Emerging Signals On The Future Of Work

While the world continues to navigate the challenges of a global pandemic, discussion of a post-pandemic future is ramping. The future of work is a dominant piece of that post-pandemic discussion. There are still more questions than answers, but the signals are flying. Three recent articles focused on distinct pieces of this future: Performance, Identity Economy, and Making a Hybrid Work model. The article on performance highlights the pandemic as catalyst and accelerant. The need to rethink how we view performance was clear pre-pandemic – but mostly not acted upon. The events of the last 15 months may be driving action.

With these seismic shifts it is imperative that organizations rethink how success is evaluated and implement an employee performance model that is focused on results, not “chair time.”

Carolyn Moore – We need to talk about how the new way to work is about outcomes, not hours

Forced to adopt different ways of working, some of the myths around productivity and performance have been shattered. The article provides four tips on creating a flourishing workplace: set specific metrics, encourage open and empathetic communication, avoid continuous check-ins, and provide actionable feedback. Explore the article for more detail. Another signal from the article on identity economy caught my attention. The discussion on Purpose dates back several years, providing another example of COVID-19 serving as an accelerant. The article asks a key question: do you want to make money, meaning, or both?

The annual town hall covers the people, product, and profits, as well as the company’s ongoing mission to change the world. Without that crucial last piece, how else will employees know that their work matters or that they are meant to be exactly where they are?

Esther Perel – How the growing identity economy is reshaping the future of work

A combination of forces is driving this shift towards purpose. An intensifying focus on the environment, generational attitudes towards social good, activist investors, shifting positions of financial institutions, and narratives like stakeholder capitalism are all converging to shape a purpose-oriented future. The implications to the future of work are multi-faceted. These include acquiring or retaining talent, increased focus on employee well-being, expanding focus on relationships, and acknowledging worker needs for self-fulfillment and growth. An interesting parallel shift is driving an expectation that work should foster identity, meaning, and belonging, that being the diminishing role of religious and traditional structures. As the article states, many people who lost their jobs over the last year didn’t just experience it as a loss of income and security, but also as a loss of self.

To retain talented employees, companies will need to provide growth opportunities and structures that help colleagues reconcile a series of seemingly conflicting needs: money and meaning, autonomy and belonging, flexibility and stability.

Esther Perel – How the growing identity economy is reshaping the future of work

In an identity economy, future success hinges on authenticity, trust, empathy, engagement, and transparency, qualities around which the modern workplace will be organized. The third article referenced above focused on the growing belief that the future of work is hybrid. Seventy-two percent of knowledge workers prefer a hybrid approach, a mix of remote and office work. The article focuses on the one rule to follow to succeed: the 60-30-10 rule, which was developed by leading researchers Ruth Wageman and the late Harvard professor Richard Hackman. The rule explains variance in team performance this way: 60 percent of the variance in team performance is attributed to the way a team is designed; 30 percent of the variance in team performance is attributed to the quality of team launches; and only 10 percent is attributed to how well the leader coaches the team. The author states that decades of research suggest that team design, launches, and coaching, prioritized in that order, will define the effective hybrid teams of the future.

Many additional signals are emerging to help us paint pictures of possible work futures.

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