Up until 2020, the concept of work hadn’t changed much for decades. Most professionals lurched into an 8-5:00 a.m. workday. They attended tedious meetings. They endured slow commutes.
The COVID crisis represented a great awakening, in which people realized that work, like everything else, is subject to massive and sometimes abstracting changes.
How can leaders prepare for the technological and cultural shifts that will signal a new era of work?
To help answer this question, on March 30, 2021, VENYU debuted its first virtual event on the subject, titled the “Future of Work.”
The online presentation was hosted by Noah Boudreaux, General Manager of VENYU, who was joined by Adrian Owen Jones, AVP of the LSU Foundation, a fundraising and granting organization serving Louisiana State University.
The two hosts comprise decades of technology leadership experience. Noah’s 20-year tenure spanned several tech disciplines, while Adrian’s many years working with technology brought her to multiple non-profit fundraising and foundation positions.
Here’s what the two had to say about how leaders should prepare for the future of work:
Consider the Framework of Change
Change, like most concepts, has a structure. In the presentation, Noah Shared some wisdom from futurist, TED Speaker, and published author Jacob Morgan, who posits that leaders should prepare for the future of work with a focus on six main areas:
- Purpose, meaning, and vision
- Pace of change
- Technology and AI
- Talent landscape
- Global community
- Ethics and transparency
Of these, the first point is especially important, says Noah.
“Purpose, meaning, and vision involve how to convey a message to an organization of people and how you get them on board,” he says. “What I’ve seen and what I’ve heard from others is that people have a lot of options these days. Work is very flexible, so the more able you are to connect with people and have them buy into what your company is about–the vision your creating–the more likely they are to be on board and help you.”
Understand that Iteration IS Perfection
Digital transformation is nothing if not dynamic. To embrace this fluidity, leaders need to distance themselves from antiquated practices, such as a fixation on getting it right the first time.
Rather, leaders should have a stronger bias to action, Adrian advised in the virtual event.
“It’s more important to put something out there, evaluate it, and iterate again,” says Adrian. “You don’t have to be a perfectionist right off the bat. For example, early in the pandemic, we had to do a re-org. We had to make some hard calls. We didn’t set to get it perfect. What we did was think about how we shift resource, adopt technology to improve processes, and create improvement.”
Recruit for Soft Skills, Too
Technology expertise is undoubtedly essential for most growing businesses.
But technological know-how isn’t everything, agreed both Adrian and Noah. Leaders and those they hire will need other qualities to help navigate the pace of change.
“The right kind of technical leader is someone who can be a rapid learner and who is intellectually curious,” says Adrian. “You will need staff below that level that will need tech skills, but even with those people, tech changes so rapidly that it’s essential to foster a culture of continual learning.”
Noah agreed with Adrian, and highlights the need for effective communication:
“I’m leaning into the intellectual curiosity piece. I think that the competency in technical needs to be a foundation. Having a broad sense of what’s going on and how things are changing in the industry, coupled with leadership and communication skills, is going to be more effective long term versus someone with just tech skills.”
The Future is Here
Where work is concerned, virtually nothing moves on tracks anymore; it’s all wavy blue ocean. Leaders will need to become navigators in the face of great uncertainty.
To prepare, learn the structure of the upcoming changes, get comfortable with iteration, and make sure you’re recruiting for the right skills. That way, both you as well as your team will remain flexible and forward-thinking for a strange new world.