Flex Summit Roundtable on The Future of Flexible Work
The Flex Summit is here and time is running out to be part of the premier event of leaders engaged in the future of flexible work. We sat down with some of the speakers to discuss their advice for business leaders who are looking to redefine their organization’s flexible work culture and policies over the next five to ten years.
What is one piece of advice that you would give business leaders who want to embrace flexible work and transform their organizations over the next five to ten years?
Give people two things, autonomy and responsibility. Ensure that everyone in the business has enough responsibility to feel part of the organization's success without being overloaded. And give them the autonomy to fulfill those responsibilities in the manner they believe is best, experimenting and optimizing, but also using their own time most effectively.
Dr. Alaa Murabit, United Nations:
In order to get flexible work and digital transformation right, business leaders should prioritise an organizational culture of inclusion and advance a company purpose that aligns with the SDGs. There is overwhelming empirical evidence that shows how inclusion and purpose are generally beneficial for the business growth but more specifically may avoid the pitfalls of disengagement, mental health challenges and proliferated inequalities as consequences of flexible work and digital transformation. Mobilizing those solutions towards ending gender and racial discrimination and inequality at the workplace additionally means realizing a trillion-dollar business potential. Inclusion, equality, and diversity lead to improved work environments, high morale, enhanced productivity and an overall better business.
Michael Hopkins, The Solo Project:
Never forget that it’s about the people. Technology is magic. And complex. It’s hard to exploit technology perfectly. But here’s what’s more complicated than the most complicated machine: any group of humans trying to make things happen together. Technology’s capacity to make flexible work possible is what will make flexible work the norm. But we’ll need to remember that tech is also dehumanizing—and that work, when it’s dehumanized, gets very bad very quickly. So the challenge, even as flex-enabled collaboration totally reframes the limits of what we thought our organizations could accomplish, will be to invent the smartest ways for two people who never share a space to feel like they’re working right beside each other.
Ryan Merkley, Creative Commons:
Two seemingly contradictory statements: be intentional and thoughtful in your move to more distributed work, and don’t wait for it to be perfect. The most important thing is to accept that if one person is remote, everyone that works with them has to adopt remote working skills and approaches to make sure they can be engaged and contribute fully. You’re skilling up the whole team, not just the person who works off-site.
Sophie Wade, Flexcel Networks:
Flexible working is a mindset first and policy second. It really means recognizing that every one of your employees is an individual and has their own 'optimal working profile’ as I call it. Employers can then use this approach to help their employees understand how, where, and when they work best, and then trial a new work configuration. After testing and some adjustment to fit with team members’ schedules and needs, the outcome can be a real win-win. Mindset first!
Meaghan Williams, HubSpot:
My advice to business leaders who want to embrace flexible work is to be intentional with your efforts in setting expectations for flexible work to ensure that your employees are set up for success from the start. Start small and be open to feedback along the way so that the process evolves in a way that resonates with your company culture. Flexible work can be an incredible, mutually beneficial option for both the employee and the employer, but it is an inherently different way of working and requires adaptability from all parties to be effective.
Elias Torres, Drift:
I would say that the most important thing is if you make a decision, stick with it. If you decide a remote workforce makes sense, then close down all offices and commit 100%. Because when everyone is remote -- people need to get their work done and communicate virtually. But when you don’t go all in, and have a few people working remotely and others in-person, those remote workers will undoubtedly feel like second class citizens. They don’t get all of the key information, don’t fully embrace the culture, and aren’t able to relate to their co-workers.
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