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The Future of Work Considerations (pt. 1)

J: Welcome to Slingshot25’s shotcast,a series of bite-size podcasts,that will feel like an espresso shot to your brain. I’m Jackie.

C: I’m Courtney.

J: Something we’ve been thinking about is this thing called the future of work. Well, Courtney, you’ve been talking a lot about that lately.

C: I was actually asked to talk about it. So I was invited to do a talk on future of work and we actually started this conversation and that one of our previous Shotcasts. We were talking about what it’s like to come back and team or how we try to team via Zoom. But turns out the topics much broader than that. It’s kind of funny, when someone says, will you do a talk on future work? And then I started researching it and found out that the future of work is like a big, big, big, big topic. It actually ended up being one of the hardest talks I’ve ever had to write because there’s so much content out there. I actually found over… I stopped looking but I found eight podcasts where “future of work” was in the title, let alone the episodes. One of them started in 2019 and it has like, I don’t know… close to 500 episodes.

So it’s a lot. And when I was asked to do the talk, I felt like a responsibility and of the things that we want to share with all of you. Now that we’ve learned it is a framing of it so you start to feel the impact of it, because if something is everything… it’s nothing.

J: So it sounds like a lot of people are curious about this subject. I mean if there’s 500 episodes in a single podcast, people are listening and they are really interested in preparing for the future of work. I’m guessing that’s what that’s what they’re indicating. So I think it’s a great idea to give just maybe a really quick framing of what is out there. Like, bring it down to size so that our listeners can then go in to explore, think about this, this problem on a deeper level.

So what would Courtney be in your talk that you did? What would be one of the things that you’d want to listen to think about in terms of framing this subject?

C: So, the first thing not surprising is a bucket around technology. One of the things that I learned of the research for that, we actually, they looked at technology investments and what it takes to work more virtually, most organizations had a strat planned prior to covid. That said, they wanted to make certain Investments. And they were too chicken. I don’t know if the research said there were too chicken but they’re kind of too chicken like that. That’s a big investment and what would happen with many, many companies is things that they’ve been thinking about, they weren’t driven to do until covid and it became business imperative to do it. For example, putting in the technology to do online grocery pick-up like that idea had been out there, they couldn’t have operationalized it so quickly but now they had to. Right? Otherwise you can’t and I will never go into a grocery store again, right? I use that technology. Other things going to Mobile deposits on checks and you name it. Every industry has their things where they had had the idea before and I guess covid, push the courage up. The other thing that that was interesting as we wouldn’t have survived this and had businesses run and even in the 90s, the infrastructure changes we made with whether its Broadband, Access, Wi-Fi, connectivity tools, and the fact that we have Teams and Zoom and all these things enabled, something that we probably would’ve shutdown would have been a shut down. Instead we just changed how we work.

J: Yeah so that’s making me think about you could call it lucky that this happened in 2020 instead of 1920 like those last pandemic or I guess depending on your perspective on it.

Maybe we’re just unlucky. We have so much technology to be able to sort of go into our homes and continue to do the same things that we were doing out there in public. So beyond the technology, what other kinds of things did you find in the research?

C: So that the second bucket and I think this is the one where most people’s energy is right now as we try to come back to work is around Mobility. We have been wrestling with people working from home since the 70s actually, people like it started. Then how does it change your work? How do we lead people? Can they work from home?  Do we are we all in person or we all virtual? That design I call it design criteria. Like where people can work, how they work, is it truly work anywhere, there’s a whole bucket of stuff there to think about your organizations to make decisions around. And it really affects how we lead people.

J: Yeah. One of the things that caught my attention when I was reading about some of the things that are happening in the mobility space and people working from home and work from home, talking about this, like we’ve been talking about this for years. This is, this is not a new subject, but I think I found really disturbing was this – the prevalence of all of this desire in the technology to do so much surveillance of people at home. The technology is there. That’s just I think one of the mistakes that I’m seeing in terms of how we’re leading people right now.

Around Mobility is we’re trying to over surveil them. Rather than you know, relying on trusting our employees and trusting that they are motivated to do the right thing.

C: Fascinating, if you want to find an article of… are people productive from home, right? And find data, you can find just as many research topics that say we’re more productive at home and on the flip side you can find that many more articles that say we’re less productive from home. I think it depends on who’s asking? I think it depends on what they want to find and they find it.

J: Absolutely. So, mobility… What I think you have a third, I think you found a third bucket.

C: The third bucket is what I call just the workforce itself. So who’s working for us? What is their attitude? What is their morale? How are people feeling? I put things like when you’re wrestling with the issues around attrition, great resignation, people finding meaningful work. That kind of in the workforce bucket, Millennials and GenZ, right? Having another generation or two in the workforce. There’s some differences with. We always say there’s more about the people you leave in the generation you’re in . But there are some things that from a generational standpoint, impact your workforce… The need for the younger generation to have impact and meaning in their work, shifts, who you are, who you are as a company matters to people. And you do understand that. And then when you take all of these complexities, when you think about being a leader, it’s a very different time to lead than we ever have.

The span of controls are different leaders, actually have more people reporting to them than they ever had in history, and they’re doing that, they’re managing more people in a more complex environment because they do have to deal with the impacts of technology, the impacts of mobile work and a changing workforce. So that the leadership job itself is hard, it’s brand new territory for leaders and it’s requiring, a greater leadership skillset maybe than we’ve seen in the past.

J: And that is, coming up for me and I always think about what it means to lead in the workplace. So the fact that we are right now in unprecedented territory, I think that should sink. I want that to sink in for leaders. You are actually, if you are leading now you are in unprecedented times is that means you are going to need the skills to handle these.

Unprecedented times. That sounds like I don’t know what you think, Courtney? Maybe another episode on this? Yah. So we will wrap it up for this episode of our Shotcast. We always have more to say and if this is a topic that’s hot in your organization and you want us to come and talk to your organization about it, let us know. Drop us a line at Slingshot25.com.

So until next time…

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