Back in the noughties, when all companies tried to lure the best coders to work for them, they would offer all kinds of extra benefits such as Coca Cola in every meeting room or pizza parties every Friday. In the beginning of the twenty-tens, most of the companies outsourced the coding work to cheaper countries, and the Coca Cola fizz went flat and were replaced by break areas with espresso/cappuccino machines, where the leaders of international teams of developers met for a little chat before the next conf call.
After outsourcing the so-called commodity IT Services, we are now seeing a new type of insourcing taking place, as companies need to get new digital solutions quickly to the market. This requires an in-depth understanding of the company’s business, which is not so easy to adopt if you have your team working from an off-shore location.
Therefore, a lot of companies have started to build new innovative teams in-house – not just with anyone who can code, but with the top-notch ones: data scientists, business intelligence analysts, database developers, data security administrators, etc. They, in turn take it for granted that the company has normal employee benefits such as lunch vouchers, support for sports and culture, barista-style coffee machines, and so on. In addition, on top of being rare species and expensive, they also want something more from the company they work with: a dynamic working culture, which embraces innovative and agile ways of working.
While it is quite easy to provide the necessities that you can buy with money: the coolest coffee making machines, employee benefit cards, leased cars or bicycles, changing the company culture is a tricky and sensitive thing. If most of the employees are still relying on old-school ways of working, such as having long (sit-down, face-to-face) meetings with too many participants, using archaic tools for communication and document sharing, and who see in transformation primarily things they will lose instead of things they would get, being the only one representing the new culture and embracing change as a good thing, is a hard place to be.
To attract and keep this new workforce, companies might have decided to let these groups work at first as separate, isolated teams and then, when succeeding in what they were doing, the rest of the organization would start following the example. This approach may be a good method for the companies, who still have a strong market position in their existing business and the digital disruption has not yet hit them. However, for the companies that have already experienced the digital disruption, or that have been too slow to start the change early enough, the change needs to be faster.
Whilst the resources are scarce and the biggest asset of a company are their employees who know the company and its business, smart companies choose the strategy to invest in their people, and make sure that they keep up with the change and adapt to the future requirements. Perhaps the current employees cannot be turned into data scientists over a night, yet the existing know-how and necessary knowledge they possess can be upskilled, and new ways of working can reign over the old ones. When the company proves the willingness to invest in people and removes the fear of change, there is an opportunity that the employees will take the initiative and drive the transformation. And that is where the magic starts to happen.
Coca-Cola machines, cappuccino-makers, or after work parties with fried grasshoppers are a nice and fun addition to everyday work to get people with different likings and interests to bond. However, as the ongoing digital transformation will reshape our working life completely, companies that ensure that their working culture and employees are enjoying the transformation will be the ones that continue to flourish.
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About the author
Katri Kolesnik is the Head of Sofigate’s Business Technology Academy. She has over 20 years of experience in helping individuals and organizations to upskill their capabilities and keep up with the ever-evolving technology landscape.