future of work
The pandemic permanently shifted the way we work. The future of work is a widely-discussed topic that gives many business leaders ample opportunity to reevaluate their systems, processes, and procedures to see what is working—and what isn’t. After nearly three decades navigating businesses during uncertain times, I’ve learned that leaders must strike a balance between what their employees want and what is best for the company overall.
Companies made significant shifts last year in the midst of the unpredictable and unprecedented.
I made my company’s hybrid work environments hybrid long before it became a trend, and I learned a lot along the way.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many leaders weren’t sure how to adjust their business models effectively. Executives had to pivot strategies, accommodate an ever-changing set of rules and regulations, and combat employees’ uncertainty about the future and security of their roles. The future of work is constantly evolving, but there are a few core principles and trends you can utilize as a leader to set you and your employees up for success in an uncertain economy.
If your company is 100% remote, find ways to connect with your employees personally and professionally. As employees begin new jobs in remote work environments, we need to keep in mind that they’ve never actually met their coworkers in person. The workplace used to be where people came together, in person, to effectively collaborate. This is a key aspect of office work that we’re currently missing out on. For those with remote workstyles, initiate ways for coworkers to connect with one another in Slack or on a company Zoom call—and make it interesting. There are ample amounts of digital tools available to create connections in your workplace, whether at home or in person.
The way we work cannot be “one size fits all”. Meaning, some industries find higher rates of productivity from in-person work (such as those in the financial sector), while others are thriving in a remote environment (like tech companies). So what’s the real difference between their success in differing methodologies? Leaders must correctly evaluate whether or not their company needs an asynchronous or more synchronous work environment. Lots of companies benefit more from the energy and spontaneous collaboration of synchronous work, while others function well asynchronously. It’s all about what works best for you and your employees.
The future of work is changing the way generations behave in the workplace and what they want out of their jobs. You’ve probably heard of the term, “The Great Reshuffle”, and it’s true—people (especially millennials) are leaving their roles at lightning speed for better offers, and sometimes with no other options lined up. Trends in differing age groups will define how companies approach hiring and onboarding for various roles. For example, studies indicate that Gen Z actually prefers hybrid work over a fully remote environment. They are relatively new to the workforce and greatly benefit from the mentorship and side-by-side collaboration of an in-person environment.
Make sure you’re recognizing your employees’ efforts. In an outcome-based environment such as this, it’s easy to see the end product and not all of the work that’s gone into it. Data sets show that remote workers are less likely to receive a raise, promotion, or mentorship than those who work at in-person positions. This information isn’t new to the pandemic, as many of these studies occurred long before 2020. Working whenever you want from the comfort of your home seems great until the lines blur between work and personal time and you find yourself checking emails from your sofa at 10 pm. Remote work offers less community and more of a work-horse mentality. It’s important for leaders to be aware of this shift and adjust their behaviors to make sure their employees are adequately supported and compensated.
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