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When change is the new normal: New research into the future of work

Aisling Curtis

Aisling Curtis

Global Partner Solutions Director

Read Time, 4 min.

Create the right company culture or get left behind: new research into the future of work

The pace of change in the modern workplace is relentless. Not a week goes by that a new digital innovation or technologically driven approach emerges to disrupt and influence our workplace status quo.

And yet, despite these emerging innovations, our capacity to move with the times and stay abreast of these changes remains very much human. As Dr Michael Parke of the London Business School notes: “The process of adopting new behaviours in a workplace still moves at a human’s pace.”

That’s why Microsoft has worked in partnership with the London Business School and KRC Research to explore the future of work. Looking at the intersection of culture, leadership and technology in workplaces across 15 European countries, including Ireland.

This research of 9,000 employees across Europe will help ambitious and forward-thinking businesses navigate this new era of digital transformation in the workplace.

Key insights into the future of work

The research found that 93% of Irish organisations (92% across the EU) are facing continual and rapid changes to their business models, products, business strategy or regulatory environment.

For businesses, having the right organisational structures in place to be able to adapt to these changes is essential to achieving the competitive advantage needed to succeed in this exciting new era.

And the work culture we promote is the glue that binds these structures together.

Across Europe, the business leaders that contributed to this study identified cultural change as their number one priority. However, in Ireland only one third of business leaders see getting their organisation’s culture right as their top priority.

Being ambivalent towards company culture could be preventing some companies from reaching their full potential, as the research shows that Irish businesses with a highly innovative culture – where new approaches are welcome, and new ideas get support – are more than twice as likely to expect double-digit growth.

But the benefits of an established organisational culture aren’t limited to the bottom line – it’s also about attracting and retaining the best talent. Our study found that Irish companies with innovative cultures are also positioned to win the war for talent, with 79% of their employees planning to stay in their jobs – versus just 62% of those working in less innovative cultures.

So, what are these highly innovative companies doing that makes them so attractive and successful?

What innovative companies do better 

Success in the future of work is about more than your product, your USP or your capacity to disrupt. It’s about the approach you take around three key areas.

1. Enhance collaboration by tearing down silos

In Ireland, 71% of business leaders in an organisation with an innovative culture see overall collaboration as crucial, versus 49% of companies without this type of culture. In particular, 86% of Irish business leaders see collaborating across teams as critical, with 81% claiming that collaboration with external partners is vital to their business. Innovative cultures empower 66% of employees to share ideas, with 60% finding it easier to collaborate.

A great example is University Hospital Limerick adopted Microsoft Teams to enable physiotherapists at University Hospital Limerick to help cystic fibrosis (CF) patients perform vital exercises in the comfort of their own home via a remote link.  Cutting down demand on beds, patient travel time and the risk of infection amongst vulnerable patients.

2. Empower teams to say and act how they feel

In a recent TED Talk, Chris White from the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organisations talked about key ways that bring out the best in employees. We all need to feel that our voice can be heard, and the workplace is no different. Innovative organisation cultures empower their people to feel that they can speak up with confidence, saying what they see and think – and not being afraid to make a mistake.

In Ireland, 71% of employees working in an innovative culture feel it is ok to speak up if there is an issue at work, with 70% saying it is ok for them to make a mistake. As well as this, 68% claim that it is easy to get support when required. By contrast, only 50% feel it is easy to speak up or make a mistake in an organisation with a low innovative or learning culture.

3. Creating a meaningful workplace

We all like to feel that the work we’re doing is meaningful. We would also like to work in an environment where is easy for us to focus. With this in mind, it’s incredible that 60% of Irish employees feel they are losing up to 61% of their time every week due to things like unnecessary interruptions (24%), inefficient meetings (15%), searching for information, (12%) or seeking approvals (12%). Employees that feel they are able to work in a way where they can focus all of their energy on the task at hand are three times more likely to say they are happy with their job.

Overall, we now live and work in an environment of constant change and disruption, which is set to continue. Competitive advantage for business is no longer solely about technology, pricing or product, but how your employees see their role within an organisation. An innovative culture will be the catalyst to unlocking and optimising innovation and productivity so you can adapt to ongoing change.


Aisling Curtis

Commercial Director

Report: Work Reworked

Discover what the future of work looks in this guide to help you navigate the digital era.

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