The future of work

I’m a big fan of futurist reports. Forget whether they are accurate predictors or not, they can distill a lot of what is going on, into a concise format that excites our imagination.
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Each year I look forward to the annual The Future 100 report from Wunderman Thompson and more recently, Fjord Trends from Accenture Interactive.

Consumers are employees

The 2022 report from Fjord is particularly relevant to Aprais because it looks at people both as consumers and as employees. The dominant theme of the 2022 report is that the future of work is about the need to respond to changes in all relationships – with colleagues, brands, society, places, and with those they care about. People are also coming face-to-face with the impact they’re having on the planet, and finally accepting they cannot go on behaving as though people were separate from nature.

Me over we

Fjord believes people’s growing sense of agency is manifesting as a shift in their relationship with work, which is fuelling the rise of side-hustles and kitchen table businesses.

“In the US, people make an average of US$10,972 a year from working side-hustles such as teaching, writing blogs/newsletters, renting out their home, freelance programming and many more activities”.

Fjord Trends 2022

Companies have no choice but to accept this changing dynamic in their workforce. They are no longer just competing with each other for talent — they’re also competing with everything else people want to do with their lives outside or instead of formal employment.

This independence is putting pressure on organisations to show people the value they can get from being part of a collective. This rise of a ‘me over we’ mentality has profound implications for organisations in how they lead their employees, and how they nurture relationships. This is the future of work.

Need to care

The report also discusses the issue of ‘care’ and concludes that the responsibilities around self-care and caring for others will likely continue to be prioritised. This matters to brands and employers because it’s a much-needed addition of emotional touch. Visibly caring for customers builds brand trust. Caring for employees builds loyalty.

As Forbes explains in this article, to fight the Great Resignation, businesses need more empathy-driven innovation.

“Greater expectations from consumers and increased burnout from employees”

What to do?

The Fjord reports recommends organisations to ‘declutter’ of the things that most frustrate employees and customers. The future of work will look for ways to minimise the noise, (such as communications, internal processes, external products/services), to give people more time and space for the things that matter.

Decluttering team communications

One example of decluttering was born out of our analysis of contact frequency through the Covid lockdowns.

We studied the rewards versus the toll on mental health of increased accessibility among teams, afforded by video conferencing technologies. By analysing the frequency of contact between teams and comparing that frequency with the evaluations scores given of each teams’ performance, we found that the increased frequency of contact at the onset of lockdowns did not have a positive impact on relationship evaluation scores.

The conclusion? Declutter! Quality of contact matters more than quantity.