Gary Flood, Journalist, The HR Congress
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
Flexible work is foundational for attracting and retaining talented employees, but companies need a roadmap to ensure their teams are set up for success.
At the largest online event on HR Technology and the Future of Work for our sector, in September’s well-attended online ‘The HR Congress TechFest’ conference, a number of major HR industry commentators shared their perspectives.
Let’s dip into what a few of them had to say—being aware that this is only a taster of their rich talks, and we recommend studying the whole video
Very much part of our current workplace reality, hybrid or flexible working seems to be what many employees want. But is it still a challenge for organizations to set up and manage in a way both managers and teams can live with?
Dedicating herself to answering that question is Sheila Subramanian, who has a dual work role as both a Vice President at enterprise messaging platform Slack and co-founder of Future Forum, an organization set up to build “flexible, inclusive and connected” ways of working.
Subramanian and her colleagues at that organization have condensed a lot of their insights (which are partly derived from quarterly research from over 10,000 desk workers) and best practice tips for making distributed working work in The Wall Street Journal bestseller, How the Future Works: Leading Flexible Teams To Do The Best Work of Their Lives (2022).
Sharing some of the main findings of this very recent book formed the bulk of Subramanian’s keynote, which was flagged up for TechFest attendees as the basis for a roadmap to ensure you are set up for success if you decide to go down this path.
But if you do, don’t just do what too many employers hit by COVID did, she warned. “We saw organizations and leaders like you make bigger changes they ever thought were possible, literally overnight, in how their employees worked,” she said.
The problem with that: due to necessity, most organizations simply did a lift and shift of their existing office space norms into their staff’s living rooms.
Future Forum members think instead, the pandemic and its aftermath present an opportunity to move from “retrofitting” existing ways of working to completely redesigning what work can look like. As she enthused,
Sounds great. But what to do, practically? Subramanian’s main suggestions fire off Future Forum polls that show three big trends in terms of employee desires. One is flexibility–not just in where they work, but also when and how they work; a desire for inclusion and feeling like they belong; and a feeling of connection to their leadership and their colleagues.
A roadmap for hybrid success?
Organizations can successfully respond to these new workplace trends by:
But maybe most critically of all, be realistic. Not all of this will work for you at once, and you may need to work out what’s best for your environment. “It’s important for leaders to experiment with what’s working and what’s not working. The environmental, economic, professional, and personal environment we’re all dealing with is changing all the time, so it’s important to test out new ways of working and to embrace two-way transparency and get as much feedback as they can from their teams.”
We’re all multi-faceted. So why have we been denying that to ‘succeed’?
Earlier on, we mentioned that Subramanian has a ‘dual role’ as both a corporate officer at her company and as a member of her networking group.
But maybe that’s too simple a way of looking at both her as an individual, and the modern working person… as she also pointed out in her video presentation how the pandemic had changed her whole way of thinking about what her real ‘roles’ are in life and work:
“Early in my career, I found very few role models for building careers and lives that worked well for both,” she said.
“But over the last few years, I have held a stronger sense of belonging as a leader, but also as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a neighbor, and Auntie than I ever had before.
“It’s my hope that by redesigning the way that we work to be more flexible, inclusive and connecting, others will feel the same as well.”
Can she be the only leader or even employee feeling the same way?
We very much doubt it… but recommend you read her book–and decide the question for yourself!
See the full version of this keynote:
Written by: Katalin Toth
Gary Flood, Journalist, The HR Congress WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? Navigating digital disruptions is not a about technology. It is about the organizational changes required to harness the power [...]