The shape of the workplace changes in real time.
With a sense of normality on the horizon, many ask themselves: “What does” normal “still mean?” It’s clear that work, healthcare, and finance aren’t going back to where they were in 2019, but neither are they going to look like 2020. Many venture capitalists and tech entrepreneurs are predicting a lasting radical change in the way people work, while the biggest employers in the Landes have a more nuanced vision of a post-COVID world.
With so many changes every day, it is impossible to determine exactly what the future of work will be in the near future. However, by speaking to executives who hold the keys to the largest and most influential workforce in the country, one can see what the future of work will not be in 2021. Joe Bosch, former DIRECTV CHRO, said, “Anyone who thinks that the next six months are going to be easier than the last six months. “For better or for worse, it certainly won’t be what many expect.
1. The future of work is not 100% away.
The promise of fully shared work includes the ability to live anywhere and still work for the company of your dreams. The reality of being away is far less glamorous and the long-term effects on team health, work product, career paths, and profitability are unknown. While it is impossible to ignore the benefits of flexible working hours and being in control of one’s own schedule, the need for social connection, collaboration and creativity is undeniable.
The need for safety has led many executives to long-term commitments to new ways of working, but Mala Singh, Chief People Officer of Electronic Arts, predicts, “Companies that have made bold statements about first-time proliferation during the pandemic could its course reversal in 3-5 years. “Instead, employers are moving towards an upside-down workplace model that is a mix of individual work at pace and location, coupled with office collaboration and creative work. This model enables the most of flexible work environments with the magic of personal work.
2. The future of work is not about making bold statements about diversity, equity and inclusion.
Diversity, Justice and Inclusion (DEI) took center stage in 2020 as the country finally got to grips with the dire reality of the black experience in America in both everyday life and the workplace context. Many employers responded with donations, bold statements, and long-term commitments to change. However, Diane Gherson, former IBM CHRO, aptly stated, “The DEI conversation is here to stay and it won’t be easy as all the simple things have already been done.”
There are now significant multiannual budgets dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. This will be a pivotal year to use them effectively and to do more than just walk around potential pipelines. “Now, more than ever, it is a question of considering the diversity dimension in every business decision. How valuable is it for the product, for the design? How can diversity help you survive and win in the market? “Said John Renfro, former Disney and HP CHRO.
3. The future of work does not avoid political discussions.
Political language is not protected by the first change in a work environment, but where is that line drawn if your work environment is your own home? Whether it is employees who strike, unionize, or participate in political protests, the boundaries between personal political views and those of the employer are inseparable. “Companies are now learning that it is almost impossible to separate your company from the outside world,” said Bosch.
“When you can’t rely on the leaders outside, people look to the leaders inside to answer and we feel that responsibility,” said Mala Singh. Events over the past year have highlighted the changing relationship between personal and work identities and the employer’s responsibility to listen to and adapt to the views of its employees. As much as many leaders wish they could lower their heads and exercise their power, the only way to find answers to the new role of politics in the workplace is to face the problems head on.
4. The future of work is not cost conscious in terms of employee benefits.
Although last year’s economic shock froze new spending, it also unlocked new data demonstrating the impact of welfare benefits on the workforce. Whether it’s nursing, mental health or financial wellbeing, “We need to improve the social fabric of support for employees,” said Hayagreeva “Huggy” Rao, Atholl McBean Professor of Organizational Behavior, GSB, Stanford University.
Even if this means higher costs per employee in the short term, the effects on engagement, productivity and retention are undeniable. “It is imperative that the CEO and board member ensure that employees and their families have access to the resources and expertise they need to support their spiritual wellbeing. There is a lot at stake and employers are working hard to get it right, ”said Michael Ross, former Visa CHRO.
5. The future of work is not about recruiting new talent.
Millions of jobs were lost in the midst of the pandemic, and the unfortunate reality is that many will not return. It will be tempting for employers to simply revert to previous roles, but the application of new technology in the name of safety has catalyzed automation across all professions and industries. Instead, the employer’s focus shifts inward by taking stock of existing talent and figuring out how to develop them into the talent they need. “A static inventory of skills is like a static inventory of products. That should be unthinkable, “said Diane Gherson, former IBM CHRO. “We’re moving from the concept of jobs to the concept of work where people have to be redefined from resumes to skills.”
This increases the need for better data that connects people, skills and the core business. Jolen Andersen, CHRO at BNY Mellon, said, “We need to reverse the order in which things are done in relation to the workforce. First we need to get involved, collaborate, evaluate and then train. ”
While technology appears to be the primary source of these challenges, it is also an important part of a more productive path forward. Renfro emphasized, “We can now focus on creating a more positive employee experience by strengthening opportunities for more interesting and impactful work and developing competitive skills for their future careers.”
The future of work is now.
If history books are being written, 2021 is seen as a critical time in transition to a more tech-driven economy. Although the pandemic accelerated the transition to a more digital, distributed, and data-driven future of work, employers have the opportunity to shape the path for their employees. However, in order to find a promising way forward, it is necessary to acknowledge the current state of work, which is not optimistic. The challenge ahead is well worth the fight as it will determine the well-being of the next generation and beyond.