Designing the future of work

A new year and a new commitment to updating this blog a bit more frequently than once every year… I’ve decided that little (ie more than I can fit into a tweet) and often(ish) might be the way to go. Let’s see…

A theme that’s popped up in quite a few of my conversations recently has been how to design a work environment that’s fit for the modern age and which will help our organisations attract our next generation of superstars. It’s a tricky and fascinating topic, full of competing tensions:

  • how do we shift our management cultures from managing activity to delivery of outcomes?
  • if trust is key to this (I think it is), how do we shift our attitudes to risk, especially if the consequences of something going awry could lead to reputational or financial damage?
  • when we design our services, processes and technology how do we get the right balance between the needs of our more experienced staff and those of the newer generations, who are likely to be more familiar with Snapchat than the tools we thought were cutting edge in the 1990s but which often still prevail today?
  • and how can we make sure that work is meaningful, harnessing our people’s motivations to deliver the best results?

I suspect that there isn’t a template answer to this (and I don’t think it’s a sector specific challenge — this applies to public and private sector organisations) and that the key is to tune into the organisation and find the right stepping stones to get moving in the right direction. But I’m sure that the answer is not to simply maintain existing paradigms and try to squeeze those into new technologies and ways of working (which will probably get you to this sort of thing:

Here are a few of the links which I’ve found thought provoking:

  • this video on the future of work: (I thought this was a great explanation of the idea that ‘work is a thing you do, not a place’)
  • Matt’s #noPC challenge: (my take on this is that it’s about more than just not restricting people to using PCs to get their work done, there’s a real need for purposeful focus on designing services and tools that enable the widest possible choice and flexibility)
  • Ben Thompson’s analysis of the impact that Amazon’s Alexa might have on the future of computing: (‘normal’ / ‘what I’m used to’ is not the same as ‘eternal’, and be mindful of the potential for shiny things to lure you into a vortex you weren’t expecting…)
  • and I also found Simon Sinek’s thoughts on the Millennial generation really interesting: (15 mins, watch it through)