“What keeps you up at night?” That’s one of the thought-provoking questions the host of UC Berkeley Extension’s The Future of Work podcast, Jill Finlayson, asked during my recent appearance. Finlayson is also the Director of EDGE (Expanding Diversity and Gender Equity) in Tech Initiative at UC, and the monthly podcast she hosts focuses on the changing evolution of the workforce and the skills needed to stay competitive.
In this episode, The Humanizing of Flexible Work, we discuss the costs and benefits of flexibility, the impacts as more employees work a hybrid schedule, and who might get left behind or forgotten.
But we started our conversation with a question I’ve never been asked before: what keeps me up at night?
First, I am constantly thinking about how can I share with organizations, leaders, and individual employees what I’ve learned over nearly three decades actually transforming work so they don’t feel so overwhelmed. There is a proven path. How can I help them be as excited as I am about the possibilities of a well-executed flexible work strategy? I’ve seen the results and benefits that I call “the spark.”
Second, I still don’t think leaders truly understand that we’re not going back to the old ways of working. Without senior leader buy-in and sponsorship, a broad flexible reimagining of work is much more difficult.
And third, we are still too hyper-focused on where we work. Instead of leading with the work – purpose, values, and also job tasks – and THEN, determining together not just where, but how and when that work is done best.
It’s not that where doesn’t matter. It’s just not the most effective place to start. For example, what leads to a better outcome–setting “anchor days” and then figuring out what you’re going to do on those days onsite together, or looking first at what you need to do and then deciding if anchor days make sense and, if they do, what would the best anchor day or days be?
Yes, change is scary. But I’ve seen what happens when work is the focal point. You start to ask “How can we do this better? How can we do this more effectively?” That’s innovation in action.
Take the best of how we worked during the pandemic, and add back what was missing. That’s how you move forward to the best of what’s next and unlock new levels of performance and well-being.
But it requires a consistent process to guide that decision-making and a new set of skills for both leaders and employees. It also requires us to expand beyond hybrid and remote work, which are just two possible ways to work flexibly, and exclude nearly half of the workforce that needs to be onsite for their jobs. To fully seize the beneficial outcomes of high performance flexibility, organizations need to consider the full continuum of how, when, and where work can be done across the entire talent base.
We discuss this and much more, including my look ahead at how, when, and where I believe we’ll be working 10 to 25 years from now. Listen to the full episode.