A 'new world' of workforce data will drive sustainability

By Michael Cupps
Michael Cupps, Senior VP Marketing at Activeops, highlights the importance of workforce data

The term ‘net zero’ has been on the lips of climate experts, politicians, and sustainability advocates for a while now. As a result, reaching it inevitably occupied much of the agenda at COP26. The issues discussed during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference had far-reaching implications, all of which have been carried into 2022. Now, as the topic continues to garner attention within the public domain, the actions needed to mitigate climate change are an absolute priority among world leaders. The scrutiny they are under has inevitably trickled down onto organisations, and now business leaders are in the spotlight and being forced to act if they are to survive.    

Pressures to mitigate climate change intensify    

The rise of social media has made it easier for the public sphere to direct their worries. This has intensified the need for companies to focus on corporate social responsibility. Therefore, the negative limelight is now mainly focused on the organisations deemed guilty of committing acts of environmental irresponsibility.    

In addition, this pressure towards responsible and sustainable operations will only grow. The later they wait, it will be increasingly difficult for businesses to be transparent as possible in their response. Thereby it's imperative that all organisations, from start-ups to global brand icons, recognise that running sustainable operations is the key to unlocking a positive brand reputation in the future.   

Data can be the light at the end of a dark tunnel    

The pandemic led to a sudden change of working culture worldwide, forcing businesses to rethink how their people, procedures, and technology interfaced. This change also brought about industry-wide expectations that the pandemic would damage productivity. As the Omicron variant became more widespread earlier this year, the effects were felt globally. Organisations will need to rapidly adjust their plans to keep employees safe and comply with the law in other variants rising to prominence in the future. The need for people to work from home makes hybrid working more prevalent and complicated as it demands better orchestration.   

Although data requirements initially might seem burdensome, they can be a source of optimisation. Workforce data could be the key for organisations to successfully navigate these challenging times.   

A business now requires unveiling real insights and implementing operational changes that promote cultural and performance consistency in a hybrid world. Many leaders will also recognise that capturing real-time data at aggregate and individual levels can enable a company to uncover more prominent organisational trends that can drive overall business efficiency. In a global business environment that is both highly competitive and relentlessly volatile, access to real-time performance data – or a lack of access to that essential data – will make or break businesses.    

It is also essential to consider profound consequences when a business doesn't have insight into the data required for the managers to make fast and accurate decisions over scheduling and workforce levels across departments. Shortages of resources, limited capacity, and backlogs of work yet to be processed inevitably affect the customer experience on the outside and decrease employee morale on the inside. 

Similarly, employees face burnout, digital surveillance, and the potential for missed training or guidance due to traditional touchpoints of in-office work. This lack of coordination can genuinely eat in overall efficiency and subsequent engagement, leading to lower productivity and higher staff turnover as a result. 

Businesses are coming to appreciate the value of having a data-backed structured approach to managing operations. 

The application of this hybrid work data is essential for three reasons:  

  • Managers can be aware of real-time work location, the team's productivity, and availability, meaning workload can be distributed where and when required
  • Location-based performance data expands planning opportunities for managers to identify areas where office capacity can be modified, meaning carbon footprint targets are more achievable
  • Sustainability teams now have access to historical data regarding the commuting impact of their employees, meaning businesses can reduce ineffectual travel, and increase work output opportunities

Technology's role in driving sustainable operations 

With the knowledge that a focus on sustainability can improve an organisation's relationship with the public, companies should now be prepared to consider ways to get an advantage over their competitors. One way of doing so is by leveraging technology in the right way. It is now possible to have a workforce optimisation solution (WFO) to provide sustainability managers with real-time data in retrospect the location of where employees are working and how they perform. This will allow businesses to gather data efficiently and affordably without an extensive implementation of full WFO, allowing them to meet their sustainability goals. There are many balances to be struck and trade-offs to be made in the quest to minimise carbon emissions, but the goal can be reached if businesses recognise what is required and act upon it promptly. 

A 'new era' of sustainable working    

Most firms are considering reducing their carbon footprint and becoming more sustainable. If your business is using data to support a hybrid workforce, then you should see a reduction in emissions on multiple fronts. You may see reduced emissions as fewer employees commute and those who commute less. You may see a reduced need for office lighting and heating – not to mention a reduction in office waste – as footfall in the office decreases.  The workforce data you gather to enable all this will help demonstrate a contribution to your businesses' emission reduction program – or could even form the basis of starting one if you have not already.  

Invest in productivity sustainability now, reap the rewards in the future   

Due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, it is no wonder that many sectors of the world's economy have accelerated their digital transformation attempts. If business leaders play their cards right, they will be able to maintain satisfactory productivity levels through uncertainty. The drive towards optimising organisational efficiency and productivity should no longer centre solely around performance and profit but equally, revolve around sustainability. 

Michael Cupps is Senior VP, Marketing, at Activeops, which specialises in management process automation and adds efficiency and value to operational management 

• Join global business leaders and sustainability experts who are taking meaningful action at Sustainability LIVE, being held at Tobacco Dock, London, 23-24 February 2022. Register your attendance today. Click here to discover more. ​​​

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