of work, most organizations have already embraced these developments, while others are lagging far behind due to being unable to forestall the future, lack of understanding, or lack of knowledge.

Knowing your way around trends is very important for business survival and sustainability. Change takes time, yes we all know that and every organization is different. Of course, this present challenges, but many organizations also see it as a wonderful opportunity to create positive change and to start to build purpose-driven organizations that priorities people and planet alongside profit (PPP). In anticipation to avoid a lack of knowledge similar to this, nations will become inward-looking, human physical interactions will reduce as jobs will be moved online.

There are very different and contrasting industries globally, but I’ve generally found that whatever the nature of a business or organization, they are rarely immune to change. And change is happening very fast. The actual significant to adjusting to and benefiting from these future of work trends is not embracing every single one, but rather making an educated and conscious decision about which path to follow as an industry. We are still in unusual times and many things are now been addressed and considered as the “new normal”.

Hitherto, it was considered an absurdity to work from home in some countries and industries another was to greet without a firm hand shake in Ghana and many other parts of the world. Today, the new normal is to greet the corona way, including the use of mask and the global acceptance to working from home. This coronavirus pandemic has in a way offered the world economies a dress rehearsal of what quick adjustments the future of work present to the world.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), today 1.6 out of 2 billion people working in the informal economy are impacted by the covid-19 crisis. That’s nearly half of the global workforce in immediate danger of losing their livelihoods. Lockdown actions have had an even more weighty influence on informal economy workers.

For most of these informal workers, staying home and not working means losing their income and not able to feed their families and dependents. As governments make plans to rolling out stimulus packages, it’s very important for decision makers to consider that for most informal workers they face this dilemma globally, do we die from the virus causing this coronavirus pandemic or do we die from hunger?.  Especially for countries finding themselves within the poorer bracket, hunger could be more deadly.

Informal workers already have limited access to protective equipment and medical care if they fall sick – covid-19 just made that bad situation, worse. Globally, 8 out of 10 enterprises in the world are informal but covid-19 will force many to close plunging move into poverty. As the same time, workers who lose their jobs in the formal economy because of lockdowns may have to turn to informal jobs just to stay alive. The Covid-19 crisis highlights the critical need to ensure a transition from the informal to the formal economy. The truth is that, this virus anticipated earlier living on for 2 years on average may not be the case anymore.

As I mentioned in last week’s feature we need to embrace ourselves: coronavirus could be around for longer than we thought as put forward by experts. The virus could ebb and flow with the season but may not disappear; becoming another illness in the sea of seasonal flus and colds. That being the case, this dress rehearsal of what quick adjustments the future of work present to the world through this pandemic must be observed.

We must eat well with the aim to building greater immunity. Cases, hospitalization and fatalities are globally falling; though its taking some time, we are surely getting there. This too shall pass. Recent update on the pandemic put forward by Professor Karol Sikora, an oncologist and chief medical officer at Rutherford Health suggests that the coronavirus could “burn out naturally” so a vaccine is no longer needed.

The former World Health Organisation director claimed it is likely we have immunity than previously thought and Covid-19 could end up “petering out by itself”. “There is a real chance that the virus will burn out naturally before any vaccine is developed,” he wrote on his social media profile. “We are seeing a roughly similar pattern everywhere – I suspect we have more immunity than estimated”. We need to keep slowing the virus, but it could be petering out by itself”.

The future of work will also introduce some new normal including;

            1. Working from home and not in offices.
            2. Need for ‘Hybrid leaders’ in high demand.
            3. Working with an organization with purpose
            4. Management of the ‘always on’ culture caused by technology
            5. The concept of a job for life won’t exist.
            6. Greater immunity for the human systems
            7. Effective systems and structure
            8. Expectation of lifelong growth

      Working from home and not from offices: Twitter as an organization announced last week, most employees can opt to work from home for good. I soliloquize to myself, what will happen to most office spaces and office rental business going forward should this new normal stay for long? It makes economic sense to as an employer buy laptops and or mobile phones for employees to work at home, saving you that cost for rental of an office space.

The debate is ongoing globally as to whether, the work of some supervisors and managers are relevant and needed going forward. When a staff can work from home and supervision is easily achieved as focus for most companies now will be on productivity and actual targets achieved and not necessarily on time spend behind a PC by an employee present at work. The challenge lies with industrial organization where processes ought to be followed and work cannot be done individually home by employees to achieve synergy.  No One General solution to Solving all problem for all industries could be available. Be Agile.

‘Hybrid leaders’ will be in demand: Hybrid leaders are leaders who can work collaboratively across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors and use business solutions to tackle the world’s social and environmental problems. According to the B-Team report, the Unite team includes former consultants, lawyers, accountants, public servants and entrepreneurs, all of whom add diverse and innovative ideas and approaches to the mix.

This article may offer some perspective for your consideration in constituting your team post covid-19 and beyond. Remember change is the only constant. Are you a professional and wish to register freely to join the first of its kind global innovation to be a FoReal Hybrid Professional. We know no boundaries? Please send us an e-mail and check our social media pages for more information.

People will want to work with an organization that has purpose: As Tim Brown (CEO and President of IDEO) observes, only organizations with a “reason for being” will be sustainable and successful in the future and attract the next generation of talent. This is because the new generation of people coming into the workforce wants to work for businesses that are innovative, creative, fun and that are inspiring change.

We will have to help manage the ‘always on’ culture caused by technology: it’s interesting to note that most organizations, amongst other things, offer unlimited leave as others are now getting started, to support personal development goals. That is not all; most have also put this in place as well to help support employees to sustain their own health and wellness. How are we today as a country supporting to sustain our own health and wellness holistically? Let’s just consider one aspect of leave. Maternity leave duration offers direct benefit to the family, the organization and subsequently the nation.

Currently the Ghana Labour Act 200, Act 651 article 57 clauses number one to nine spells out the maternity leave provisions in the law and offers at least three months (twelve weeks) maternity leave for Ghanaian employees with full pay in addition to the person’s annual leave. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2003) has recommended among other things that mothers exclusively breastfeed their new born babies up until six months on breast milk only; a recommendation which can be attained with greater support from government, employers and family. This policy directive can only be effective in Ghana when a policy change is considered to reflect this change.

Interestingly enough, although the country’s statutory laws propose three months maternity leave, in contrast, the World Health Organisation and medical experts call for six months exclusive breastfeeding for the new born to enhance good health and prevent future health related diseases. Conversely, how do we juxtapose Ghana’s legislative provision of three months leave duration to the proposed and globally accepted six months exclusive breast feeding?  It appears we envisage a future where we applaud policy makers for building bigger hospitals and not wholistic centers to support us nurture and promote healthy living.

The fact remains that once these health facilities are built, the facilities need to work. These facilities will need sick Ghanaians to patronize their services. These sick Ghanaian may include our families, co-workers and friends. Think about it. When your fundamentals in line with this are weak, covid-19 will expose your weak immune system and the consequences are clear.

The concept of a job for life won’t exist: Changing workforce expectations, the ability to use technology to perform more project or portfolio work and skills shortages in many industries have all transformed the jobs market and the way people approach their careers. This has all brought greater expectations of the ability to move between projects, organisations and roles and a radical shift in the traditional models of attracting and retaining talent.

Therefore, the concept of a job for life won’t exist.  This new normal will make it possible for people from all generations including professionals within the generations X, Y, Z, and millennial category from all walks of life to succeed. You know why?, everyone want to work in an organization with values that supports his or her wellbeing and development. This new normal will promote effective self-management, greater empowered hybrid professionals, greater teamwork, agile processes and emotional intelligence.

This will evolve the concept of “holacracy”, the “gig economy’ and the “teal organization”.

    • Holacracy is where power will be equally distributed throughout the organization and not be distributed from top to bottom.
    • The gig economy will promote a situation where short term contracts and freelancing other than permanent contracts will exist. Employees will have greater freedom to pick and choose work.
    • A Teal organization is the proposed next level which will evolve around three specific values: self-management, wholeness and evolutionary purpose. In practice, this means hierarchies are removed and people are empowered to be their true selves, while working together towards a goal without competition. This was based on the work of Professor Clare W. Graves.

Effective systems and Structures: Effective systems and structure will be needed in managing teal organization, promoting holacracy and the gig economy to be the new normal. As most organizations prepare to fully embrace the concept of working from home for a longer period or for good, it is imperative that organisations with effective systems and structures in place will win as virtual working relationship can be effectively managed by these laid down systems and structures. We need not just systems and structure in place to help navigate our way into this unprecedented future of work but an effective one for that matter.

People will expect lifelong growth: Employers and employees must learn to skill, reskill and upskill. People will constantly be curious, and keen to learning and developing their skills and knowledge. Technology has made learning available at the click of a button and that means we need to continue to develop new approaches to developing our people so that they can stay relevant and feel that they are growing.

What do we mean when we call for employers and employees to learn to upskill and reskill? To upskill is to provide training that enhances an employee’s existing skill set, allowing them to grow in their current role and bring added value to an organisation. To reskill is essentially to retrain an employee for a new position. The difference between reskilling and upskilling is this; when we reskill we learn new skills so you can do a different job, or to be able to train people to do a different job. Whereas to upskill, we focus more on improving worker’s skills so they can work within the same job. There are benefits to derive from skilling, reskilling and upskilling.

When workers are happier with their company and believe in what they are working toward, they do better work. Hence, upskilling keeps your workforce up to date on industry trends, allowing them to offer the best recommendations and insights to clients and prospects. So it increases customer satisfaction.  Though upskilling programs can cost money, they also provide strong return on investment (ROI). For one thing, it’s often easier and cheaper to address skills gaps in your company by training your current employees, rather than going out and hiring new ones. However, other schools of thought support the former over the latter as offering more returns in the event the said employees are not a good fit.

To reskill on the other hand considers this; reskilling is the process of learning or training someone on new skills that will help them do a different job. To close the skills gap, businesses need to start thinking about how to reskill their employees for the future.

Most organizations fail at reskilling due to several reasons. Here are some tactics businesses can use to upskill their teams post covid-19:

  • Attach employees with a mentor. …
  • Encourage employee self-training. …
  • Use real-life models and case studies. …
  • Build a learning culture.

Well trained employees show both quantity and quality performance through increased productivity. Trainings aside improving the bottom line which is profit, offers summary support in two folds to both employer and the employee. To the employees; it Improves morale of employees and helps provides job security and job satisfaction. Training helps employees improves their efficiency leading to improved productivity.

In Ghana, the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) which regulates the employer –employee relationship mandates that employers develop their human resources through training and retraining. At FoReal HR Services, aside providing labour recruitment and supporting your selection needs, we offer customized training programs to addressing workplace concerns. For all your training and development needs, please reach out to FoReal HR Services. We can get social together on all our social media sites: LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook, Instagram: FoReal HR Services. Look no further for your relocation support needs to include; expatriate support services, city orientation, school search, settling in, tenancy management, immigration compliance and preview visits and home search needs.

>>>the writer is the C. E. O of FoReal HR Services and manages its social enterprise ProHumane Afrique International. She is a human resource professional with a broad generalist background and a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). Building a team of efficient & effective workforce is her business. Affecting lives is her calling!. You can reach her via e-mail on [email protected]  or follow on our social media pages Linked-In / Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram: FoReal HR Services. Please Call or WhatsApp for all your Recruitment, Training and Development as well as for your Relocation Support Services needs: +233(0)262213313. Follow the conversation with the hashtag #theFutureofWorkCapsules #FoWC

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