Resetting the Future of Work Agenda
Resetting the Future of Work Agenda

Written by

Diana Florescu



min. read

Resetting the Future of Work Agenda

According to a recent report released by McKinsey, around 9.9 million jobs in CEE are at risk due to COVID‐19. About 36% of these jobs are also at risk of displacement due to automation by 2030.



Faced with unprecedented challenges, larger corporations are either laying-off talent at an unprecedented scale and speed or they underestimate the added value of upskilling their employees to the long-term growth of their businesses.

How can businesses capitalise on this change?

1. Developing Digital Capabilities in House

Case Study: AWS - identifying areas of internal excellence to sell externally


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In 2006, Amazon was first to market with a modern cloud infrastructure service, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Competitors took years to respond, resulting in Amazon still having a huge market share. It was launched as a side business to Amazon (a business that started as a bookseller).

In 2017, AWS was worth $17.4 billion in revenue.

Why was Amazon able to move so fast to market, and how did they do it without distracting them from building their main business?

They leveraged expertise they’d had to build in-house for themselves. They realised that the effort Amazon IT teams had gone through to set up their IT infrastructure for the e-commerce business was being duplicated by all other IT departments across different industries. They could turn a key activity they already had in-house, into a Key Resource to sell in another business model, and generate great recurring revenue with incredibly high margin to a whole new target customer segment (big business IT departments like Netflix).

2. Adopting new platforms as a service to optimise costs

Thanks to connectivity and cloud-based tools, concepts of remote and distributed work are increasingly common in the business world – and set to become mainstream in the near future. It will be increasingly important to develop good digital systems for recruiting and managing the numerous freelancers and contractors that large corporates will employ as part of their workforce.

Take for example Schneider’s Open Talent Market, its internal mobility platform that started in 2018 in part to retain workers. Now it’s being used to optimise operations and offer more opportunities to more workers. The platform gives employees access to job postings, mentors, training, and part-time projects, creating what the company calls “an internal gig economy.” The initial focus of the effort was on helping employees move to new jobs within the company.



But as Schneider confronted the shifting realities posed by COVID-19, it saw enormous value in how its gig economy — the company-wide portfolio of short-term projects — was allowing the company to optimize its workforce by matching managers who didn’t have enough manpower with employees who had the capacity and bandwidth to help.

3. Empowering your departing talent to thrive and build new solutions

Case Study: Nokia Bridge (New Thinking in Corporate Social Responsibility)

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In 2011 Nokia’s mobile phone business was under attack and failing in the marketplace. To remain competitive, Nokia needed to undergo a massive restructuring, which would involve laying off 18,000 employees in 13 countries.

The leadership decided to work to help employees find a softer landing - the Bridge Programme was developed. Employees could follow one of five different paths 1) Find another job at Nokia 2) Find another job outside of Nokia 3) Start a new business 4) Learn something new 5) Create your own path

  • 60% of the 18,000 employees who were laid off in 13 countries joined the programme
  • 1000 new businesses were started by Nokia’s Bridge programme across five continents in the last 10 years
  • 18% of these companies have made a technology licensing agreement with Nokia
  • Nokia’s overall productivity increased during 2011-13. Employees at the layoff sites created 3.4 billion euros in new product revenues, 1/3 of new products sales

As a Head of HR or a C-Level executive here are three questions that could help you narrow down your opportunity spaces:

1.Which spaces are you excited about? Which spaces jumped out? Why? Are there other opportunities you can see here? Can you define your own opportunity spaces?

2. Costs optimisation or Future Growth? Does the idea need to save you costs? Are you interested in ideas you could sell externally? Are there other KPIs it has to hit?

3. Leverage vs Build Capability? Do you have the capability to work in each opportunity space? Would you invest to build capability in-house? Could an initiative help you develop that capability? Could you partner with a startup to deliver? Do you need to build it in-house?


The outbreak of the COVID‐19 pandemic has been a global humanitarian crisis that has upended lives and cast a shadow of uncertainty over the future. Embracing a ‘business as usual’ mentality just doesn’t make sense. It’s crucial to have the bravery to double down on innovation and to adopt the right culture and mindset. The right culture will always reflect the values of the leadership, it cannot be manufactured. If the leadership does not want to change or transform the organisation, the staff certainly won’t.

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