Here in Hello Monday Club we come across a lot of people who are interested in The Future of Work.
And why not, it is a fascinating topic, broad, pretty abstract and almost all of us worked at least a day or 2 in our lives so most have an opinion about it as well 😂.
Especially in these days of global workplace transformation and highly connected global networks such as on Linkedin, we see Future of Work related articles, research and posts popping up everywhere, and usually they get a lot of comments. Some more valid than others, we’d say but it shows the topic is high on people’s lists of interests.
Today I want to talk about the difference between Future of Work Enthusiasts and Future of Work Leaders.
I guess if you are reading this, you are in almost all cases a Future of Work Enthousiast, but not necessarily a Future of Work Leader – yet.
So let’s see what you are and in any case, how you can increase your influence and contribute to a new world of work.
We are all Future of Work leaders, but some more than others.
If you have followed me for a while you might have heard me saying things like:
‘We are all Future of Work leaders, including the girl next door”
That is because I believe we are collectively responsible for shaping the world of work and in our own way we are all able to influence this to a certain extent by our behaviour, our expectations, expressing our needs and the way we show up in the world.
What do I mean?
- That entry level gen Z who is shyly asking if there are flexible hours in the company? They influence the narrative by making the recruiter realise his generation has specific expectations, eventually maybe even leading to new policies.
- That team lead that is managing less on hours and presence and instead more on getting the best results and offering amazing client experience? Not even keeping track of vacation days anymore? Oh yes, they are a Future of Work Leader.
- The team that decides to plan meetings in specific time slots in order to allow the individual team members more flexibility in their days? Future of Work leaders, for sure.
- That communication lead introducing an initiative for employees to connect with each other around personal interests and organises buddy meetings for remote employees? Future of Work leader.
- That 7 year old girl who contemplates that it is really nice for people to spend more time with your family when they don’t go to the office all day, every day? Yes, she is also a Future of Work Leader!
So we can all be Future of Work leaders. You noticed that in all of the above examples we see people taking responsibility, doing what makes sense instead of holding on to the old ways, expressing their needs and introducing new initiatives.
That is leading, making an impact, driving change and inspiring others towards new and better ways of working. Although this is often not deliberately or even required in their role.
And kudos to all of you out there who do so! We are happy that you are shaping the future of work with us. 💛
So I feel we can and should all be Future of Work Leaders in this sense, however for this article I want to make a distinction between people who are interested in the future of work and those who are formally responsible to lead their organisations towards new ways of working.
Hey you, Future of Work enthousiast
As a Future of Work Enthousiast the topic has a warm place in your heart and you are following developments with interest.
- You are subscribed to a lot of newsletters related to the future of work and new ways of working
- You read articles on Forbes, medium and other leading platforms
- You like, comment and share posts on Linkedin and other social media
- You attend free webinars, events and live streams.
- You connect with like-minded people who are sharing, commenting and attending events
- You read books on new ways of working
And I absolutely encourage that, it is where change starts and we are in a global transition. We also need to create a new collective paradigm around what our new world of work is going to look like so drinking in a lot of (relevant) information to understand change and develop vision is important.
And as an enthusiast you are probably not in the position to directly influence the agenda of your company but as we seen indirectly you can still do so.
If this is you, read on for tips on how you can increase your influence, contribute to the new paradigm and start making an impact.
And you, Future of Work leader!
Our members and clients are mostly Future of Work Leaders – people who are formally in charge of HR and Organisational strategies, and who’s job it is to support their companies towards new ways of working.
These leaders are actively developing new initiatives, looking for new solutions, increasing their knowledge, building business cases and developing policies and processes for their organisation.
They are making decisions and are influencing the HR agenda in their companies.
These are the people who are actively contributing to the way the new world of work will look like in 10 years from now.
And who are laying the foundations for a world where it will be normal to for employees to be empowered and have a healthy work-life harmony.
Future of Work Leaders are the Business and HR leaders who are building the foundations of the organisation of tomorrow.
What is the role as a Future of Work leader?
First of all, a Future of Work leader needs strategic thinking: translating developments in the world around them into a workplace design that will be successful in that future context.
Secondly they need to have a solid and sustainable vision – a vision based on a deep understanding of what their organisation will need in the future and what is needed to facilitate that.
Thirdly, to have some idea about the time line when these developments become relevant or urgent.
(I think that is the hardest part. I predicted that organisations would shift to more remote working and global staffing eight years ago but it did not really happen at scale – and without the pandemic it mostly likely would still be exceptional).
After building a vision and trying to get some sense of a realistic timeline, a Future of Work leader needs to be able to build a strong business case that supports their case and then align their leadership team towards their vision.
That requires knowledge, skills, influence and they need to be able to inspire others.
And after having a aligned leadership team they need to start thinking about implementation: change management, strategies, policies and procedures, management styles and culture.
An example of Future of Work Leadership: 32 hour workweek.
So let’s dive into an example here:
On a strategic level we identify a development that companies are moving from a 40 hour workweek to a 32 workweek
What is the evidence that this really is a development? Here are some clues:
- Some companies have successfully implemented a 32 hour workweek, other companies are experimenting with it
- UAE has formally moved to a 4,5 workweek for all government employees
- A large trial involving thousands of UK employees starting with a four-day workweek has started.
- Small scale research results and anecdotical results proves it is more productive and it fits the needs of employees and benefits overall society.
- There is older, indirect but related academic research that supports the business case.
- Since a 32 hour workweek will attract talent in a scarce labour market it is bringing huge strategic advantages.
Taking this in consideration it seems we can assume that at one point in the future more and more companies will move to 32 hours a week (with a full-time salary).
As a next step the Future of Work Leader needs to develop their vision:
What does that mean for your organisation? For collaboration and KPI’s? What kind of interventions would it require, how can you facilitate the transition? What will be problems that needs to be solved during the transformation?
My vision is that we will not, or mostly not, have a formal 4 day workweek like we know have a formal 5 day workweek embedded in society and seen as the default times that we work.
Based on academic knowledge we can identify a more sustainable model that has more flexibility during the week where people will naturally work around 4-6 hours a day spread over 4-6 days (including evenings).
Work will be more a-synchronous and flexible, more results driven and the actual workweek could even become closer to 28-30 hours.
Check this session about the 4 day workweek to hear more about my vision.
As a Future of Work Leader, it is your job to decide what you think gives the best results for your organisation.
You will also pro-actively need to decide when we think this will become relevant for your organisation.
UAE moved switched quite suddenly to a 4,5 work week early 2022 for all governmental organisations, forcing private companies to follow sooner or later.Other countries could introduce similar schemes quit quickly as well, thus influencing the development.
Of course, there are already companies working 32 hours but usually these are smaller companies.
But what if the tech giants introduce a 32 workweek for full pay – how long will it take for smaller tech firms to follow if they see a talent drain? Or what if the smaller companies start to leverage the competitive advantage to attract the tech talent?
And if the trial in the UK is positive, a substantial number of employees will be enjoying a 4 day workweek in their current jobs also after the trial.
I tend to overestimate the speed of change so my prediction of 3-5 years is probably not that realistic, (on the other hand, it will be a quick development at one point) but by the end of the decade it will most likely be pretty common at least for knowledge workers.
In any case, as a Future of Work leader you will need to create a strategy and bring the discussion to the table:
‘Can we assume that this company will be moving towards a 32 hour workweek somewhere in 2025-2027?’
‘If so, what do we need to do now for a smooth transition when this will happen? Are we starting with a trial and if so, when?’
‘Does our company want to be ahead of the curve in this to leverage competitive advantage, or first wait till others go first or till more research is available?’
‘In what scenario will we have missed the boat and what are the costs of that?’
From a Future of Work Enthousiast towards a Future of Work Leader
Once I spoke to a CEO who told me he was very interested in the Future of Work, and he listed a long list of books he had read about new ways of working and leadership.
‘Great’, I said, ‘and which of these ideas have you implemented?’
A confused and slightly embarrassed silence followed.
Indeed, what is the use of reading more books but not taking the next step?
It is great to start with (academic) knowledge and develop a vision, but we need to be able to drive real change as well.
Many are Future of Work Enthusiast but we do not necessarily choose to be a Future of Work Leader. But what if you’d like to strenghten your (informal) Future or Work Leadership role?
Here are some ideas to start with:
- Ask yourself what you can do today to show up as you’d like people to show up in the Future of Work.
- After saying things like: ‘Companies/Managers/Leadership should be doing this or that’, ask yourself: ‘and what can I do to support them doing so?’
- Do not just adapt to a common narrative without critical thinking or doing some research. That many people say or repost something in your echo chamber on social media does not make it true, let alone the best way forward for the future of work
- Realise we are in a phase where we need to develop a new paradigm that is sustainable for the next century and you are responsible for what and how you contribute to that new paradigm.
- Ask yourself in what kind of organisation you’d want your children to work in and in what kind of world you’d want them to raise their children. What can you do to contribute to this?
- Make sure to follow Hello Monday Club’s content to get access to academic knowledge. plus collective and intuitive wisdom of experts and forward thinking senior leaders. Also share this content with colleagues and friends who are Future of Work Enthusiasts or Leaders.
Increase your Influence as a Future of work leader
In case you are a formal Future of Work leader it is most important that you have what it takes to influence your peers, develop a solid and sustainable long term vision on new ways of working, and are able to present strong business cases and drive impactful change.
With Hello Monday Club we support you with just that.
Not only in our 12 month Leadership Circles, but for now in our 2022 Summer School, consisting of three sessions that help you increase your influence and develop a vision for two major developments: a 32 hour workweek and welcoming generation Z.
Go here for more information and to sign up for your sessions.
On a last note:
In this time of global, drastic workplace transformation it is not easy to be in the role of a Future of Work Leader.
And, if you think of it, it has tremendous responsibility.
However, it is also very exciting AND you have the chance to make a real impact.
Not only leave a legacy in your organisation but even change the world!
Tell us about you!
Are you a formal Future of Work leader looking to increase your influence? Or an enthusiast who wants to grow and learn and contribute towards overall change in their job?
Please make sure to leave update your subscription when you sign up your to make sure we can send you the right information.
Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash