Pakistan & Gulf Economist

The FoW3 9R Model: Future of work, workman and the workplace

The Only Constant in Life is Change. (Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher)

The world is rapidly changing and evolving, driven by the digital revolution. Its impact can be felt all around the energy industry where there is a growing need to modernize and upgrade assets, processes, and operations, ranging from oil exploration techniques, to oil refining facilities, to natural gas processing and storage plants. The workforce in the energy industry is subjected to these changes and we are witnessing a transformation in every walk of life. Efficiently managing human resources and improving employee experience during these rapidly changing times requires a better understanding of the Future of Work.

To explain this, I have mapped 9-Rs of Future of Work in three Clusters: Workplace, Workman, and Work as shown in the diagram.. This can potentially help companies stay on course during these evolving times and steer towards sustainable business operations with a great employee experience.

These days, the senior corporate executives have started having meaningful discussions around business sustainability, growth plans, operational excellence, and above all Re-defining Purpose of existence. People with high sense of purpose generally live by the strong personal values. Such employees make a significant impact on their work as well as on others and the society. Moreover, by Reinvigorating the Passion of such employees, organizations can help unleash their full potential, increase productivity, and remain highly engaged along with having sense of purpose. Hence, the question “does my company have a Purpose aligned with mine” has become more relevant today.

Nowadays, organizations are diversifying and expanding into secondary markets to become more resilient to the changing business environment. The concept of Rethink Organization helps in transitioning from ‘design for efficiency’ to ‘design for resilience’. That is only possible by enabling and empowering business units to enhance performance through more focus on their income statements and cost leadership.

In a pre-pandemic world, remote work arrangement was limited to technology businesses. However, in the post-pandemic world, this applies to all sorts of businesses, including the energy companies. The petroleum companies around the world, including Pakistan, embraced the remote working culture during the pandemic that allowed them to provide vital products, despite lockdowns. Hence, there is a need to Re-align Culture to avoid a culture war between those who think that remote work will not hold good for long and those who are ready to embrace the hybrid work environment.

Research from recent surveys shows that a large chunk of people now believe that their productivity increases through working from home. These results demand a need to Reorganize Structures by investing in technological infrastructure to facilitate hybrid work models. By doing so, the businesses can offer better flexibility and perks to their employees.

Additionally, the work processes must also be revisited to improve workforce productivity and ensure operational excellence. The businesses must therefore Re-engineer the work processes. This, when correctly done, can improve quality by reducing the fragmentation of work as well as establishing clear ownership of processes. In due course, the workers (workman) would take responsibility for their output and can actually measure their own performance.

The contemporary talent management practices are typically built around outdated job models. Therefore, organizations must Re-design jobs that best fit the changing work dynamics.

Organizations can enhance learning agility by Re-skilling or up-skilling framework for the workers by establishing a technology-based ecosystem, developing an organizational competency framework and job-relevant skills at the individual level, and setting clear expectations from the leadership while educating them on how to assess skills. Focusing on people development can greatly improve employee morale, increase sustainability, and cause higher employee retention.

Above all, enabling a well-being culture through Re-modelling wellness programs that support healthy lifestyles such as sports club memberships, yoga time, and financial well-being, will greatly enhance employer branding. Importantly, encouraging employees to take work breaks and respecting their work-life balance has also become critical.

While the above argument around 9-Rs is based on my personal experience, they hold generally good across sectors, not just the energy industry. The pace and scale of ongoing business disruptions pose as much of a social and political challenge as a business one, and poor management of human resources can prove disastrous for organizations. The employers, therefore, must work on improving the employee experience.

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