- January 25, 2017
- in Future of Work
- by Amanda Maksymiw
World Economic Forum: Flexibility is a Top-Down Initiative to Usher in the Future of Work
Last week in Davos, global leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum to share insights and innovations on how best to navigate breakthrough technologies, demographic shifts, and political transformations.
Numerous socio-political factors have contributed to a period of rapid change, from Brexit to new tensions in the Middle East. Experts are saying to “expect the unexpected” and prepare for inevitable disruption. But amidst uncertainty lies excitement. Innovation is inspiring new processes, enabling people to do more with greater access to information and with new technology at their fingertips.
What does this mean for the average worker? Disruption, after all, can be positive and negative. To help people reap the benefits of an increasingly connected world, leaders must be talent champions. Furthermore, retention will become increasingly important as the mobile workforce becomes the norm and people cross geographic boundaries to learn, work, and play more freely.
How can leaders be talent champions? Embody flexibility, integrating people, processes, and technology in ways that foster collaboration and productivity.
In an article published on the WEF website last week, CEO of Adecco Group Alain Dehaze had this to say on the topic:
Warp speed developments in technology – automation, artificial intelligence and the arrival of the sharing economy – are transforming how we work. Beyond technology, traditional working patterns are also being disrupted by changes in society, organizations and workforce management, leading to the rise of a more independent and dispersed workforce.
Flexibility is, indeed, the key to this new age, with around 30% of the US and European working population already free agents. The “job for life” no longer exists, while the “multi-career” is the norm.
Leaders at WEF considered multi-disciplinary responses to this truth: government, higher education, and business must equally commit to flexibility as their call to action for policies, projects, and training. As Dehaze put it, “As the world we live in is so unpredictable, the ability to learn and to adapt to change is imperative, alongside creativity, problem-solving, and communication skills.”
It’s up to business leaders to set the example for others: With the average work week in the US tapped at 47 hours, people need ways to channel their energy to be productive with their time. This will help them sustain quality ideas and contribute to their companies and communities without burning out.
Incorporating greater flexibility into the workplace requires organizational change: Structural changes are empowering more people to weigh in regardless of seniority. The way leaders engage with junior team members and encourage them to find work styles that bring out their best thinking will help spark new ideas, especially as Millennials rise in the modern workforce: “As workers gain more independence, organizations are becoming flatter and more interconnected, with unprecedented changes in leadership highlighting the importance of collaboration and results over traditional corporate hierarchies and authority.”
Technology ties it all together: Collaboration sits at the center of the user experience. By introducing mobility into traditional business communications, organizations can in turn introduce flexibility into their operations and achieve more with their biggest investment: their people.
A recurring theme throughout WEF, technology is an important part of the equation to help business and community leaders adeptly navigate uncertainty and change in an era of disruption. Bringing greater flexibility to the way we communicate is a step in the right direction to meet the demands of the future – and one we’re committed to tackling.