Creating the Future of Work

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January 24, 2023


Discovery, Healing, Learning

By Melanie Harris

We seem to be incapable of predicting the future of work, because in “predicting,” we give away our power to “create” the future of work.

When my fiancé Matthew and I met two years ago, he was a merchant mariner and I, an architect. We defined who we were by what we did. Two years of exploration, change, piercing self-awareness, and growth led to the startling but obvious realization that what we are at our core, what we do, but this alone, does not make us who we are.

Many of us hastened to admit this is an eye opener with the kind of year we experienced during the pandemic. The separation from our work “space;” the increased amount of time we spent with our families, and in many cases, by ourselves; and the potential of flexibility in our lives, questioned with increasingly louder voices, the norms of work and life.

Within all of these upheavals, good and bad, we kept coming back to one question – what is the future of work? And how do we, an architect and a now social entrepreneur, but also much more than that, help frame and transform it? This article is a result of this collaboration.

We started by reframing the concept of “work.” Work has traditionally been something you do away from home to make a living. But in our human way, we have kept “making a living” apart from “living.” This was never a sustainable approach. We promoted a culture of 8-5 or a culture where you worked those overtime hours, stealing time away from your families and loved ones in return for accolades at work. The extremism of this philosophy led to many things, including nonchalance on one end and burnout on the other. The culture we created revolved around the stability of an 8-5 job or the apparent excitement of long hours at work. Neither was true nor realized, which led to further dissatisfaction

Next, we re-PURPOSE what it means to “go to work.”

The future is hybrid
While not everyone will subscribe to this idea, and it might not even be the best course of action for some, by and large, the world is accepting the hybrid work format. The ability to collaborate and have meaningful spontaneous conversations that lead to ideas and solutions that make us better together, along with the time and space to take care of those everyday needs from the convenience of home, is a winning strategy for almost everyone.

Personal awareness will amplify professional strengths
Our time at home, even during business hours, reveals our true selves. It allows us to become acutely aware of who we are in our own space and leads to deeper interactions with clients and partners. This also consciously enables individuals to commit to or divest from the culture.

Start defining the space – both virtual and physical
It is essential to consider what this evolved work environment looks like. What happens to assigned desks when they are only used a part of the week? What are the ways in which we create collaboration spaces that support exponential growth in spontaneous interactions and idea generation? Companies are looking at dynamic biometrics analysis to provide individualized experiences in respite spaces. This is an opportunity to look at well-being, focused, adaptable space that allows customization.

Equally important is the virtual interface. When almost half of our life is spent on a virtual interface, it becomes very important to make it conducive to our goals and a reflection of the culture.

Reframing this traditional view of work revolves around building a culture that empowers choices best for all instead of one that restricts and restrains. And culture, in turn, starts with belief. Movements like B-Corps and Conscious Capitalism begin with a strong belief in creating social change. They expand this into creating tribes invested in the social change being created. These cultures are mission and purpose-driven. Their core values embody the customer and employee’s well-being, not just factor them into the equation as one of many data points.

When one believes in what they do and creates a tribe around this belief, work becomes more than what you do when away from home. It becomes a meaningful part of your life – a way to impact positive change and success for the individual, the company, and the community at large.

Creating the Future of Work