The Future of Work: how will our return to the office be?
This question is more charged than it appears. To answer that, we need to break down the many other questions that comprise it.
The first questions that will arise around the transformational period we are in are the following:
- How will the future turn out?
- What are the many facets of how we define work?
- Will things return to normal? And to what extent?
We live in a time of uncertainty, where insecurity has become inherent in people, especially under these conditions. Our path is unclear with many scientists, economists, and designers alike speculating what lies ahead.
The solution is to look towards the future, preferably optimistically, in an attempt to imagine how we can build it up cooperatively.
Back to the office?
Within futurism, we deal with these dilemmas by mapping uncertainties. This is only the first step.
Here at MJV, we are working on a very extensive project which we’ve dubbed: The Post-Normal Project, of course. We have been mapping out the implications of COVID-19 across several areas to try and understand what new forms organizations will take on, post-pandemic.
We mapped 4 uncertainties. And each of them has two sides.
Let’s check it out!
Collaboration and remote interaction
How will we relate to clients?
What will these new all-remote relationships be like?
- Side A: LOSS OF CONFIDENCE, DISTANCING, AND SILOS.
The old mindset believes that if you don’t see a person at their desk, you can’t trust that they are, in fact, working. This causes an even greater distance between people who, more likely than not, are already distant.
Employees start to interact only with the people with whom they are closest and work with directly.
This is because we are not trained to work virtually. According to Harvard Business Review, only 30% of companies train their employees on how to interact with digital tools.
However, this training is focused only on software use and it’s technical operation. In other words, there is little to no focus on behavioral issues. Thus, the question remains: how will our new interactions pan out? How will we deal with the social aspect of working virtually?
- Side B: NEW SKILLS AND VIRTUAL INTELLIGENCE
It is a fact that we will develop new skills. Harvard Business Review defines virtual intelligence as working healthily in the virtual environment.
To learn how to work together at a distance we must be taught since this form of collaboration is not in our nature.
Home Productivity and Time Management
What about Time Management?
How can we include others in our routine without being at the office physically?
- Side A: BACK TO YOUR 9 TO 5
There is a belief that after the pandemic is over, everyone will return to their old work routines at their respective workplaces. However, our futurist Bibiana Bosak, finds this unlikely.
She believes given the current environment we are seeing in other countries around the world, even if social isolation is no longer mandatory, social distancing will still be essential. Perhaps it will need to stay in effect much longer than we originally anticipated.
- Side B: HOME OFFICE IS THE NEW NORMAL
Remote work as the new normal presents some challenges for centralized companies with many meetings and very strict management. In addition, it requires security measures (as we pointed out previously), as well as finding routines that help us work with people who are not by our side.
NOTE! There is a future business model here called D.A.O (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) and demonstrates how to live and work in networks.
Leadership and Planning
How will business be structured?
How will the C-levels and executive boards face this?
- Side A: RUN AFTER LOSS WITH FOCUS ON THE SHORT TERM
It is the emergency’s creed: doing what is possible and not letting it happen again.
- Side B: ANTI-FRAGILITY AND INNOVATION STRATEGIES
Based on what we are learning at the moment we need to seek antifragility strategies in the face of adverse scenarios that threaten us.
There is a latent need to start thinking about risk management, crisis management while looking towards the future.
What new skills will emerge in this context?
- Side A: ACCELERATING THE OBSOLESCENCE OF PROFESSIONALS
When we start talking more about automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence it is natural for professionals to question themselves about their own obsolescence.
What will happen to me? Where will I fit in?
- Side B: SURVEY OF NEW NEEDS, SKILLS, AND PROFESSIONS
In a time of crisis, the need to adapt with ease is incredibly important.
We are not saying jobs will be lost but positions may change completely. It will then be time to look and ask yourself and see what skills of yours can contribute to this scenario – in addition to the role you already occupy, of course!
The new normal
In view of all these uncertainties, the phrase that best defines our new normal is:
“Technology will not eliminate your job, but it will eliminate your work.”
Some nontransparent costs will be eliminated (for example: commuting, lunchtime, scheduling conflicts etc.) and technology will facilitate a few things for us as well.
Many things will change for the better within this chaotic situation. For that, discipline and resilience are needed to sustain these growing pains at least until that transition is made.
Our main characteristic as humans is our ability to imagine and adapt. That is why we are able to build everything we have built to date. So, yes, we will be able to imagine new forms and formats for the uncertain reality that we are presented with.
We know that building this new normal is no easy feat. We, at MJV, have done a great deal in thinking about how we can learn and push foward remote transformation together.
We’ll take the opportunity to leave you an invitation here. More than an invitation really, a need, because despite social isolation, nobody will be able to do this alone.
Well then? Shall we build the new normal together?