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Understanding the Future of Work

Jobs are offered on the basis that you can be paid less than what your output is worth. For accepting these terms, the company will arbitrate some risks on your behalf. You don’t have to worry about mission statements, employee satisfaction surveys, or a regular source of income. The income you get paid is an investment. The company takes on risk by training you in hopes that you will stay long enough to reward their investment. Once the difference between what you are paid and what you are worth is notable, the company will offer a raise or promotion.

Companies themselves are an investment by the people that work in them. You, as an employee, are investing in the company. Each hour that you spend working is time you are giving to that company. Ideally, you are building both your worth and the worth of the company. Higher output at either side, the company or employee, should be reflected in best case scenarios at the other end.

How do you improve this process? You can do this in two ways: increase investment in the company or increase investment in the employee. The most obvious type of investing is financial, though as I’ve highlighted you can invest in other ways. Both the company and the employee should invest in a way that optimizes the success of the other. The mechanics of this process are the ‘future of work’, as more things we take for granted by top performers become standardized and systemized.

The first way this is done is messaging. Even if a prospective employee hasn’t interacted with a company, they have friends who they trust and whose opinions they would consult. The future of work requires high quality messaging to people even before they formally interact with your company. Therefore, one aspect of the future of work is building consistent, high quality messaging. This requires that every interaction with your company or anyone in your company is positive for the person at the other end. This is why there has been a proliferation of customer success positions - as tech scales, it is much harder to scale support. This also means that support needs to be where the customer is. Most often, customers today are on their phones. Companies should be easy to work with in the mobile age, with mobile-optimized interfaces and communication. In the future, they will be in virtual reality, which brings with it its own set of challenges.

Once a prospect has entered formal discussion with the company for a position, they should have constant and quick feedback. It is not enough to leave the prospect in limbo until your next message. The prospect should always know what is being assessed and when the next assessment is going to be. This shows the candidate that they are valued and that the company is good at supporting them in their prospective tasks. If the candidate does not know, and other assessments are providing that feedback, the candidate may lean towards those companies. And if the candidate is not moved forward, the company should still be proactive in rejection. Even a rejection should still feel like a conversation, because ideally the candidate should up-skill and join the firm later. Therefore, the future of work requires an interview process which is fair, fast, and efficient.

Once an employee is in a company, they should be able to work in the way that best promotes their success and the success of others. Remote work has become very popular due to removing the need to commute and tools which have made it much easier. Additionally, time spent commuting is difficult to make productive but is essentially added to the time spent at a role. Commuting is also not perfect, so delays can cause further issue to commuters. This means that remote work is a helpful solution if the role and tools support it. Remote work has its own share of problems, but because it is more prominent today, these problems will likely become lesser in the years to come. The employees should also grow with the requirements of their roles, which means up-skilling. They should have access to a learning portal or be informed of industry trends. Part of this process requires internal communication to ensure employees are excited about the mission of the company. The other part requires proper management of talent to ensure they have the skills needed for succession planning.

Succession planning is the final segment of the future of work. Now that you have great, enabled employees, how do you make sure once they leave (which should be rarely), you can fill in their roles and responsibilities? This is where succession planning comes into the picture. Being able to identify and quantify what makes a good employee is also key to identifying which internal candidates can take their place. It also requires that it is as easy to find a new role internally as it is to find a new role externally. That means that an internal job board as well as internal champions supporting growth and visibility for other is required. If a highly skilled employee feels undervalued, they will take their talent and your investment elsewhere. As such, it is important that employees have a clear growth path and are recognized for their actions.

Once all of these parts are moving together, a company is embracing the future of work. Just like the future of other industries, it is often not one practice but multiple that lend success. Therefore, the degree to which these practices are embraced is a signal for the total success of a company against the future of work. By using them in tandem, a company will support a healthier and more successful workforce. This lends growth and success to the company. Growth and success allows the company to hire more, and then the cycle continues. Building a successful workforce is difficult, but doing so successfully and embracing best practices requires investment in the future of work.