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New Work Order: The Future Of Work Is Here

2022 is proving to be a year of change. What was 100% WFH has given way to a return to the office and a prevalence of hybrid work scenarios. This has led to some organizations adopting a wholly work from anywhere approach. It’s led to many- perhaps the majority of organizations- to adopt a 1-3 day in-office model. And it’s led to one CEO to demand all workers back in the office, all of the time.

Though an enigmatic communicator that CEO (Elon Musk) might be, a March Microsoft survey showcased the fact that 50% of leaders say they want workers back in the office 5 days a week. The same survey found that 52% or workers favor a hybrid or fully remote approach.

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So, yes- 2022 still has some work to do in figuring itself out. We’ve clearly not yet definitively evolved to what’s next. That said, some patterns have emerged. IBM’s Jim Newswanger who is featured not only on The Road To TMRE October 27th Gathering but at TMRE itself, has highlighted what he’s seeing in the moment:

Research focus remains constant, though methodologies have changed

  • Topics of study remain constant- brand trackers, internally and externally facing surveys, etc.
  • Methodologies, specifically around contact have become more virtual
  • Both internal and external team collaboration have become, ‘virtual first’

For the shift to a virtual approach, Newswanger notes that not only have the contact and collaboration methods become more virtual- they remain more virtual. And there doesn’t seem to be any notable pattern showcasing a shift back.

Talent work-life balance has become a focus for everyone

  • While deliverables were not necessarily impacted, the means of delivering results have shifted

The impression here is that the way people’s lives work and the work people deliver has changed. And that generally, management has taken an evolved approach to work-life balance.  But there seems to be a general pattern of shift towards more in-office activity. And at the moment, macroeconomics – stubborn inflation, a possibly softening labor market- seem to be favoring the momentum of that shift.

Disrupted supply chains propel business model transformation

  • Healthcare and telemedicine were reinvented within weeks
  • Travel, Hospitality & Entertainment had significant shutdowns
  • Retail had marked market share shift and delivery innovation
  • Construction and real estate have had massive spikes and troughs
  • Automotive and technology industries are still experiencing a chip shortage

Every industry was affected in some way and new questions must be asked about how business models must transform in the short-term, mid-term and long-term. Supply chain disruption is still current. Consumer behavior has changed and remains in a state of dynamic evolution. The goal must be to continue to transform in the present to outpace the past.

Working in virtual groups is not going away

  • Knowing how to work in virtual groups both internally and externally
  • Comfort with video is necessary

Not only had communication become more virtual over the past two years, not only does communication remain more virtual. The indication here is that, moving forward, communication will remain more virtual. That pattern can be – at the least- attributed to both efficiency and cost savings.

Embedded data science skills are a must in any team

  • While advances in data science integration into market research were prevalent, the pandemic has metastasized the unifying of analytics and insights (itself, a key topic at TMRE)

The way Newswanger relays this information as “a tidal wave of changes and advances in data science,” which must be respected by the way that market research teams are constructed moving forward.

These are all cogent thoughts by an experienced thought leader in the space. That said, none of the above should strike fellow colleagues as all that surprising. But any one part of the above, if not dealt with appropriately- or worse, ignored- can put an organization on a path fraught with danger.

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