The Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently stated: “leadership styles have a time and a place.” The research suggests that many traditional styles of management cannot deal with ambiguity or opportunity – conformity and repetition is expected. This is precisely the opposite of what so many companies today are facing as new market entrants digitally disrupt their entire marketplace and new technologies shake the foundations for everyone.
This is an interesting topic for me because I’m mainly focused on Customer Experience (CX) strategies and how Work At Home Agents (WAHA) can play a role in delivering great customer service. I have spent a long time explaining the concept of WAHA and people are finally starting to get it, but I think there is a new wave of change coming and WAHA creates a natural advantage.
Think about it this way. What are the main effects of digital disruption
on a company or industry?
- Ambiguity about how things should work in future
- New opportunities and potentially more efficient ways
- Increased innovation and experimentation
This can be seen when a large incumbent notices that start-ups are
stealing market share or when a larger traditional brand decides to launch a
new service. As the market changes it can be disconcerting. Almost every
manager knows this because digital platforms, the mobile Internet, and social
networks are in the process of digitally disrupting almost every industry at
present. It’s a cliché, but right now change really is the only constant.
If your company is agile and ready for change then you are well placed
to seize these new opportunities, rather than fearing disruption. However, if
you are managing people in a traditional environment with a rigid hierarchy and
departmental silos then, as the HBR research suggests, you may now be out of
I have often explained the direct benefits of WAHA. It allows access to
a wider pool of talent, it increases productivity, it reduces the need for
office space, it promotes employee retention, and it increases customer
satisfaction. All those are benefits that can be demonstrated and measured, but
there are some additional indirect benefits that I believe will become more
important in the near future.
Building a WAHA strategy into your business creates a stronger focus on
agility. A different management style is needed to work with remote team
members, one that is more trusting and inclusive. All these benefits of
management style and team bonding are important for companies that are
undergoing rapid change, or even a complete market disruption.
Using a WAHA strategy is not a direct answer to digital disruption, but
it builds the right type of management style and teamwork to handle ambiguity
and change. If you are in an industry that is facing rapid change at present
(and who isn’t) then this is a seriously positive side effect of WAHA that is
worth thinking about.