The workplace environment is constantly shaping to incorporate new ideas, accommodate the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce, and promote effective communication across all departments within an organization. In the video under analysis, the new opportunities that remote jobs and the general trend toward transitioning to remote work have provided are discussed. Specifically, the speakers address the topics such as accelerated automation across industries, the ways for organizations to succeed during and despite Covid-19, the challenges of hybrid working, the value of human capital, and the role of inclusivity in the workplace. Although the specified topics might seem disjointed, they are interconnected in a framework of organizational management and the focus on increasing employees’ productivity.
Specifically, the issue of hyper-occupation is discussed as one of the main sources of concern for the future of employment. In conjunction to the specified concern, the positive aspects of a rise in the saturation of the digital employment market and the opportunities for collaborative intelligence are addressed. At the same time, some of the participants of the discussion made sure to emphasize that the transformation of the existing workplace to the digital one has not been completed yet, and that the hybrid model still has the opportunity to evolve into a meaningful framework. The conference participant explained that, to enhance the performance of a team in the context of a hybrid model, one must consider employee listening and viewing the situation through the employee’s lens, thus promoting inclusion, collaboration, and innovation.
To prompt the specified developments, the issue of talent attraction has been touched upon as a vital tool in building a digital workplace environment. Namely, the application of agile techniques, as well as creating platforms for online learning and the tools that will help staff members to adapt, have been discussed (World Economic Forum, 2021). Finally, the increasing significance of the human capital and the resulting rise in the role of the dialogue that fosters inclusivity have been mentioned. Namely, the problem of the gap in social protection has been outlined as one of the major concerns affecting vulnerable groups in the present-day workplace setting. To address the specified problem, lifelong learning for low-paid workers has been suggested as a solution. Therefore, all of the speeches produced by the participants are inspiring, engaging, and full of innovative ideas worth implementing in the organizational setting. Although the summit took place almost a year ago, it still holds relevance and addresses some of the key concerns that contemporary entrepreneurs have when setting the remote workplace environment, as well as the challenges that staff members have when transitioning to the remote employment status.
Focus and Significance of the Issues
Article Summary and Focus
Although the narrators address seemingly different issues, each of the problems discussed during the conference represents a separate facet of a single issue, namely, the challenge of transitioning form the realm of the physical workplace environment to the context of the digital one. Additionally, the opportunities that each change represents are also talked about profusely during the conference. For example, the first speaker addresses the concept of the increased propensity toward automation in the production processes, as well as a range of other areas of an organization’s performance. In connection to the specified issue, the problem of building trust between a company and its staff members in an entirely new, gig economy, is discussed. Specifically, by pointing to the phenomenon of hyper-occupation and the tremendous rates of market saturation in the digital market, the speaker draws attention to how technology accelerates workplace performance through enhanced data processing. Therefore, the speaker encourages the listeners to concentrate their attention on the task of promoting the increased development of talent in the workforce, emphasizing the role that collaborative intelligence achieved through knowledge sharing plays in the specified process (World Economic Forum, 2021). As a result, the necessity of building trust through collaboration and the development of shared culture is promoted.
The second speaker develops the specified narrative by adding the focus of Covid-19 as the main barrier toward effective workplace performance and achievement of the corresponding goals for employees and managers. Drawing attention to the fact that a large variety of employees find it difficult to adjust to the environment of the digital workplace, the speaker promotes the significance of building loyalty and engagement in staff members. According to the provided arguments, the specified goal can be achieved by using active listening, applying the employee lens as the means of analyzing workplace situations critically, and exploring the advantages of the hybrid model, which suggests a compromise between the digital and physical workplace. In addition, the specified change invited the opportunity for connecting inclusion, innovation, and collaboration, as the second speaker explains. Therefore, the second speaker expands the idea of transferring to the digital setting by pointing out how many chances for increasing their initiative, agency, and independence in decision-making the specified change can help to promote. Particularly, by listening to staff members and accepting their perspective, managers and company leaders can learn about the nuances of how the work gets done in the target setting, which will help to understand the challenges with which staff members must deal on a regular basis (World Economic Forum, 2021). As a result, the chance to co-create solutions with the workforce and reimagining the purpose and culture of workplaces emerges.
The third speaker expands on the issue further by explaining how talent can be attracted in the hybrid setting mentioned above. Specifically, the principle of agile transformation is centered in the discussion, promoting the significance of online learning and the ability to adjust to innovations and workplace changes, in general, within a very short time span. The importance of agility is combined with the focus on junior-senior hires strategy as one of the facets of the proposed agility framework (World Economic Forum, 2021). The specified change is expected to address the problem of unemployment, which is another major theme brought up in the specified conference.
Continuing the issue of managing relationships with staff members, the fourth speaker focuses on the means of valuing human capital and showing staff members appreciation for their work. Specifically, the focus on treating the workforce as the central asset of a company can be seen as a reasonable suggestion since it leads to the possibilities of promoting effective talent management and increasing employee engagement. In turn, the latter is crucial to the improvement of the staff members’ performance and initiative in the digital setting, as previous speakers conformed (World Economic Forum, 2021). The matching of skills as a viable strategy is also placed at the center of the conference participants’ attention, which is likely to have a positive effect on the use of unique talent management approaches and allowing employees to acquire the needed skills by exploring their learning styles and selecting the strategies that suit them best.
Finally, the fifth speaker finishes the discussion by shedding light on the issue of inclusivity as a critical prerequisite to the enhancement of the workplace performance and the development of a framework of social protection of the groups whose social situation places them in a vulnerable category (World Economic Forum, 2021). By outlining the role that social protection has for the employees that are classified as at-risk, the speaker contributes to building a safer workplace environment where staff members will be engaged and enthusiastic about meeting their responsibilities, thus, delivering excellent performance and acquiring the needed skills.
Each of the topics and themes discussed during the conference has an enormous significance for employees, managers, companies, people seeking job opportunities, students who are soon to enter the world of employment, and other stakeholders. Given the speed with which the transition to the digital economy has been occurring in the present-day business landscape, it can be expected that either an entirely remote or, at the very least, hybrid workplace settings will become ubiquitous in the employment market in the nearest future (Plotnikov et al., 2018). Therefore, it is central to understand how the traditional tools for motivating staff members and encouraging them to learn, accepting incremental innovation, ca be translated into the setting of the digital workplace.
Recommendations and Implications (A Critical HRM Perspective)
Implications (Talent Management)
Overall, the performances of the five speakers during the conference suggest that the current HRM environment needs to be shaped toward the acceptance of the digital space and the necessity to apply corresponding tools in managing the key tasks in it. Consequently, leaders must embrace the role of the transformational approach as the main guide in leading staff members toward the development of the vital skills needed to accept the proposed change and start building the related skillset. Additionally, the specified changes in the environment of the global labor force market indicates that changes must be administered to the current approach toward HRM and, particularly, the process of employer branding. Studies show that developing a strong and attracting employer brand affects the chances of a company to recruit talented employee and create a team of advanced experts (Saha et al., 2019). For this reason, the process of employer branding must be adopted as the means of advertising an organization among the target audiences in order to attract the attention of potential staff members.
Agility and Digital Maturity
As emphasized above, the introduction of agility as the framework that allows a company to coordinate every process within its structure and make immediate corresponding changes to the workflow in every single department is vital for succeeding in the global e-market. For this reason, companies must develop digital maturity, which implies the ability to utilize innovative digital tools, selecting the appropriate ones in a timely fashion, as well as being able to learn how to use specific digital tools quickly (Teichert, 2019). Overall, digital maturity, which suggests readiness to transition to the automated workplace processes and the use of digital technology, must be fostered within the organizational environment so that a company and its staff members could transition to the digital setting and create the environment in which employees could feel safe and comfortable. In turn, the goal of digital maturity can be attained once companies start seeking opportunities for hiring employees in the open talent economy (Merhi & Ahluwalia, 2018). By drawing a connection between the employer brand and its perception, the strategies geared at talent management, and the extent of employee engagement rates, HRM experts will discover the factors that impede the promotion of improved performance in the digital economy setting. As a result, adequate strategies for addressing the observed issues and assisting employees in the development of vital skills will be created.
Specifically, it is strongly recommended to use storytelling as the platform on which the corporate brand and a corresponding image of an organization will be built. The use of storytelling will allow to create a powerful emotional rapport with the target audience once a relatable narrative is built. Furthermore, according to Roxo (2021), by incorporating the tools such as transmedia into organizational storytelling, a company can increase the rates of its brand equity rapidly and quite noticeably, changing the perception of its brand among the target demographic instantly. Namely, Roxo (2021, p. 70) emphasizes that “transmedia storytelling could function as a transmitter of information so candidates could form useful associations and choices regarding an organization and career.” Therefore, the importance of storytelling as the vehicle for the creation of a brand value is not to be underestimated.
It is also strongly recommended to create the environment where staff members could feel that they are a valuable part of the organization and that their opinion are appreciated and taken into account by the company. While the specified issue harkens to the communication concern mentioned above, it could also be seen as an incentive for reconsidering the current corporate philosophy and the related policies concerning the role of staff members in decision-making.
Relation to the UAE Policy, Strategic Plans, Culture, and Environment
The issues outlined above, namely, the need to transition to the context of the digital economy and the challenges that companies and employees are likely to experiencing the process, is quite important for the UA business environment currently. Having been stricken by the coronavirus pandemic as well, the UAE economy has been shaped significantly after opportunities for transitioning to remote work have been introduced into its setting for all organizations. Remarkably, on could claim that of all countries, the UAE has performed the transition to the digital market with the greatest rate of success, as the recent reports mention (Chandra et al., 2019). The reasons for the UAE to enjoy such stunning success in the transfer of its economy to the online context include mainly the ability of the UAE companies to connect the relevant changes in the information management process to the areas such as the IT infrastructure, marketing, and HRM.
Specifically, as the study by Chandra et al. (2019) explain, the UAE companies were quick to notice the early trends of developing a digital business strategy and an e-commerce framework along with an online infrastructure for managing the key SCM processes. For instance, the role of blockchain technology on business development and the increase tin the quality of data management and the subsequent development of a competitive advantage based on impeccable communication have been spotted and exploited accordingly quite early by a range of UAE organizations (Hakmeh, 2017). As a result, UAE companies have gained quite substantial leverage in the realm of online economy, promptly developing a strong presence in it and gaining the attention of the target audiences (Chandra et al., 2019). Indeed, the inclusion of the blockchain technology has facilitated the smooth transfer to the cohesive and coordinated management of key organizational processes, as well as the relevant SCM tasks. Similarly, the principles of e-commerce have landed onto the UAE economic setting quite successfully, leading to an avalanche of positive changes (Hakmeh, 2017).
Finally, the increase in the levels of automation within every UAE industry is truly overwhelming. According to a 2021 report, “investment in warehouse robotics technology start-ups was $381 million in the first quarter of 2020, a 57% increase from the same quarter in 2019” (“The growth and future of e-commerce in the Middle East,” 2021). The described trend is indicative of the fact that the UAE is ready for the transfer to the digital economy, yet it is also essential to test whether the labor force is ready to accept the specified change and develop the skills needed to perform using digital tools. Furthermore, the idea of a digital workplace environment aligns with the wishes and demands currently expressed by UAE employees. Namely, a recent survey has proven that the majority of the UAE staff members are in favor of the digitalization of the workplace environment and the promotion of remote work (“Digitalisation of the workplace is a key success factor for UAE organisations according to VMware survey,” 2020). Remarkably, the report also informs that UAE employees often feel that their needs and requests are not heard properly, hence a drop in employee engagement and satisfaction in the UAE workplace setting. Namely, according to the recent report,
More than half (58.7 percent) of UAE employees surveyed don’t believe they have a voice when it comes to what digital technologies are used in the office, while 86 percent of ITDMs believe they give their employees a voice within this area. (“Digitalisation of the workplace is a key success factor for UAE organisations according to VMware survey,” 2020)
The specified problem aligns with the commentary concerning the need for employee listening and the need to view the workplace processes and organizational issues through the employee lens (Hakmeh, 2017). Specifically, in relation to the UAE context, the described approach would mean changing the existing workplace setting to introduce a greater range of digital components, tools, and options into it (Kurpayanidi, 2020). Thus, the UAE workforce will be equipped to implement key organizational tasks while staying motivated and willing to contribute to the company’s progress and economic growth (Kurpayanidi, 2020). For this reason, the transitioning to the hybrid workplace is strongly recommend as the first stage of a massive improvement of the UAE workplace environment. The current UAE policies should also be deemed as quite favorable for the promotion of the digital economy as the main venue for performing key transactions and building presence for the UAE organizations.
Culture and Environment
Arguably, not all UAE companies will be able to enter the digital economy immediately. Although the development of e-commerce frameworks is likely to be quite simple for most organizations on a technical level, gas companies will find it difficult to digitalize the key processes, including production, procurement, and other essential aspects of oil and gas mining. However, the inclusion of automation into the specified setting is expected to help to resolve the problem. Although a significant number of processes within the present-day oil and gas industry in the UAE have been automated already, some of them still require the physical presence of employees for controlling the quality of performance and the presence of errors or defects. Thus, UAE organizations will need to put greater effort into the process of digitalizing the workplace by introducing remote control tools for managing not only key data but also essential processes remotely (Pradeep et al., 2020).
Consequently, opportunities for streamlining the key processes within a company and ensuring that its every department works in unison with the rest will be created. The effect of sharing information and progress, as well as making corporate objectives fully transparent, will have a powerful effect on staff members, encouraging them to develop greater understanding of the company’s goals and their place in its corporate mechanism. As a result, employees are expected to become engaged in the company’s performance to a greater extent and show increased corporate social responsibility (Alkaabi, 2020). Furthermore, being aware of the effect that their actions produce on the overall functioning of the firm will allow employees to make decisions in the organizational setting independently. Consequently, the range and extent of responsibilities and weight that staff members will have in the company will increase. The observed change will lead to employees recognizing the value of their performance for the organization, which will, in turn, lead to an increase in their loyalty rates. Thus, the promotion of knowledge sharing and an increase in employees’ agency are strongly recommended to UAE organizations.
Finally, the relation to the UAE culture needs to be discussed when addressing the process of digitalization and the redesign of the current workplace setting to turn it into an online workplace. Specifically, the recent change in the attitudes toward workplace arrangements and employees’ flexibility in the choice of performance strategies and decision-making should be noted as a crucial trend (Pradeep et al., 2020). Specifically, to understand the significance and effects of promoting the transfer to the digital workplace setting, on must keep in mind that the UAE used to have very rigid standards for workplace culture and organizational behaviors (Pradeep et al., 2020). However, the recent changes in the global perception of the workplace as the area of innovation and initiative have facilitated the shift toward a much more flexible environment (Alkaabi, 2020). As a result, the development of a digital workplace environment may align with the concept of a positive change in the organizational setting. However, it may also cause concerns among managers that are used to the rigidity of the traditional approach and be seen as a challenge to the traditional UAE corporate culture.
For this reason, the integration of the principles that will eventually guide all of the UAE organizations to the environment of the digital economy will imply pushing the envelope of the current organizational culture and introducing greater flexibility into the workplace setting. Specifically, apart from the increase in staff members’ agency mentioned above, opportunities for updating key competencies and gaining additional knowledge and skills should be offered to staff members. Employees should be able to choose the training options that the company will offer to them, deciding which skills will be most useful to them in the context of the digital economy. As a result, staff members will gain the required skills and information while also developing appreciation for the company’s efforts and loyalty to it.
Moreover, an assessment of the current UAE digital market will show that freelancers have very few opportunities in it. Indeed, studies indicate that freelance experts have very few opportunities of being hired since most organizations prefer to consider hiring full-time staff, viewing the latter type of recruits as more trustworthy and reliable (Alkaabi, 2020). Specifically, a range of UAE company leaders consider freelance to be a poor basis to build employee engagement and loyalty on since it does not involve the creation of any significant legal or cultural ties within an organization (Jafarova, 2020). On the one hand, there is a grain of truth in the statement above. Indeed, freelance does suggest that staff members have greater flexibility and are less dependent on an organization that hires them, spending a lesser amount of time on engaging in the understanding of the corporate culture (Pradeep et al., 2020). However, on the other hand, the effects of being a full-time employee on the development of corporate loyalty or engagement are also questionable (Jafarova, 2020). Namely, the characteristics above have been proven to be reinforced by a wisely selected HRM strategy instead of the amount of time spent with the organization and the frequency of implementing corporate tasks and projects (Jafarova, 2020). Therefore, it could be argued that a well-designed and smartly implemented corporate culture and philosophy will create the workplace setting that will make even freelance employees develop loyalty and corporate social responsibility (Alkaabi, 2020). Thus, the present-day corporate culture of the UAE appears to be quite suitable for becoming the background in which the creation of the digital workplace should start.
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