In this second part of the article, Dr Ruth Massie and Professor Emma Parry discuss the impact of the cyber age on the workplace and the importance of developing leadership qualities.
In a recent live online panel event hosted by IEDP, three leading experts from Cranfield School of Management, Professor Emma Parry, Associate Professor Ruth Massie and Professor Michael Dickmann, shared their insights into the evolving workplace—from AI technologies, to new career trajectories, flexible working, new hard and soft skillsets, sustainability, cyber challenges, global diversity and more—and reflected on the people management strategies needed by organizations of the future.
While part 1 of this article reflected on the changing societal context and some considerations when going global, in this second part we take a look at the workplace consequences of the cyber age and discuss leadership qualities in the future workplace.
Workplace consequences of the cyber age
For Ruth Massie it is self-evident that many of the trends and projections described above will need underpinning with more highly developed cyber capabilities for organizations.
Massie addresses the significant management challenges inherent in the cyber age—as opposed to the technical issues—the age of AI, machine learning, information technology, remote working and virtual reality, and cyberattacks.
“What we are very good at in organizations is doing technical policies around cyber,” suggests Massie, “What I think we should be doing very much more of is thinking about creating a Cyber Ethics Policy. Thinking about, what does that mean for data privacy and confidentiality, in terms of the organization, its employees and clients? What about a fairness and equity element to that policy as well?
Cyber has a great deal to offer organizations, but they need clear policies to extract the benefits effectively and equitably. For example, in the area of recruitment, AI can undoubtedly help in the selection from larger international candidate pools—however, unless the data analysis is extremely carefully tuned, AI has tended so far to provide biased results.
If an organization is encouraging home working it needs to consider issues such as digital poverty—can an employee, particularly gig workers, afford the decent computer and internet connection that you are expecting them to have? Additionally, there has been a recent explosion in productivity management systems, including location tracking and camera access. Is this a reasonable way to go or is it an invasion of personal space? Is it better to build, and rely, on trust?
“We also need to think about things like IT support,” continues Massie, “if people can work anywhere, anytime, are you expecting your IT teams to cover longer support hours? Is it the fault of the employee if they can't do their job for a day because they can’t get hold of support because of different time zones?”
Then there is the question of cyber security in an environment where there is considerable remote working. It is important that home workers have access to, and clear policies from, IT experts to reduce the likelihood of breaches.
Finally, as data is a central driver of the cyber age, organizations need to think, not just about its storage, usage and security, but also about the legal implications of using data—particularly when used globally across different jurisdictions.
Enduring leadership qualities in the future workplace
While there are some new leadership skills needed for the new environment, around working remotely and managing cross cultural teams, Parry was keen to stress that the essential qualities of good leadership remain unchanged. “Ongoing trends may be accelerating, but we are not in a completely new environment,” she asserts.
“We still need things like vision, clarity, and effective communication from our leaders. We might need higher levels of ability to deal with complexity, flexibility and agility, and stronger resilience. Yes, things are changing, but they've been changing for a long time. There is a real danger that we try to throw everything out and start again, when actually there's a lot that we've learned about leadership, which is still valid.”
Did you miss the live webinar? To watch the recording please use the link below and benefit from the full, in-depth discussions between Emma, Ruth and Michael.
About the Authors
Professor Emma Parry is Professor of Human Resource Management and Head of Changing World of Work Group at Cranfield School of Management. She is a recognised expert in Human Resource Management (HRM) and plays a leading role in a number of global research projects in this area. These include Cranet, a worldwide network of over 40 business schools that conducts comparative HRM research, and 5C, a global research project involving around 30 academic institutions, examining cultural and age differences in attitudes towards careers; and acting as Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Human Resource Management (IJHRM).
Dr Ruth Massie is a Senior Lecturer in Cyber Resilience Leadership at Cranfield School of Management. Ruth’s research area is organisational resilience with a primary research focuses on understanding how Board level Directors engage with information, contextualise it, and incorporate it into their decision making. This is particularly in the context of cyber and how Board’s view the complexity, and risk, in relation to their organisations. Her secondary research focus is on tertiary education as a profession. Ruth’s teaching focuses on both Cyber Leadership and Business Continuity.
Professor Michael Dickmann has several years of work experience with major consultancies and companies. He has a first class honours degree in Economics from London University and an MSc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from LSE. Michael has conducted a variety of consulting and research assignments with cutting edge multinational organisations mostly from the financial, automotive, telecommunications, chemical, electrical engineering and electronics industries. He has also consulted humanitarian agencies, government and the United Nations.