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What’s the future? A North of England lens on Future of Work

With so much happening around us, it is sometimes easy to get lost in all the chaos. This is our attempt at pausing and reflecting on the Future of Work

Over the past year and a half, many of our conversations with colleagues have been around the Future of Work. How, where and when we work has become the topic of small talk, alongside local weather, and the dissection of last night’s TV. If we rewind eighteen months, it would have been unthinkable that such a profound change in work would take place. As the dust settles and we look forward, we realise that the Future of Work is within our hands to shape.

As a Manchester-based Consulting team, we have discussed what the ‘Future of Work’ really means to our clients based in the North of England, to our own organisation as Deloitte, and to us personally. The more we spoke to private businesses, charities and public sector organisations we understood that there was excitement and passion around the Future of Work, but little consensus on exactly how to seize the opportunity the next six-to-twelve months might bring. Most importantly, the question often asked, that we’ll now look to answer is: What does the Future of Work really mean, and why should it matter to people and organisations in the North of England, particularly in the Greater Manchester area?

Let’s go back to basics; the best way to help solve most complex problems is by breaking it down and simplifying it, so here is our attempt at just that:

Firstly, the Future of Work is not just about flexible working or providing remote working options. It’s not just about implementing the latest technologies and digitalising the organisation to automate processes. It’s also not about introducing the workforce to new learning paths or putting new content on your Learning Management System.

At the core, the Future of Work is about three things:

  1. The work which gets done
  2. The workforce who carry out that work
  3. The workplace where that work takes place

Throughout the pandemic, we have spoken to business leaders and executives about reimagining how work gets done, thinking about how to organise and structure teams to better collaborate and innovate to become nimble as an organisation.

We’ve discussed the opportunities to automate work, to augment the workforce and enable employees to focus on value-adding activities. We’ve talked about how organisations need to better understand their employees and to invest in skills, experiences, and workplaces their employees demand.

In summary, the Future of Work is about re-thinking the overall workforce strategy aligned to your organisation’s ambition and curating a human experience underpinned by the right technology.

But what does this mean for businesses in Greater Manchester?

With more than 2.8m residents and a further 7m people living within an hour’s commute, a prosperous and thriving North of England requires a successful Greater Manchester. Prior to the pandemic we saw a significant rise in business start-ups, major private sector investments and growth in employment in the Greater Manchester area.

However, as with all economies, a lot of that progress slowed down during the pandemic. As we gradually learn to live with COVID-19, businesses in the North need to really think about what the Future of Work means for them. How can they support levelling up as the economy grows, and how can they make better use of the human value their workforce brings?

Here are five questions we want to leave you with to inspire your thinking around the topic:

  1. How is the nature of work in your organisation changing? What are the most valuable activities for your workforce to be focused on, and what work needs to stop?
  2. Who can perform the work as it changes, and how as an organisation can you close skills gaps by tapping into alternative talent pools such as the gig economy or contractors whilst upskilling your existing workforce?
  3. Where does the work need to take place and how we can maximise collaboration, productivity, and consistency with physical design and technologies?
  4. What role will technology play, so it works alongside humans to help them deliver their best?
  5. What partnerships and alliances will be crucial to help you achieve your ambition as an organisation?

If you have questions on this topic or want to talk about how to address the Future of Work in the North of England, please reach out to us.

Meet the authors

Ishita Gupta

Manager

Ishita leads work in the business transformation space helping clients across industry to reimagine and transform how they operate, organise and evolve the way they work in a changing, digital and consumer-centric environment. She is passionate about human focused aspects of business transformation and strongly believes that companies need to actively mobilise the human elements to drive lasting change and to truly achieve their transformation ambition. Ishita joined Deloitte in 2012 and has since had the opportunity to work with four different Deloitte member firms across the globe. When not on her laptop, you can find Ishita exploring the sights and sounds of her newly adopted country.

Joe Wild

Manager

Joe loves the ‘People’ side of big business transformations, helping people thrive with new technology and new ways of working. Part of the Consulting team in the North of England, Joe specialises in change management, mainly focused on technology led transformations. Passionate about the Retail industry, Joe has worked with a number of Global retail giants, across luxury fashion, off-price fashion and homeware brands. Outside the office Joe is keen cyclist and novice triathlete.

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