My team and I just hosted another Future of Work Forum in NYC for members of The Future of Work Community (a global brand council where companies explore how the workplace is changing). We were joined by some brilliant speakers and guests including the CHRO of AARP, Chief People Officer of Cisco, CIO of Xerox, CHRO of Pandora, Head of Innovation at Sanofi, CIO of IBM, EVP of HR at Staples, Brian Robertson (the founder of holacracy), CEO of Frog Design, and many others. We explored many topics around the future of work including but not limited to freelancers, corporate culture, technology and collaboration, people analytics, leadership, change management, holacracy and much more. I wanted to share the top eight learnings from the event.
Here’s a picture with some of the people in attendance.
1. Organizations must focus on designing employee experiences for the people that work there. The mentality of leaders must shift from creating a place where they assume people need to show up, to creating a place where people want to show up. Entire teams are being created to focus on ways to great what the CHRO of Linkedin (Pat Wadors) calls, beautiful employee experiences.
2. All of the attendees and executives at the event agreed that having purpose at work is one the things that employees want the most but it’s also one of the things that organizations struggle with being able to create/offer. How can they create a sense of purpose for tens or hundreds of thousands of employees of employees with different needs?
3. People analytics is a huge topic but still early as far as adoption goes. Top executives are thinking about how to use things like wearables, big data, smart employee badges, etc but they are by no means introduced across organizations yet, but small are experimenting with small pilots. Executives are still trying to understand what data is available, what they can do with it, and insights they can glean.
4. HR and IT are building stronger relationships than ever before. One cannot function properly without the other. It’s forcing business functions to better understand technology requirements and constraints and IT functions to better understand business needs. Together these two roles have the power to drive great change and they will be spearheading many initiatives around the future of work.
5. The future of work is a big topic and organizations are seeing change happen across the enterprise in every department, in every geography, and across every function. Innovation, customer service, management/leadership, HR, marketing, etc are all being forced to change. The challenge here is how to scale this change and how to keep every function moving at the same pace so nobody gets left behind.
6. The employee/employer relationship is forever altered. Every executive was talking about and exploring the freelancer economy, giving employees the opportunity to have more than one job inside the company, shrinking employee tenure, and rules and regulations around all of these things. None of the business leaders are assuming that the relationship today is the same as the work relationship that existed event 5-10 years ago.
7. Asking the right questions is more important than having the answers. Every single executive at the event started off their conversations or sessions with “we don’t have all the answers, we aren’t perfect, but here’s what we think or have learned.” This goes to show that there isn’t a single approach for every company. Everyone is thrust into this rapidly changing world and we are all trying to figure things out together. Instead of trying to find the best solutions start with asking the right and relevant questions.
8. Organizations must truly think of themselves as laboratories and not factories. This means testing ideas and running experiments frequently and consistently. The only way to figure out what works and what doesn’t is to test, learn, and repeat. I can’t tell you how many times I heard leaders say the phrases “we should try that” or “we should give that a shot.” This is the mentality that organizations need. Test, experiment, and do so quickly and frequently.
The coming years are going to be very exciting and all of the attendees at The Future of Work Forum agree that the coming changes mean that there is enormous opportunity for the organizations that are willing to challenge convention and think differently about how work gets done. Many of the attendees contributed their perspectives on the future of work in a recent ebook which is available as a free download that anyone wants it. I’d love to hear from you, what changes are you seeing at your organization, do these 8 things resonate with you?
Jacob Morgan is a keynote speaker, author (most recently of The Future of Work), and futurist. To have Jacob speak at your event, to get access to his videos, podcasts and articles, or to subscribe to his newsletter you can visit TheFutureOrganization.