By Petra Jenner, General Manager and Senior Vice President – Europe, Middle East, and Africa Emerging Markets, Salesforce
As Middle East companies step up their preparations to return to work safely, the expectations of customers have transformed forever. And it’s clear that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be felt for some time. According to a recent McKinsey survey, up to 80% of workers across Europe say they face a certain degree of job insecurity; projections suggest that unemployment on the continent could double.
The crisis has raised fundamental questions for all organisations: how to migrate services online, respond to shifting workplace realities, and rising need to re- and upskill the workforce for the jobs of the future. As these organisations embark on the digital transformation journey, they’re going to need the right technologies and trusted advice along the way.
Transforming the Workplace
Across every industry, the ways we work – how we access information, communicate and collaborate remotely – are transforming fast. According to Salesforce’s own research, 69% of consumers and employees expect that the practical and cultural shifts we’re seeing now will become permanent: increasing opportunities to work from home, to host and attend virtual as opposed to physical events, and to learn online. How companies operate, and also how they attract and retain talent, will increasingly depend upon how willing and capable they are to facilitate this kind of flexibility longer-term.
As the pandemic continues to evolve and employee expectations change, businesses not only have a responsibility, increasingly it’s within their interest to offer employees the option to work in ways that maximise their productivity and wellbeing.
Ultimately, it is technology that is enabling the whole transformation of business models, redeployment of employees, and facilitating work from anywhere arrangements. To meet customer and employee expectations, we’re going to see more businesses re-imagine the ways they work and where.
The pandemic is accelerating the demand for digital services to the extent that changes we typically might have expected to come about in four of five years are happening within a couple of months. These changes aren’t limited to services, they’re also transforming the skills that both businesses and their workforce need for the jobs of the future. Essentially, we’re re-imagining what it means to learn and upskill. How we bridge existing skills and educational gaps today will determine our success as a society long into the future.
Among the workforce, this demand for reskilling is evident across the continent: the majority of employees (60%) told us that they’re looking forward to retraining and learning new skills at this time.
Over recent months we’ve seen many organisations redeploy and retain employees in response to changing demand for services. Upskilling employees, for instance, to master Salesforce Service Cloud and other technologies has not only helped customer service teams to deal with mounting customer queries. It has also made both the organisations and their workforce more agile and prepared for other moments of uncertainty that may arise.
To equip employees with the tools they need to succeed, businesses are going to need to transform their whole workforce development strategies. For inspiration they can look to academic institutions which are migrating lessons and interactive workshops online, and to solutions like Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning tool which can take new users on the path to over a million jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem within as little as six months. In the current climate, all employers and governments have a part to play in enhancing our society’s collective knowledge and skill sets as entire businesses and careers are re-invented in the digital economy.
Navigating the digital transformation journey together
As Middle East businesses begin to reopen their physical workplaces, shifts in customer and employee behaviors and expectations mean that opening digital equivalents are imperative to recovery. At Salesforce we recognize that the digital transformation journey can be difficult to navigate alone. Equipped with the right technologies, and guided by trusted advice, together we can digitally transform how we do business and how we afford opportunities to everyone in the Middle East’s society.