After a couple of years of reexamining their priorities, will employees accept the idea of going back to any form of a rigid work environment? Does a five-day work week still represent an optimal work schedule? Do we have to be present at the office to maintain our culture and our channels of communication? Will burnout still be overlooked? Do we still have to live in the same region, city, or even country where the company is based?

When companies and employees were forced to let their guards down in order to survive difficult times, an intrinsic journey took place; one so collective and powerful that it led to a shift in the way work is done across the world.

After this occurrence, we witnessed movements like “the great resignation” and the launch of four-day work weeks in some countries. Perhaps these events may have happened eventually regardless of the pandemic. And perhaps this period of exploration and awakening has planted within both employees and employers the courage to pursue unconventional work models that meet the needs of the current workforce and address the challenges of a volatile market.

So, the big question remains: What is the future of work?

Organizations need to work on those three criteria in order to ensure a sustainable future: 

  1. Adaptive organizations: The focus on being agile and doing what really matters

Many companies did that well at the beginning of the pandemic, but we have to make sure not to get sidelined by the day-to-day and get distracted from building and maintaining a lean organization focused on innovation.  The key to this is achieving a permanent state of adaptability by integrating the ability to adapt into the company’s DNA. This signifies developing the mechanisms to handle whatever crisis comes along, be it environmental, financial, technological, or health related. Adaptive Organizations concurrently address customer adaptability and scaled efficiency. They achieve an effective balance through agile talent deployment and business models. Moreover, to enable an adaptive organization, flexible governance models are impactful which implies having servant leadership and an empowered workforce.

After all, the journey to becoming an agile organization is a sequence of small, incremental transformations. Organizations must determine how much autonomy and agility is required for their particular strategy.

  1. New talent models: Having a fluid non-hierarchical organizational chart

Based on the principle of managing by objectives, adaptive organizations focus on creating an ecosystem of talent that includes freelancers, part-timers, and remote workers as part of the equation.

Traditional approaches often force the organization to work functionally or in a matrix environment without a clear comprehension of the positive influence of human networks. On the contrary, organizations should observe and unravel how teams naturally interact with one another and with customers, and accordingly create the versatile teams, fluid hierarchy, and communication channels that support these human interactions. Enabling direct interactions, both planned and unplanned, between individuals within the company allows people to exchange ideas and experiences. Dynamic networking is an excellent breeding ground for decision-making and achieving common objectives.

  1. Elevate Purpose and Culture: Placing purpose at the heart of work culture 

People want to work in a company that does things that matter and an environment that is fulfilling for them. Employees who have discovered their purpose are 49% more likely to report intrinsic motivation, 33% more likely to express higher job satisfaction, and 25% more likely to go the extra mile, according to a London School of Economics research. 

There are many ways to bring this to life:

  • Accompany employees on their path to finding their purpose and assist them in asking the right questions.
  • Encourage employees to pursue passion projects that  nourish their purpose.
  • Mobilize employees to participate in resolving today’s pressing social and environmental challenges.

People nowadays are continuously searching for ways to stay relevant, skilled, and agile and organizations should be searching for ways to tailor to those needs. As employees explore their options, they seek employers that support their growth. Adaptive organizations that capitalize on purpose-driven cultures and adopt flexible talent models are the future of work.

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