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Give omni-connected experiences, get business value

Creating human connections is key for growth
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Call for change

Like many organizations, Accenture shifted almost 100% of our people to remote ways of working during the pandemic. Though a portion of our employee population has worked remotely for decades, there were some key learnings from this pandemic shift which we are using to shape our future of work—while balancing the needs of our clients and the health and safety of our people. We’re reimagining the future of work by creating an environment where our people feel connected and included and know they belong.

We’ve entered a new era where many people are fundamentally re-evaluating their relationship with work and how it fits in their lives. Flexibility gained during the pandemic—and a desire to keep it—is paramount for most. At the same time, we know that people also value having in-person time, whether at client sites or at Accenture locations, and certain work is done best when a team collaborates in person.

With this new era of work, comes the opportunity to create new and better work experiences. We set out to understand how our future working practices can be flexible, adapting to the needs of each team and accommodating the diverse spectrum of work we do and people we employ.

For Accenture, there is no “one size-fits-all” or even “one size fits many” definition of the future of work. We were deliberate in choosing to expand our focus beyond “spaces and places”—where people will work and how many days they will be onsite—because the opportunity lies in reimagined experiences. But what does this mean and what does it look like?

“Work as we knew it has been truly upended. Today, people’s experiences need to transcend a physical location, so we’re looking to create the future of work where every individual can fully participate, contribute, be heard and feel like they belong while, at the same time, keep our culture vibrant.”

— ELLYN SHOOK, Chief Leadership & Human Resources Officer, Accenture

When tech meets human ingenuity

We gathered inputs over the course of a year—in the market, within our business and with our people—to inform how and where we work. We tapped into this thinking to find out how we could best inspire our people and embed experiences that build trust to unlock their full potential.

We applied our Care To Do Better research which identifies the six main human needs that leave people net better off—relational, purposeful, emotional/mental, physical, financial and employable. Creating work experiences that meet these needs not only strengthens trust, but also realizes two-thirds of an individual’s potential and boosts business results, even in times of economic instability.

We undertook external research to better understand our clients’ views and what the market was saying. We looked at the academic landscape and reviewed hundreds of research publications to absorb and synthesize thought leadership on global context, culture change, competitors and technology trends.

We also crowdsourced inputs from potential candidates, surveying 3,900 people from Brazil, Europe, India, Japan, the Philippines and the United States. We found that 50% of respondents identified flexing their location and their daily hours of availability as the most important aspect when evaluating a potential employer. Across all regions, working collaboratively with a team, knowledge sharing, onboarding and leadership engagement are the kinds of in-person interactions that matter most.

We closely examined the work we do by conducting interviews with leaders in our geographies and services, along with other subject matter experts, to understand the practices supporting remote work and return to office activities. We discussed how they connect with their people and the unique needs of the various countries and service areas.

We analyzed more than 80% of all job roles and identified the location needs across the roles and where activities could be done better in-person. This provided us with specific baseline recommendations for in-person time and the in-person activities people value most.

We listened to the voices of our people through the 78,000 responses from our global all-people survey. We asked them to reflect on what has worked well and to envision our future and share what they need for their well-being, productivity and fulfilment. Eighty-eight percent identified flexible working as the most important enabler for work in the future.

We also listened to feedback from internal Change@Work events which brought together 14,000 people across the world to ideate on building careers that people love, recognizing shared success and creating a sense of belonging. These events revealed that innovative and sustainable ways of working are key to maintaining high performance and exceptional employee experiences.

Key to our success is building our future of work based on what we heard and staying focused on what’s most important to consider as we move forward. We know that compassionate leadership and intentional behaviors support a team environment where people can thrive and reach their full potential.

The future of work model reimagined

Based on these insights, we developed a comprehensive approach—including principles, processes and personas to guide Accenture leaders as they make decisions about new, flexible ways of working. Guidance is customized taking into consideration the landscape as well as local laws, policies and regulations. This ensures that we have a global approach that is locally relevant, while helping to level the playing field to create more equitable experiences.

The five keys to the future of work

Flexible working: Identified as the most important enabler of hybrid working in the future, flexibility supports well-being and productivity—88% of our survey respondents said this was “most important.”

No one-size-fits-all: Our model needs to be diverse and flexible enough to support the spectrum of work we do and the people we employ.

Decision framework: We support a consistent approach to decision making of where work happens, using guidance on job requirements for roles and considering client preferences, regulatory requirements, phase of project, tenure and individual preferences.

In-person connection time: While it may range from weekly to quarterly touch points based on roles, all of our people will have a recommended baseline for in-person time—for collaboration, learning, knowledge sharing and building our connection with clients, peers, leaders and communities.

Human-led culture and omni-connected experience: Establishing an inclusive, connected culture and experience built on equality and diverse opportunities to ensure all people feel they belong, can advance, thrive and build careers they love.

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A valuable difference

Omni-connected is the complete experience of work: of feeling connected, of being included, and knowing we belong, regardless of our physical location. When we are omni-connected, we use technology and human ingenuity to make sure we are seen, can fully contribute, and have equal quality of experience. This comes from the digital tools we use, our physical locations, our behaviors, and the culture we create. Omni-connected experiences help our people strengthen their emotional connection to Accenture because culture thrives in relationships, not in places and spaces.

Omni-connectivity creates a shared and equal experience, wherever you work from, whatever you work on and whoever you work with.

Omni-connected experiences come to life at Accenture through key areas of activity that go well beyond a simple focus on work location and includes an emphasis on leadership, inclusive and empathetic behaviors, working smart regardless of location and more. Here’s some areas to consider for your organization to be more omni-connected:

  • Design and innovate for complexity: Look at work holistically to manage the diverse landscape of different roles and demands in the organization. Engage your senior business leaders and consider the feedback of individuals and teams to build a strong sense of community.
  • Invest in relationships: Focus on creating a safe environment that is inclusive and diverse, making it easy to build intentional connections as a team. Engage in empathetic listening and utilize language of appreciation to inspire confidence and courageous behaviors.
  • Bring together humans and machines: Combine technology and human ingenuity to make sure everyone is seen, can fully contribute and has equal quality of experience, no matter where they are located. Consider how immersive reality and metaverse experiences can help people connect in new ways, feel a deeper sense of community and experience your culture in a personal way.

We continue to evolve and enhance our approach as we learn more and shape industry leading work experiences and practices where people can bring their best selves—not only to work, but also to their entire lives— and achieve their aspirations, professionally and personally.

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