What is the New Future of Work?

 In covid-19, Insights and articles

What is the New Future of Work?

Large, global events change the course of history at least once in a generation. COVID-19 is one of those events. And in changing the course of history, it will change our collective futures.

At Veldhoen + Company, we work with organizations across the globe to ready themselves for the Future of Work. But, the Future of Work we were all moving toward a few months ago was distant and unclear. Now, it is here right in front of us, in our homes. And it doesn’t quite look like what we expected. This is the New Future of Work.

The New Future of Work is best understood in the context of larger societal shifts we see occurring, either as a direct result of or spurred on by the world’s reaction to COVID-19. It is precisely what we do as human beings in response to this external threat that will determine how we live and work for years to come.

Here at Veldhoen + Company, we are witnessing an important social trend that will determine The New Future of Work: Social isolation will lead to more connection. Who would have thought that staying home for days on end would lead to greater sharing of our humanity, both inside our homes and across the world? We’ve seen Italian apartment complexes break out into song from their balconies and trainers lead global exercise classes through Zoom.

All these little changes come together to create larger global transitions. New possibilities will lead to new expectations, which quickly become our new reality. This is where the New Future of Work takes place. Below are Veldhoen + Company’s predictions on the impact this will have.

Prediction #1:  

This period of knowledge workers working from home will lead to greater integration and balance of work and life.

The rat race of life has led many of us to work long hours at the sacrifice of family, friends, and personal passions, as we seek to sustain and advance our careers. Our work worlds and our home/family worlds are no longer separate. All of the sudden, we are home for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While this might feel overwhelming to some, for most it is a beautiful opportunity to reconnect with what we hold most dear – the people and activities we love. The increased ability to work from home that will carry forward from this pandemic will mean greater flexibility in how we balance and integrate our work and home lives. We will emerge with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to navigate the New Future of Work.

Result: We will spend more time with our families and friends even after COVID-19, deprioritizing work, which for so long has been paramount.

Prediction #2:  

We will leave this period with a greater sense of our interconnected, shared humanity.

The way we share our humanity is changing. And, with the advent of artificial intelligence, our humanity is the most important thing, both at work and at home. In the future, people will be valued for their specifically human skills, as machines take over the quotidian tasks. Our collective experience of responding to the pandemic is bringing us together as a global community to see the humanity in

each other. This means seeing the humanity of the people we work with on a daily basis. I am seeing the human side of clients, meeting their families and pets and seeing their homes through the video chats. What was once a foreign and removed part of their lives is now integrated into our shared existence. Though we’ve been working together for months, our connection is suddenly deeper – despite the physical boundaries.

Result: Humanity will (re)enter our working lives. This means the ways we lead, manage, and work will change to create more room for our holistic personhood. Now that we know what each other goes through outside of work, we can see each other more as whole people.

Family and FriendsPrediction #3:  

Even though physical borders are closing, and business travel is significantly decreasing, work will become more and more flexible.

In times of panic we tend to revert to old behaviors and double down on “tried and true” initiatives. We become significantly more risk averse. However, the particulars of a pandemic mean that we are forced to try something new in our organizations: flexible working. While some of us have had these options available for a while, very few of us have used them to this extreme. Across the world, knowledge workers have taken a collective leap into the New Future of Work.

Result: We will see significant increases in flexibility across workstyles, with time- and place-independent work supported broadly. With so many organizations shifting to full-time remote work now, the demand for and capability to provide remote work and other flexibilities will be higher after COVID-19 than before. After all, now we know we can do it!

For 30 years, we at Veldhoen + Company have helped organizations transition to new ways of working through holistic and integrated changes in culture, technology, and physical space. With that as our grounding, we are turning our attention to supporting you on the short- and long-term effects of COVID-19. That means everything from tips to working at home to consultations on virtual team management in light of global workstyle trends. Follow us on email and social media to stay informed. We’re entering the New Future of Work together!

Article by Julian Chender, Workstyle Consultant

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