Authored by: Jessica Knight, IRMSA Risk Intelligence Committee Member
The Fourth Industrial Revolution brings with it a fundamental shift in how we do business.
Advances in technology and the increasing digitisation of many roles means that the conventional brick-and-mortar business model is quickly shifting towards a hybrid model of an international corporation with nuances of the exponentially popular gig economy.
This hybrid is regularly defined by decentralised operations and autonomous employees.
In this ever-transforming landscape, a key consideration for organisations is how to take advantage of the global marketplace to source top talent, through the use of digital nomads.
Digital nomads are remote workers who typically travel to different locations while still fulfilling their professional obligations.
They often work in coffee shops, co-working spaces, or public libraries, relying on devices with wireless internet capabilities like smartphones and mobile hotspots to do their work on the move.
The average digital nomad is a Millennial between the ages of 22-35 who is tech-savvy and in hot pursuit of the optimal work-life balance.
Rethink Productivity Measurement
The rise of digital nomadism is causing companies to re-evaluate the traditional model of measuring productivity.
Companies that are preoccupied with time spent working - as opposed to deliverables or results and the quality thereof - are focused on the wrong unit of measure.
The number of hours a person works rarely equates to their productivity or achieved results.
In a factory system you can achieve economies of scale through allocating and automating tasks that run on a time basis and can measure the cost/yield per hour of production.
People are not machines and you cannot achieve the same utility by treating them as such, so why do we continue to use elements of the factory system in how we manage and govern businesses?
Productivity and efficiency in humans should not be measured off the basis of hours worked.
There is an ebb and flow that needs to be considered, differentiating human and machine elements.
Enter the digital nomad, a role focused on results as "hours worked" becomes an almost ungovernable aspect of operations.
The appeal of the 40 - 50 plus hours per week spent in a cubicle environment is dwindling in the face of defining your own operational environment through digital nomadism.
Not all trends are relevant
The integration of digital nomadism is not necessarily suitable to every organisation as it poses new risks stemming from hybrid business models, decentralisation and technological reliance.
This refined form of freelancing is often ambiguous, lacks structure and is constantly adapting.
Defining and managing your company’s risk becomes tricky when your workforce does not sit in the same place and operate using standardised methods.
Controlling roles and responsibilities from a distance becomes a challenge when your team cannot be easily monitored.
A business should be able to achieve the same or better results when considering the adoption of the digital nomad trend.
Not all trends are relevant so adoption should always align to business objectives before pop-culture imperatives.
The crux of governing digital nomads of the future is not to try and replicate a conventional business model for remote work, but rather to completely re-evaluate what a successful operational environment should look like.
There are many metrics to gauge business success, but operational success - a holistic success factor for employees, their environment and the work that they do - is traditionally measured through a mishmash KPI structure with the occasional employee happiness/satisfaction survey sprinkled in-between.
A company can still achieve good results with “sufficiently happy” or even unhappy employees.
Effectively measuring and monitoring operations is not always a priority when the business is making money, but employee wellbeing is often the first to suffer when the business is not.
Digital nomadism is an opportunity to completely overhaul this model of “average-at-best” operations by empowering employees with the ability to define their own operational environment.
Making a success of digital nomadism requires providing employees with the autonomy to determine their working hours - companies must remain cognisant that not all employees perform best from 9am to 5pm, nor do all employees require 8 hours to execute the tasks expected of them.
Further to this, productivity is likely to increase when employees are working in environments that make them work most efficiently.
Leveraging the right technology for your business and maximising your human capital in the right way can be the difference between success and failure of the digital endeavour.
Things to consider:
MEDIA CONTACT: Rosa-Mari, 060 995 6277, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.atthatpoint.co.za
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In the run-up to the important national elections in May this year, people were hopeful and desperately anticipating a change in the leadership of the country.
Everybody knew that this election was such an important time for all South Africans, fully aware of the implications for the country and hoping for certain outcomes so that the business landscape would remain secure and bring positive growth, put a stop to the pervasive fraud and corruption and most importantly, create jobs!
Several months later things are still unfolding and developing, with uncertainty creating new risks and opportunities. “We need political stability in the country as it is affecting the economy. There are big issues to concern ourselves with such as stopping the mismanagement of public funds, reducing unemployment, and especially youth unemployment,” says Gillian le Cordeur, CEO of the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA).
The results of Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of 2019 indicate that the official unemployment rate increased to 29%, up from 27.6% in the first quarter. The country now has 6.7 million unemployed people.
Stability and confidence
“We need confidence in our leaders. Stability is key for us to move forward,” says Le Cordeur. She says the internal political struggles within the country’s local, provincial and national leadership are eroding the stability and confidence needed in South Africa from its citizens and international community alike.
Adding to this, is the uncertainty around land reform weighing heavily on business leaders, investors and risk professionals and whether or not it will be dealt with responsibly.
“We need to be thinking ahead and to have a strategic purpose for what our country and our organisations need.”
It is IRMSA’s conviction that the country needs stronger risk professionals and stronger private and public sector leaders to be able to make the right strategic moves as we head into the future.
Risk professionals that are able to reflect on the political and economic factors right now and how they could potentially play out in the next few months and how we need to prepare our organisations.
To be on the forefront of informing decision making and enabling transformation - not only within our organisations but in the country as well.
Corporate governance and ethics
Le Cordeur adds that as much as IRMSA is concerned about the political and economic landscape they are also concerned about corporate governance and ethics.
There have been too many corporate failures in recent times. On top of that South Africans are being swamped with reports of corruption and state capture.
It is all very well to wait for this landscape to change from a political point of view, but at the same time the foundation of our society remains weak.
“As risk professionals and business leaders we must make sure that our house is in order so that there can be no finger-pointing. It will be such a pity that you could not make an impact, because your house was not in order.”
IRMSA will be tackling pressing issues during its post-election event in Johannesburg later this month (August).
Christopher Palm, Chief Risk Advisor at IRMSA says that linking risk to strategy, applying a systems-thinking approach to risk management and making sure that risk influences decision making through the development of predictive capabilities are critical success factors to build robust alternative futures over the short, medium and long term landscapes for South Africa and South African business.
“Once you know how the landscape will unfold in the next few years, you are able to align your own activities and strategies to be able to deal with those risks,” says Le Cordeur.
“We need to pull everything together to act pro-actively on the risks facing us on all fronts.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Rosa-Mari, 060 9956277,email@example.com, www.atthatpoint.co.za
For more information on IRMSA please visit: