• Dylan Wingrove

Workforce 4.0: The Leader, Manager & Employee

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

As we celebrate workers day in South Africa and in many countries around the world, it seems fit to examine what the 4.0 workforce will look like. The Fourth Industrial Revolution brings with it a wave of changes in various technologies, including how organizations view and we interact with them.

Often times, when speaking of transformational technology or the 4th Industrial Revolution, organizations fear that this means replacing workers with technology when it is in fact about empowering employees through it.

There is no denying that this revolution, much like industrial revolutions of the past will dramatically change the way we work, but it is up to us as employees, managers & leaders to ensure we embrace the change, creating a strong workforce and bright future.

The Worker

Less Travel, More Virtual

The spread of COVID-19 has given us a glimpse into what life in the 4th Industrial Revolution may look like with almost every business scrambling to find work from home solutions. It will come as no surprise when many companies choose a remote work policy following the end of the pandemic.

A rise in communication tools such as Slack, Teams, & Zoom, which on March 23rd alone was downloading some 1.3 Million times according to Apptopia, is crucial to ensuring transparency while working from home. With a rise in virtual reality, communication may become even more immersive with tools such as SPACES, a Virtual Reality API that can plug into your favorite video conferencing app to create a virtual meeting.

While the technology still has some way to go and has obvious drawbacks in requiring each member to have a VR headset to enjoy the meeting, the future seems promising.

The New Team

The new team is no longer one dimensional or filled with individuals from the same department but rather a cross-functional team made up with members from all over the organization. According to the MIT-Deloitte Study “Accelerating Digital Innovation Inside & Out” 83% of digitally maturing companies make use of cross-functional teams.

These teams provide agility and a wealth of different perspectives when coming up with new ideas, furthermore, these teams are usually project-specific which allows for an increased diffusion of ideas when the member returns to their assigned department. Cross-functional teams also see an increase in autonomy, with leaders and managers providing an environment for these teams to thrive, and letting the team get to work, making their assessments on the team rather than the individual.

The Manager

Leading The New Team

In order for the new cross-functional teams to work well it’s essential that the manager create a strong culture and direction for the team. In order to achieve this, the manager needs to increase their communication and encourage collaborations with team members from different departments as noted by MIT-Delloite.

The manager must also ensure that they’re creating an environment in which the team can thrive. This means ensuring resources are available, including time to communicate with the manager. As teams are given more autonomy, a high level of trust is needed between employees & managers furthermore when leading large teams, it may be necessary to ensure performance through team transparency tools such as Yaxxa’s Y-Trac.

These tools allow for complete transparency between both parties by monitoring active, passive and inactive screentime. Y-Trac is a useful tool when making personnel decisions, allowing managers to understand who is making a valuable contribution and creates a sense of responsibility among team members with transparent leader boards.

The Leader

Clear communication and collaboration

Strong leadership from organization execs is paramount during the digital transformation and a clear vision must be effectively communicated to the entire company.

Leaders during this time need to prioritize collaborative partnerships with internal and external partners, MIT-Deloitte shows that 51% of organizations agree that external partnerships are vital to digital innovation. These partnerships are non-traditional in the sense that they are formed on relationships rather than contracts and it's one of the reasons why the organization needs to ensure ethics and governance are a top priority.

Good Governance, a tool, not a roadblock

The rapid speed of transformation, teams being given more flexibility and encouraging collaboration through relational contracts would be impossible without good governance and ethics to guide your organization.

“People think brakes are there to make a car slow down when, in fact the purpose of brakes is that they enable cars to go fast. The same is true for organizational ethics. If you have those in place, the organization can move faster because you are confident in the mechanism that will keep you from crashing if you run into something unexpected.”- Greg Baxter, Chief Digital Officer, MetLife

A common mistake leaders make is thinking that existing policies will suffice. Often these legacy policies don’t cover situations the 4.0 workforce will encounter, creating delays and dependency from employees.


As we move further into the 4th Industrial Revolution, organizations will need to anticipate change and move with speed to ensure they don't get left behind. Organizations with clear communication, collaboration and governance will be in stronger positions to respond to the change. Teams must be encouraged to work autonomously in cross-functional teams, this will aid in the creation and diffusion of new ideas, but managers must ensure that they provide clear goals, sufficient resources for the team to thrive and a culture of collaboration.

BhekaDala Digital is your Fourth Industrial Revolution partner, helping organizations and cities throughout Africa & The Middle East make their digital transformational ideas reality. We've partnered up with industry leaders such as WinWin International to ensure that the relevant onboarding, communication strategies and training are in place to successfully implement and scale your 4.0 workforce.

If you have a project in mind or simply just want to learn more about what the 4th Industrial Revolution is, make sure to join our mailing list and follow us on social media for the latest in transformational technology.

How is your organization preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

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