The Future of Work is Human: Top Five Trends to Watch

While everyone is rushing to make sense of the new unfolding future of work, there’s one overarching observation that stands out to Daggerwing Group: the future of work is more human. Never before has work focused so much on human needs – from physical safety, to mental health, to work-life balance. As people are literally letting their hair down and sharing their personal space on Zoom, everyone is realizing that professional and personal selves are becoming “one-self” at work.

Daggerwing focuses on the human side of business transformation, so let’s use a human lens to look at the five key trends for the future of work that leaders are grappling with now:

1. CULTURE IS SHIFTING TOWARDS EQUALITY

Prior to COVID, a sense of community was heavily defined by shared physical space. Now, it’s palpably defined by emotional connectedness. This is causing companies to rethink the way they approach culture. Once highly dependent on in-person interactions and physical office spaces, culture is now an equal playing field. Given how many companies are announcing they will be remote for the rest of the year (with implications beyond that), culture and engagement must be reimagined in a location-agnostic way. Now everyone, whether working at HQ or at a satellite office, has the ability to participate in the events and activities that were once geographically dependent. Virtual working is proving to be the great equalizer. When done right, silos can dissolve, and new relationships can form – it’s a fresh start.

For more information on where cultures are shining and how cultures will need to strengthen as we enter into the future of work, join our webinar on July 9th by registering here.

2. TEAM VALUE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER

COVID-19 has had a major impact on the way we live and work – a change that would have taken years to happen, has occurred in the span of a couple of months. With businesses rethinking the way they work to survive, and hopefully thrive, under heightened economic pressure, it’s more essential than ever for company functions and individuals to know the value they offer to the broader organization.

“Knowing your value” may feel lofty, but let’s break it down to a few simple statements that everyone – from executives to employees – should be able to answer from a customer-centric perspective:

  • We are experts at____
  • We are different because____
  • The value we bring to the broader organization is____
  • Without us, the broader organization could not____

Leaders are learning that finding a way to talk about why their function matters and delivering on that is more important than ever in unpredictable times.

3. THERE IS NOW “ONE SELF” TO BRING TO WORK

The coronavirus pandemic has caused collective hurt that will take time to recover from. One sliver of hope is the inadvertent de-stigmatization of talking about emotions and self-care at work. Empathy and psychological safety have never seized center stage in corporate work-life like they do today. We’re advising leaders to alleviate employee fear and anxiety with more frequent check-ins with employees – providing focused feedback, ensuring clarity in what’s expected, and helping employees to focus on their strengths.  We’re also encouraging leaders to model behaviors of being open about mental health and encouraging teams to support and empathize with each other

It’s hard, and then it becomes refreshing, to bring our “one self” to work. We are humans with utmost professionalism, as well as varying emotions and a demanding life beyond work.

4. WORK WILL NEVER BE THE SAME

If you’ve tuned into our webinar series on Rethinking the Future of Work, you already know that this has been our prediction. Now that we’ve gone through the initial learning curve of how to stay connected and collaborative with our colleagues through online platforms, we’ve entered into the next normal. People have gone from focusing on the “return to work” to thinking about what the future of work looks like – while being transparent about not having all of the answers now. There is no “going back to normal” because normal no longer exists. There is only moving forward into a completely different world of work. We’re seeing these implications of change play out in a couple of different ways. From the possible 4-day workweek to the hybrid in-office / at-home working model, flexible working is certainly here to stay for the long-term.

5. PEOPLE ARE RETHINKING WHAT IT TAKES TO ATTRACT TALENT

Google recently announced employees can no longer expense food or use extra funds on perks like fitness or donating to charities. These perks, like free food and fancy offices, once differentiated employers in the hiring process and are certainly being missed by current and future employees. Without these benefits, it begs the question – how does a company differentiate itself in the war for talent?

Once the dust has settled, companies will need to re-evaluate their talent strategy to include a grounded approach to wellbeing initiatives that truly address employees’ mental, physical, and financial needs. Through this pandemic, it’s become even more clear that employees’ wellbeing impacts productivity. Enhancing wellbeing, once considered a “nice to have” is now a “must-do” so people can focus on what matters most and perform at their best in these times.

Imogen Yates, Managing Consultant

Imogen Yates, Managing Consultant

Imogen Yates is a Managing Consultant at Daggerwing Group in New York. She is passionate about bringing employees onboard to drive successful organizational change and using practical and human-centered strategies to do so. Outside of work, Imogen finds her zen doing pilates and eating pizza. She also follows a lot of animals on Instagram, including an alpaca.

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