I recently was a keynote speaker for the online Future Of Work Conference.
The future of work presentation was created to help businesses consider the future of work and the future of their business.
This presentation should act as a guide and inspiration on how to rethink your current approach and lead your company and lean into the future.
As a huge advocate for hybrid work and the hybrid office (aka an arena), many businesses are requesting their staff to return to the office at least 3 days a week (including Apple & Google), with this in mind, the presentation enables any version of hybrid to work.
Over the last two years, the influence of TikTok on everyday life has increased, over the last twelve months we have seen a shift in social media to more focus on entertainment.
Over the past six months we have seen the number of work-related TikTok’s increase and many of them are actually what our teams and colleagues are thinking. Unfortunately, many are not in a place to be able to raise internally and is impacting your company culture.
Yes, they may appear parody, however, these five TikTok videos are all insights businesses need to prepare for, address poor team behaviour and develop plans for over the next couple of months.
The hybrid future is going to be a forcing function to revamp the office, changing the HQ from a traditional office, to the office 3.0 – the arena.
The Office Was:
The agreed place to perform a series of work tasks. To improve the performance and revenues of the company. A place to develop and advance your career.
The Arena Is:
The place to bring people together with a shared connection or love for something.
To put on a show
Enable (safe) collaboration
These are essential elements of contrast but also of similarity, many of these elements were seen in the office, they were not clear elements of the office much thought of or understand. These elements are going to essential parts of embracing the hybrid future and enabling success for all staff whether they are working in the office, a designated satellite office or working remotely or working from home.
Why The Shift From Office To Arena
We will need to be able to collaborate in small groups in bigger spaces
Mandatory based trust
We have seen remote & WFH work & be productive
There will be a demand to offer flexibility
We will need to be able to create presentations that are interactive, enables in-person and remote presentations with the same experience & interaction
Enable shows like in an arena meaning tribal surroundings of safety alongside ensuring you have the best equipment for streaming high-quality audio and high-quality video – for live broadcasts and on-demand replays. This is close to live concerts streamed or sporting events broadcasted
In the rest of the actionable presentation, I discuss the importance of the office, the importance of the hybrid workplace and how you build for the future by amending the office into an office as an arena for people and business successes.
I include tools to use, ways to think and concepts to consider when approaching the office as an arena and building for future successes.
The Actions To Take:
Adapt your office into an arena, build-out safer larger spaces in existing or new offices, invest in technology; video, audio, connectivity and purpose-built software not just forcing the current software to do the job
Invest in better IT software and hardware, invest in to better microphones, better webcams or connecting smartphones to work laptops
Value others time – be deliberate in reducing grabbing or stealing others time
I trust you are well today and halfway through planning Q2 and creating the action plan for your department or team to be successful.
I have spoken on a number of virtual panels and presented a number of presentations (including the future of work), one of the common themes of these online events has been offering the best reading materials and supporting content to the audience.
For one event, I was asked to provide three recommendations of what to listen to, read and watch.
I wanted to share some of the recommendations for you to digest and consider reading and then you can share with your teams. I have added why you might be interested
The Dip by Seth Godin Why? The best short book on knowing when to stay with something or know when the dip is going to be painful Link
1000 True Fans Why? A must-read for anyone in business, particularly in modern times when everything is about an engaged audience and a way to reconsider how you create content and engage the 1000 Link A newer spin on 1000 but totally inspired. 100 true fans. Link
Black Box Thinking (link) & Rebel ideas (link) by Matthew Syed. Why? These books will change your ways of thinking and shape how important your colleagues and having a diverse set of thinking and people around you truly are. These are dense books, there are talks on YouTube that will give you a tease into these. Listening to the books on Audible is a great option with these books.
Danish TV Advert. All that we share Why? Brilliant advert in English to help you understand how are all different but all connect on levels. YouTube Link
How Musically (now TikTok) was built. Why? How Musically (now TikTok) was fundamentally differently by thinking deeply about culture YouTube Link
How Facebook got to the first billion users Why? An unapologetic explainer of how Facebook got to their first billion users by being 100% driven by their goals of connecting people and understanding the first x friends or x actions improved experiences YouTube Link
Finding success in the music industry Why? Breakdowns the music industry so simply and helps you to understand how challenging industries have formulas & channel based thinking. YouTube Link
Business Movers Walt Disney Podcast Why? Captivating listen about Walt Disney, the complexity of being a genius who truly believed in stories and brand. As relevant today as then and will be relevant for decades to come. Podcast Link
Spark and Fire Podcast – Soul Pixar edition Why? The best supporting podcast to a movie (Soul) I have heard, the lead writer talks about the process and insane level of details that go into Pixar movies Podcast Link
Over the past twelve months, there has been a number of professionals who have struggled with the newer ways of working.
Being disconnected from colleagues, reduced interactions and being disconnected physically away from your team has seen a number of new challenges and led to a number of your colleagues questioning their role at your company and questioning if it is a good time for a career change.
The forced remote world of work we have experienced has challenged the least experienced to the most experienced. From seeing colleagues leave, furloughs, redundancies and having to pick up more work with less support around us.
It is imperative we set everyone up for the future of work and workforce and often you just do not have the support network you require for the problems you encounter.
So today, I am announcing Dear Focus, an anonymous career advice column, send in your questions and we will write up as a blog post to offer career advice and provide support. Please remember this is anonymous unless you decide to include your email and will send the article when live.
If you would like advice please complete the form below.
Something that is crystal clear is; remote work has disconnected even the closest of teams, departments and even work friends.
This is creating performance issues in many businesses.
Company culture has never been as important as today’s forced working from home environment.
As per our deep dive into the future of work we have seen the workplace completely change from clearer dynamics to messy dynamics where colleagues fail to connect.
The Future Of Work TLDR
Workshopping Is A Solution
The way many are attempting to tackle this issue is in workshops or one big workshop. In the workshop environment, you are juggling a good facilitator alongside personality types.
Introverts will be introverts, extroverts will be extroverts and many ambiverts will have to lean into their extroversion to compete. You are then relying on individuals to get out of their comfort zone and then challenge louder voices.
Big collective sessions are currently being managed over a video conferencing tool like Zoom, with an open document, with a virtual shared space or open canvas like Miro and a series of notes.
This approach can work, however, often this doesn’t allow for questions or follow up sessions with more personalised and connecting questions between colleagues.
At Focus, we believe connections happen with natural interactions, with infrequent connections, with questions and answers and natural connections being formed by uncovering connections or quirks.
A Fresh Focused Approach
When you join a business you are often provided with a new starter form or a template to complete, it’s shared around and then nothing happens until the next new starter or a conversation happens.
Why wait for this to fizzle out or to be ignored? Especially when many businesses will struggle to hire and are struggling to connect colleagues together.
Below is a series of questions to share around to everyone to complete, all answers are shared on the knowledge centre or your internal wiki and encourage teams to explore each other’s answers and discover new and old colleagues by the questions they answer.
You can encourage connections over email, over instant messenger or over video calls. You will be surprised how connections are made from uncommon questions or different answers.
The Question Template
What does your work day to day look like
Like about your discipline
Dislike about your disciple
What did you want to do when you were growing up
Best working memory
One book you would recommend
Two songs that gets you every time
A film that has stuck in your memory
One brand you admire
If you would like a Google Doc’s version please click here
The important part of this exercise is to phase the rollout, in the big organisations there will be a flood of internal get to know me’s, this means many in the middle to the end will be lost.
Roll out week by week, have a morning where you share a batch of profiles or department profiles and encourage conversation directly with colleagues you don’t know, whatever peaks your interests.
Some organisations have randomised coffee catch up’s where you can meet your colleague or follow on the conversation. Suggest a time slot each week which is for connecting. This will allow connections to form and to become more habitual than feel like it’s something you have to squeeze in.
Make These Profiles Accessible In Many Digital Places
It is important you enable these profiles on instant messaging profiles, into your email directory and ensuring the profiles are on the internal wikis and knowledge centres.
The secret – always have one home, one canonical home that is the home for all information.
Although there are a number of virtual HQ’s now available and being developed, with long IT and software sign off process, this internal framework will enable better connections and refresh a way to bump into each other and or have hallway conversations and enable this in a flexible framework.
In the future, these answers and new connections will enable your leadership team to proactively host ask us anything sessions where the team can come closer together and communication improves.
Remember to suggest refreshes and all new staff that join to complete and share. The smarter the sharing, the better the engagement, the better connections will be formed.
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In the past few weeks, I have spoken at a couple of events, the first was for experienced business owners and the second, leaders from agency owners.
The theme has been the future of work and the future of the workplace.
As part of The Focus Five series, I wanted to provide you with a snapshot of the ways Focus is planning for the future and helping business shape their future successes with the ‘future of the work’ series.
The Future Of Work & Workplace Summary
Welcome to three people, the first is Jeff, Jeff is old school, misses working from his office with his seat and being listened to constantly when he spoke. Jeff does not understand the rush towards a fully remote workforce apart from a bottom-line perspective.
Jeff has not really truly considered the evolution that has been happening in recent times, the evolution of trust, from WFH meaning it was people not working until in recent times when people could get their heads down and actually hit deadlines.
WFH Trust Timeline
Something to note and pay attention to is how very few businesses were deliberate in creating the right online and virtual environment for their teams to success.
Grace has been on this journey and embraced it. Unfortunately, throughout this change, Grace has seen pros and cons, most specifically around her line manager and being able to have effective one to ones, while managing her team, alongside her deliverables and helping her team hit their deadlines.
This is a challenge many people have struggled with and have not been trained or supported in the shift to forced working from home.
Training and preparation for the Hybrid workplace are paramount to your future successes.
The Current Employee
The office despite the politics that majority of people encounter had clear dynamics, you had your layers of connections, you were able to connect to more people and have closer relationships with colleagues and make a support network of friends in and outside of work.
Clear Office Dynamics Have Changed Forever
What many people miss is the work version, their work identity, their people around them, their desk (despite not being able to sit there often enough) and the place where they had the battle of who actually booked the meeting room and awkwardly waiting outside of the meeting room or someone else’s office.
These have all been changed and it took a number of months to adapt and adjust to new dynamics.
The next shift in the workplace is enabling hybrid workforces, this means old ways of tackling the office layout and where people sit and why look and operate differently, booking into the office, being able to work safely and with your project team is going to be something dedicated people will have to look after and own.
The forced WFH experiment we are living through means offices and dynamics have shifted and many of us are seeing the passive future playout, without the element of satellite offices and small collaboration spaces.
The Future & Rewriting The Future
We have most likely seen the end of your desk, your seat and your department all being in the same small space. It is important to note this is the future and to manage the expectation of the ~40% who crave to work from their seat with their people around them.
Messy Remote Dynamics
The shift in working from home and the future of working in multiple locations have led to the shift in dynamics, between office acquaintances – those who had passing conversations and in the lift chats to colleagues being less connected (the Allen Curve is an important read) to work friends losing their closeness and with the level of interactions (proximity bias) means less work BFF’s and less close colleagues. This can be negative but also could be a positive enabling better collaboration without conditioned affinity to friends.
2021 and Beyond
An important layer we have to consider and place front and centre of the future of work and workplace is safety, and knowing the customer will be in charge, the customer will want brands to be loyal to them and be rewarded showing loyalty and creating safety, ordering online and respecting a new world of commerce.
The Future – Hybrid Employees
Meera is the future, she is a Culture Community Manager, she enables the workforce to work flexibly, she understands her performance and what is required from her business and works in shifts to ensure the best work life balance alongside getting the best professional performance.
When the return to the office is safe many business will have to develop more mentors, not more managers, a flexible working environment and an office which acts like an arena.
The Future Will Have Battle Grounds
There will be areas to address, there will be many options, working from the office, working from home, working remotely, working in co-working spaces, working from the area’s (client offices or agency offices) and encouraging this to be logged and supported by managers of all levels and experience.
The Office Will Be An Arena
The office has to be turned into something different, performances will be needed in the hybrid workplace, the arena is a place to perform, entertain, to put on a show in a safe and collaborative space.
The Hybrid Office – 30/70 rule
Despite this being a Linkedin poll, over one thousand professionals indicated the future is 30/70, 30% in the office, 70% out, 3 in ten days in the office, 7 in the other ten as remote. This is hybrid and is the future of the workplace.
The Future Of Comms: Asynchronous
The future of comms looks like multiple arrays of asynchronous tools, deliberate in the ways we communicate and explain projects, product developments and campaigns, we will see tools like mmhmm, loom and audiograms becoming everyday tools and documents not just with text and imagery but with video explainers.
Presentations with video, audio and interactions will be essential to winning the hybrid workplace battle. Plain Excel sheets lacking commentary will be redundant, PowerPoints or Google Slides with links and basic imagery will be things of the past.
Are you ready to make the shift? This is the future of collaborative work and adding to your remote stack today is going to protect you and your business.
The workplace should also see a reduction in requirements for all at the same time / real-time meetings, reduce attendance with more deliberate agendas and interactions.
Platforms Influence On Shaping The Workplace
Here are a number of important learnings and lessons you will have the implement and be deliberate in shifting old ways of work and embracing new tech and new formats from platforms the workforce uses every day outside (and some inside) of work.
The shift into chat workplaces has not gone unnoticed and many have struggled to manage and apply processes to ensure success and standardised usage of tools like Slack, Teams and Facebook’s Workplace.
The importance of video and story formats will be evident in the next year, the importance of replacing in-person connection will be essential, as will keeping and engaging staff in short but very deliberate communication messages. Video first means we operate in a new performative space however this means creative members of the team and employees with growth mindsets will thrive from introverts through ambiverts to the biggest extroverts.
Layers To Remember For Hybrid Success
It is important to step for staff, clients and customers and embrace change.
There are a number of area’s which couldn’t be covered in this summary of the presentations however building the right environment must include:
Increasing the space and distance between teams and departments and how you can enable a safe environment
Fluid offices – removal of rows of desks and fixed office layout
Tech that understanding performance and apply smart but human analytics
Technology within the office with heatmaps of where people work safely
Employee wellbeing and emphasis on mental health and mental wellbeing
Talent wars and retaining staff and retaining teams
More access to natural light and allowing outdoor space
Knowing the future is hard but building towards the future in a smart and intentional way will enable you and your business for successes in the future.
If you would like to get in touch or would like a dedicated workshop on the future of work, get in touch with the details below:
Thanks for reading and looking to embrace the future of the work and the future of the workplace.
Danny Denhard – Focus Founder
Focus Dedicated Workshops
We have created dedicated remote workshops that you can book to help with your company performance, improve your company culture and start you on the road to the future of work. Get in touch if you would like more information or want to book Focus to help you fix the broken world of work.