• René Koets, Partner |

Accompanying the change is a crucial factor in changing the new ways of working due to the pandemic and digitalization trends. Soft factors of transformation projects are the hardest to tackle but also the most important. This article aims at creating awareness of soft factors and shows important aspects that need to be taken into consideration.

People matter more than ever. Especially in the last year, we have all been confronted with big changes to our way of living and working. The pandemic was and still is a great accelerator for digitalization and overall New Work approaches. This has triggered different challenges for businesses, starting from dynamic HR trends all the way to tax implications. Although the New Work idea and values have existed since 1984 (by Frithjof Bergmann), they are more relevant than ever. Freedom, autonomy, self-determination, meaning and participation in a community are the central aspects. But what does that mean for us today? A big shift in mindset for both individuals and organizations – the essence of an incremental transformation process.

How to successfully transition to new working models

When it comes to implementing transformation projects in general, it is crucial that the transition itself is accompanied carefully to make sure that the organization, people and operations are ready for the change. Mostly, change is triggered by technology and organizational aspects, but especially human capital, e.g. a human-centric approach is crucial to consider. Because which transformation process can succeed if it is not lived by the employees in the company?

Looking at New Work, one driver for change is the shift from working on-site to fully working remotely, which created among others factors new ways of collaboration. Consider: many employees are not used to working remotely. In some companies around the world it was not common or accepted to work remotely prior to the pandemic.

The four key challenges/ major competencies are:

  • Communication: using virtual tools, holding virtual meetings, conflict management, communication rules, feedback culture
  • Collaboration: virtual teamwork and team building, hybrid leadership, networking, knowledge management, team culture
  • Culture of trust: flexibility of work vs. performance measurement, building and maintaining trust between internal and external stakeholders
  • Conscious way of working: time and priority management, resilience, mindfulness, sustainable attitude to work

A smooth and structured transition into the new ways of working can be enabled by KPMG’s holistic change management approach.

A clear vision and overarching change strategy is key

To succeed, a clear vison of the new way of working is essential. The following key questions arise from a people-centric New Work approach:

  • How much flexibility is desired and accepted? – taking company aspects and employee expectations into consideration
  • Which of the organization’s processes and responsibilities are affected by the change?
  • Have all prerequisites been considered – processes, systems, tools, etc. – for working virtually and productively?
  • How far is the workforce enabled to work in virtual teams, use technology appropriately? Are the leadership team members skilled and equipped to be effective hybrid leaders?
  • What is the maturity level of the culture of trust to promote the New Work approaches?
  • Is the company perfectly prepared for remote and mobile working in terms of compliance and tax models?

Evaluating the answers to the above questions and deriving both a clear change vision as well as an overall change strategy greatly supports the following change process:
First, leaders need to be aligned around the strategic aims, the ambition, the culture and the scale of change. Second, clarity on the vision, the benefits of the implementation, and the way to a successful rollout of the new ways of working need to be provided. Third, the remote working vision needs to be put into reality for employees, so that they understand what it means for them individually and for their day-to-day work. Fourth, supporting the move of the organization towards the target state and to equip the people with skills to embrace the new ways of working is of pivotal importance. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the certainty that there is capability in the organization to embed and sustain the new ways of working – to make it stick.

Our KPMG Change Management approach can help create a remote working model that supports the employees in adopting new ways of working. It also supports organizations in focusing on their employees, their changing needs and their behaviors.

Get further insights: 
Work anywhere, together - Change Management (Factsheet, PDF)
Enabling a thriving virtual work environment (Factsheet, PDF)

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