A New Generation of Digital Leaders Must Emerge for Businesses to Succeed in the Remote Work Environment

While the pandemic has undoubtedly taken a hit on the labor market, it has also demonstrated the resilience of the workforce and its ability to adapt to a remote work environment. Workers are reporting increased levels of productivity across the board, even without the resources of an office environment. However, the pandemic has also accelerated a digital transformation that has brought on new operational challenges, and has underscored the need for businesses to have a strong digital leader in place.

The COVID-19 crisis, in conjunction with an already existing digital revolution, has forced companies across almost every industry to leverage the latest technology and transition to a work-from-home setting. Two-thirds of U.S. employees are now working from home in some capacity due to the spread of the virus. And studies have found that this new digital environment has the potential to increase the overall productivity of employees by up to 13 percent.

Yet, while organizations have been forced by the pandemic to evolve and adopt the latest technology to complete business operations, they are also facing new challenges that require advanced skills and entirely new job roles. Research shows that 70 percent of digital transformation initiatives in the last year relied too heavily on investments in technology and, in turn, are not expected to reach their stated goals. In other words, employing workers who can navigate into the unknown trajectory of the digital age is just as important as investing in the technology itself.

Randstad recently identified five competencies of successful digital leaders to help businesses elevate these individuals and ultimately embrace digitization. The ability to keep employees connected and engaged was the most common thread. Among others were the ability to pioneer the use of the latest digital tools, encourage collaboration and teambuilding, drive innovation among employees, and effectively manage risks in the digital age.

These skills will be critical, as surveys  show that a majority of organizations believe that collaboration between IT and business will be vital to the success of a company’s digital transformation. As the pandemic persists and a permanent remote future becomes more likely, more companies will be in need of cross-functional leaders that can spearhead the transition into an entirely new working environment.

Businesses that take advantage of these unmet needs will be well-positioned to reap the benefits across every facet of their business operations. Take collaboration: 80 percent of employees believe that teamwork is more valuable and successful than individual work. Digital leaders can help bridge this gap in the new “work-from-home” environment by encouraging employees to collaborate across digital boundaries and barriers.

And if company culture weren’t already paramount, studies show that figuring out how to translate a company’s culture digitally is key to fostering a successful transformation. Digital leaders play an integral part in driving a culture of innovation, learning and continuous improvement. Having this type of leadership in place to streamline online operations, train employees working from home, and maintain company morale can help to bridge the digital divide that often leaves employees feeling isolated.

The digital revolution is now, and businesses of every size and stage of development are in desperate need of employees who can help shape a digitally palpable environment. The success of a company is dependent on the ability to overcome the challenges and barriers that now confine the virtual workplace. Digital adoption must start at the top, and the most successful companies will be those that have strong digital leaders steering the ship.


Alisia Genzler serves as Randstad Technologies’ president and chief client officer, where she oversees all sales teams and manages sales performance across strategic, major, key and emerging account segments, bringing strategy to major and emerging client accounts and is responsible for expanding the company’s staffing, permanent and solutions portfolios at the client level.

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