What Some of the World's Leading Companies Can Teach You About the Future of Work

Last week, the FOWCommunity (that I helped create) held our first "future of work" forum in San Francisco. We had around 40 attendees that were hosted at the corporate offices of Udemy, and Polycom took everyone out to dinner.

The goal of the community and the forum is to bring together the world's most forward thinking organizations to explore what the future of work is going to look like, and what companies are doing to adapt. Members include companies such as: Wells Fargo, Whirlpool, MasterCard, Polycom, Kohl's, AON, PwC, Accenture, Cisco, Sanofi, Agios and around 30 other companies. Our speakers included:

  • Pat Wadors -- Chief Human Resources Officer of Linkedin
  • Anna Binder -- VP of People at Mulesoft
  • Antonia Cusumano -- Principal at PwC
  • Paul Sebastien and Dan Chou -- VP and GM of Udemy for business and Director of Sales
  • Gloria Burke -- Chief Knowledge Officer of Unisys
  • Rich Pearson -- SVP of Elance-Odesk
  • Stuart Poole -- Corporate Wellness at Fitbit
  • Aaron Taylor Harvey -- Environments Design Lead at Airbnb

Here are the main takeaways:

Anna Binder, VP, People, MuleSoft: Culture Is Not Beer on Fridays. How to Develop a Culture That Matters and Will Help You Win. At Mulesoft, the head of HR is the CEO who personally interviews and speaks with every candidate that comes through their doors. They hire based on three core areas: Are you a good human? Are you smart? Do you DWIT (do what it takes?) to get things done? Anna also shared her thoughts on what a strong corporate culture should demonstrate, which is:

  • Transparency -- At Mulesoft, everyone has full information on the company and the offices are organized in a way that promotes and fosters collaboration, they have open spaces and also places where employees can get some quiet/alone time.
  • Connected -- Leverage technology to share and connect with people and information.
  • Autonomy -- MuleSoft has an "unvacation" policy, which demonstrates trust, and management leads by example. Their expense policy is "spend money as if it were your own." They've found that 95 percent of people will behave well 95% of the time.
  • Diversity -- A more diverse workforce leads to a better outcome.
  • Ownership -- DWIT/GSD; Empower employees at the lowest level possible. At MuleSoft, equity is more heavily dispersed to those who embody ownership. They also give out ownership awards, which are nominated by peers.

You can learn more by listening to this podcast I did with Mulesoft or by watching this video I did at their offices.

Pat Wadors, VP of Global Talent, Linkedin: Leading and Engaging the Millennial Workforce. Millennials are going to be 50 percent of the workforce by 2020 and 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, clearly this is a generation that is worth paying attention to. At Linkedin around 70 percent of their employees are comprised of millennials. During her session, she shared that the main motivators for millennials are:

  • Vision
  • Empowerment
  • Accountability
  • Passion
  • Purpose
  • Choice/Flexibility
  • Freedom to Explore

It was also interesting to learn that Pat sees the career trajectory for millennials as being different than that of other generations. For millennials, it's more of a journey instead of a "ladder climb." In order to best engage millennials, careers should be developed through imagination, conversation and self-discovery. To learn more you can listen to the podcast I did with Pat Wadors.

Toni Cusumano, Principal, Technology Sector People and Change Lead, PwC: The Future of Work -- Journey to 2022 and the Three Worlds of Work. Toni shared some of the work and research she has been doing around the three worlds of work, which are outlined below:

Blue World
  • Corporate is king
  • Capitalism reigns
  • Globalizers take center stage
  • Corporate careers rule
Green World
  • Companies care
  • Social conscience is important
  • Change
  • Ethics take center stage
Orange World
  • Small is beautiful
  • Big is bad
  • Freelancers reign
  • Smaller networks become more relevant

To ensure future success, companies must identify which "world" they envision their future to exist in and strategize accordingly. Toni also shared some of the mega-trends that are shaping the future of work, which include:

  • Demographic shifts
  • Shifts in global economic power (emerging countries)
  • Rapid urbanization (massive movement toward mega-cities)
  • Change in resource scarcity (increase in need/usage for water, energy and food)
  • Tech breakthroughs (connected devices)

To learn more you can read this article I wrote on the three worlds of work or listen to this podcast I did with Toni.

Paul Sebastien, VP and GM, Udemy for Business and Dan Chou, Director of Sales for Udemy for Business: Why Online Training is No Longer a Nice to Have, But a Must-Have. As the world of work changes rapidly, corporate learning and development programs are becoming outdated. It's no longer acceptable for organizations to offer learning in the form of booking classes weeks or months in advance, sitting in a room and staring at ppt presentations, reading manuals and teaching things that have long since been outdated. Companies must invest in skills training in a way where they can access, learn and teach at will (and around the areas they want). Learning should be scalable to:

  • Synchronize across teams
  • Reach remote employees
  • Provide ability to access content anywhere/anytime

Gloria Burke, Chief Knowledge Officer, Unisys: Culture Transformation: The Key to Maximizing Value from Enterprise Social Business Technologies. For the past few years Unisys has been embarking on a mission to create a truly collaborative organization enabled by technology and led by strategy. The key at Unisys to creating an organization where employees and information are connected anywhere, anytime, and on any device as the following:

  • Establish a shared vision and objectives
  • Ensure leadership alignment
  • Drive engagement through communication and awareness campaigns
  • Provide education and training
  • Establish incentives and recognition programs
  • Implement governance and policies
  • Establish effective metrics and measurement

Rich Pearson, SVP, Elance-oDesk: The Rise of Freelancing and How to Create Flexible Teams. The freelancer economy is now infiltrating every industry/category in every geography around the world. According to a recent study done by SAP and Oxford Economics, 83 percent of executives plan on increasing their investment in the contingent workforce. Platforms and marketplaces around the freelancer economy are emerging that make it easy for freelancers and organizations to connect and work with each other. Organizations like using freelancers because of their ability to quickly scale up or down, and the ability to tap into a global talent pool. People are becoming freelancers because they are able to pick the projects they work on, set their own hours, and be their own boss. The freelancer economy is a big part of the future of work!

Stuart Poole, Corporate Wellness, FitBit: Improve Employee Health... And Your Bottom Line. Wearables are making their way into our personal lives, but also into our organizations. In fact, wearables in terms of wellness encompass pretty much every aspect of our lives including personal, family, social, friends, and of course, the workplace. Stuart shared that wearables are becoming much less about devices and much more about a certain type of lifestyle. The biggest trends in wearables are:

  • Access and ease of use -- making it as easy as possible
  • Connectability and social factors -- creating dashboards and leaderboards, involving friends and family, connecting multiple platforms, and integrating with social channels
  • Flexibility is important -- being able to access on multiple devices, wear them in multiple ways, and letting the user customize them in as many ways as possible

Our next even is currently being planned for sometime in October where we will have more amazing speakers and attendees exploring the future of work. It's amazing to get so many leading companies together to share insights and exchange ideas. I hope you will find this brief recap valuable, and hopefully, you can take some of these ideas and bring them back to your company!

Jacob Morgan is a futurist, best-selling author and keynote speaker, learn more by visiting The Future Organization.com or check out his latest book,"The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders and Create a Competitive Organization," on Amazon.