Future of Work
Jeffery Perry explores what the new normal may look like as the return to the office begins.
People want to get back to normal as the world emerges post-pandemic, but this has different implications across aspects of life. Back to normal may apply in social situations like visiting family and friends, dining at restaurants, going to bars, attending sporting events, and enjoying live concerts. However, for people who traditionally work in office settings and who worked remotely for over a year, there is no rush to get back to normal. Employees state a desire for flexibility they experienced through the dark days of the pandemic. Businesses are navigating a next normal, a delicate balance of considering greater flexibility of how and where work gets done, needing employee productivity, wanting cultural connectivity, and ensuring employee retention.
The first mistake a business can make is to frame the dialogue as a return to work. This implies that people were not really working during the pandemic. Nothing could be further from the truth. People were often working more hours virtually, were highly productive, while managing school-age children in virtual school. The pandemic accelerated the potential of remote work with businesses pivoting on a dime to ensure commercial continuity. While technology-enabled, the resiliency of employees made the difference in an unprecedented period no one wants to relive.
The issue is really about a return to the office. The second mistake a business can make is to declare blanket return to the office mandates. In a study by global staffing firm Robert Half, 34% of professionals who worked remotely through the pandemic would look for a new job if required to return to the office full-time. Now that people have had a taste of greater remote flexibility and productivity enabled by technology, there is a desire to continue some of these features going forward.
Key points include:
- Blanket mandates
- Employee performance
- Time management
Read the full article, Next Normal Is Not Back to Normal, on LeadMandates.com.
It’s always interesting to take a look back while stepping forward. In this older post from Supriya Prakash Sen, the use of AI technology in the workplace was explored. How does it compare to today’s outlook?
The news has been awash with provocative articles about the future of jobs in our society. The exponentially advancing nature of Artificially Intelligent machines, after AlphaGo turned out to be a better Go player than any human – combined with the power of the collective mind, makes it an urgent question to debate. There seems to be almost no job or field of endeavor that cannot be disrupted – from routine and manual jobs to non-routine and cognitive jobs, all are now at risk of being replaced by intelligent machines.
Simple example- the other day I saw a conscious robotic arm in the pharmacy of the hospital, which is already dispensing medicine packages more accurately, efficiently and in a more space-saving way than any human could possibly do. Similarly – robotic arms that sort through waste at landfills are more productive, and also cheaper in the long run, albeit replacing work for humans who sort through garbage (sadly, often the first form of entrepreneurship for the disenfranchised). This raises the question, that maybe humans should let the work be done by machines after all- why fight it – we humans were meant for more higher pursuits anyway? Meanwhile robot bartenders are already employed in ships, see video clip: Robot Bartender on Cruise Ship.
Machine vs. Man was never a fair fight. From cameras and telescopes to ships and airplanes and drones, to the newest generation of “thinking” computers- there are hardly any jobs that machines cannot do better than humans.In fact, recent advances in technology and networked intelligence can lead to massive changes in entire societies, in the space of less than a generation. For just a small instance, look merely at what Fitbit can accomplish through scale and peer-pressure – rippling through an entire population, changing habits and behaviors in a relatively short period of time- and compare this with the impact a Personal Trainer can have with one client in a long set of focused one-on-one interactions.
Key points include:
- Extending human capability
- Universal basic income
- Virtual rewards replace money
Read the full article, The Power and the Fear – Artificial Intelligence and its impact on Jobs and Society, on LinkedIn.
The future of work, agriculture, education, and even relationships are all areas facing change thanks to AI technology. David Edelman extols the benefits of AI in this post.
The digital explosion, accelerated by Covid, has not made life on the front lines of sales and customer service any easier. In fact, when customers are able to do more research on their own, salespeople face tougher unanswered questions, and more of an inquisition about competitive differences, granular product details, or use cases they’ve never considered. Service reps have to handle the calls of customers facing challenges they could not resolve online, likely meaning customers who are more frustrated or who have very complex situations, often demanding special treatment or deeper investigation. And if they cannot work in a call center setting, getting help from colleagues or managers is simply more challenging logistically.
No matter what prognosticators say about AI automating away jobs, there will always be a need for front line roles (even if fewer people can handle many more calls) and AI can supercharge them by augmenting the capabilities available at the rock face of customer interaction. Reps will be more effective, and as their efficiency in “handling the difficult” goes up, they will become more scalable. The business cases are getting powerful.
Key points include:
- The new powers of augmentation
- It’s a brand issue
- But the tools are not enough
Read the full article, AI to the Rescue, as Call Centers Struggle
A crisis often kickstarts innovation in technology and shifts in culture. As working from home options become a more normal structure, how will this impact performance and growth? Kaihan Krippendorff takes a look at the company culture of Netflix to explore the impact of no rules rules.
When we think about culture and responsibility in the workplace, companies generally fall into one of two categories. Some seek to monitor their employees and keep them in a structured order by implementing rules and policies for every interaction. This is more common and tends to happen as companies scale and become more established. The result is a thick handbook and a set of employees who don’t need to think as much about what to do, because the thinking has been done for them.
The alternative seems more chaotic: companies that have very few procedures and regulations in place. This is most often seen in startups or businesses with few employees. Employees are given the freedom to make their own decisions, which often inspires creativity and innovation. This freedom usually lasts until the business begins to grow, and limitations are imposed. Controls seem necessary; a few wrong budgeting decisions might have a major impact on a growing business.
So as business scales, how do we give employees the freedom to make decisions while keeping chaos in check?
NETFLIX: CREATING A CULTURE OF FREEDOM AT SCALE
Lucky for us, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings experienced both scenarios, and he and Erin Meyer, a bestselling author and international culture expert, have written the book on innovative culture in the workplace. Last week, I was fortunate to attend Erin’s Thinkers50 and Insight to Impact webinar: No Rules Rules (replay available here).
In the webinar, Erin described Reed’s experience launching his first business, a software troubleshooting company. At first, there were no rules. But as the business began to grow, Reed started implementing more policies. He found that the new restrictions drove his most creative employees out of the company.
Key points include:
- Creating a culture of freedom at scale
- Culture is about reconciling dilemmas
- Three steps to employee freedom
Read the full article, No Rules Rules At Netflix: Rethinking Culture As We Return To Work, on Kaihan.net.
After the disruption of 2020, your business strategies may need to change to accommodate the cultural shifts. Kaihan Krippendorff shares business trends that should be taken into account.
This year, as we recover from a massive shock to all forms of structure and life as we once knew it, we have a chance to create the future. We will dust ourselves off, begin to rebuild, and attempt to return to a sense of normalcy.
However, we ask that you, as Outthinkers, take on this challenge with great care. In 2021, perhaps more than ever before, you will be writing the rules of a new reality. So, as you take your first steps toward shaping this new year, be sure that it is a reality in which you want to live.
Twice monthly, through our Outthinker Strategy Network, we gather a group of top CSOs to deliberate on the most important things on their minds while running a business today. This is not a massive global survey sent to thousands of CSOs asking them to agree or disagree on popular buzzwords or pre-defined topics. Rather, our trends report comes from in-depth conversations and trusted relationships, even if our list may not match up to the latest keywords in the news.
Each week, we will expand upon one of these trends with the intention of supporting your organization’s strategy for the next year and beyond. Our newsletter subscribers will receive early access to each weekly announcement.
Key points include:
- Ecosystem development
- Future organizational models
- Future of work
Read the full article, 2021 Business Trends: The 10 Strategic Shifts That Will Shape Your Industry, on Kaihan.net.
Paul Millerd shares insights from multiple sources on the future of work in these five conversations.
The future of work can mean anything. I’ve had many conversations and discussions around the idea of “future of work” where people talk past each other, often focused on different fundamental issues. In an effort to make sense of this complexity and create some common ground for the many people having these conversations, I propose differentiating between five future of work conversations:
Conversation #1: Macro Trends (consultancies, journalists, politicians)
This conversation is typified by looking at trends and then working backward to see what the implications are for people. Terms like “fourth industrial revolution,” “the end of work,” “post-work,” “artificial intelligence,” and “robots” are used prolifically. McKinsey writes in a report on the future of work:
‘Automation, digital platforms, and other innovations are changing the fundamental nature of work.’
‘Automation, advanced manufacturing, AI, and the shift to e-commerce are dramatically changing the number and nature of work.’
…and finally, The Brookings Institute:
‘Robots, artificial intelligence, and driverless cars are no longer things of the distant future.’
Key points include:
- One of the top three skills workers will need
- The Gig Economy
- Evolving Organizational Ecosystems
Read the full article, The Future Of Work Is Five Different Conversations, on LinkedIn.
Join Kaihan Krippendorff on May 6th, for a summit with 24 thought-leaders from around the globe, across 24 hours where thought leaders will discuss how to rethink tomorrow for you and your Organization. Confirmed speakers include Dan Pink, Amy Edmondson, Marshall Goldsmith, Faith Popcorn, and Rosabeth Moss-Kanter.
100% of profits will go to charity. Donations will be awarded to Kiva, No Kid Hungry, GiveDirectly, and the European Food Banks Federation.