If 2020 and 2021 were the years of “waiting for the new normal”, 2022 is the year of “debating whether this is the new normal we envisaged” I think. Looking ahead to 2023 and I expect to see levelling-out (not necessarily levelling-up!) in terms of how businesses run. Breaking that down, I see three core themes of change.
The four-day week
When I speak to other CEOs, founders, and leaders the thing we almost always end up talking about is just how much the future of the working week has changed. In our business, Loytech, we work a four-day week. Everyone in the business works from 0800 to 1800, Monday to Thursday.
The benefit of a three-day weekend is clear for our people – but there’s more than just benevolence behind the idea. Our employees talk about wellbeing, balance, and energy levels; they’re happier for it. And perhaps because they’re happier – not to mention more rested and refreshed every Monday – they’re more productive too.
Our people are around 115% as productive, i.e. 15% more, than when they work a five day week. Technology drives this, of course, because ‘cloud’ is not enough – companies have to invest in a whole host of tools to make sure this works, people are supported, the productivity is there, and growth is not affected.
After two years of working from home, it wasn’t wholly clear whether people would be rushing back to the office or ripping up their season tickets forever. The fact we’ve arrived somewhere in the middle is, I think, the perfect solution.
A decade ago even occasional WFH days were rare – and often met with suspicion inside organisations. Now, every job ad I see on LinkedIn makes it clear whether that role is an on-site, remote, or hybrid option – with hybrid generally being one or two days in the / an office. I’m a big fan of this for two differing reasons. With my shareholder hat on I think about how workspace can be better used. I’ve been in several companies previously where we’d “ran out of space” but in fact had not. Expensive refits, even-more expensive office moves, and even-even-more expensive lease surrenders followed. Instead of just reorganising how, where, and when (and why) we brought all our people together in the same place.
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From a people-focused perspective I love the idea of being able to ‘give back’ handfuls of hours per week to someone by simply saying they don’t need to sit on an overcrowded and expensive train for an hour just to get to or from work. Again, this was catalysed by the pandemic but entirely fuelled by technology solutions. For too long it was too easy to bemoan WFH because of connectivity, resources, or seemingly-impossible IT setups.
More than just cash
‘The Great Resignation’ is still ongoing, with 30% of people expected to move jobs before the year is out. When we speak to people about why they’re moving a few expected things come up – ‘hard reasons’ like moving for a payrise, moving for a hybrid / remote role (with that option refused by their current employer), or moving for a promotion not available where they are now.
A whole host of ‘soft reasons’ consistently arise too. Better access to training, learning and development – in a way that suits the user – is one example. Better employee rewards, with more choice and flexibility – like what we offer at Mór with Corporate Membership – is another, helping people get more out of their package than just paying the bills at the end of each month.
We also hear requests for more choice and control over their experience of working in – and then having time out of – the organisation. Technology is the answer to all of these. Smart L&D platforms, relevant Rewards & Benefit platforms, and meaningful Wellbeing platforms. Every leader I know is looking at how to incorporate these in to their business to attract, retain, and reward their talent.
What are you planning as a leader?
Work life balance is still to be achieved for most people – you only have to look at the threat of the “summer of discontent” that looms over us all currently. How are you working to make your employees content? An inflation busting payrise is not the answer for most companies – given such would add well in to double digits to payroll costs – but something has to be. For me, it’s using technology to deliver all of the above.
CRAIG UNSWORTH BIO:
Craig Unsworth is Co-CEO of Loytech, the innovation-driven loyalty technology specialist, having established the business in January 2021 with co-founder Urchana Moudgil. Loytech is best known for Mór, the employee and customer loyalty platform powered by independent brands.
With a career spanning nearly 20 years, Craig’s focus is customer experience and technology utilisation, usually working to define and embed marketplace or platform strategies. Premium, challenger, and independent brands are where he adds most value, through a focus on productisation that builds competitive advantages. He has worked across B2B and B2C and specifically enjoys multistakeholder environments i.e. B2B2C companies.
Craig’s mix of board-level and consulting roles have been based out of London, Geneva, Singapore, and New York giving a global perspective. His core strength is building concepts and developing new products – along with the high performing teams to deliver them – that add to company valuations. He has delivered results in the form of MBO, private equity, trade sale, and IPO exits in a variety of business sizes – from agile start-ups to global listed groups.
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