Resources: Blog Post

November 18, 2015

3 take-aways from the Future of Work Forum


New York was the perfect venue for my inaugural Future of Work Forum last month. Iíve only been to New York a few times, but I always come away feeling Iíve had some sort of sensory overload. In a positive way, the Future of Work Forum had the same impact on me!

For those of you who donít know, the Future of Work Community is a global brand council that gives companies a platform to explore how the workplace is changing. This was their second Forum and it included presentations and conversations with a diverse range of speakers, including the HR leads from AARP, Cisco, Pandora and Staples, the CIOs of Xerox and IBM, the CEO of frog and Brian Robertson, the founder of holacracy.

It was a brilliant two days Ė we covered a broad range of fascinating topics including the macro changes to work, the importance of corporate culture and leadership, the future of people analytics, how to lead change and holacracy. I took copious notes including lists of ideas and follow-up actions, but I thought Iíd challenge myself to summarize all of my take-aways in to three top nuggets!

1. Something remarkable is happening to the world of work

Recent articles by Ayelet Baron and Gustavo Tanaka proclaim that something remarkable is happening in the world that is affecting our traditional definition of work. These messages were strongly reinforced at the FOW Forum. As Tracy Brower from Mars Drinks outlined in her talk, the best organizations think about the whole person and focus on the need for collaboration, engagement and well-being.

2. HR is stepping up and taking the lead

I was impressed to hear from the HR leaders who are all heading the charge on the future of work within their respective organizations. Whether weíre talking about Staples, Pandora or Cisco, HR is playing the most critical role, acting as champion and challenger. One common element in all of their approaches is how they are leveraging the leadership within their respective organizations to enable change Ė particularly senior leadership. While I learnt a lot about the world of holacracy from Brian Robertson, it seems that in traditional hierarchical organizations, things get a whole lot easier when there is buy-in from the top!

3. Personalization of the employee experience is the new promised land

Do you remember when you used to be able to get what now seems like a very old fashioned coffee with milk? We didnít appreciate what we have come to expect now with our oh-so-specific personalized coffee orders. While no-one claimed to have all the answers, itís clear from the Forum that the world of work is going through a similar stage of personalization. The employee experience must now meet the needs of a diverse workforce Ė be it permanent employees, freelancers, baby boomers, millennials or just people that want to be treated as individuals. The challenge is how we deliver that level of personalization while maintaining an equal focus on efficiency.

While this brief summary doesnít do justice to two days of inspiration and learning, I hope it sparks some interest for you as you continue your own journey to the future.

Did you attend the World of Work Forum? What were your takeaways?
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About the Author

Photo of Mark EdgarMark Edgar joined RSA in January 2011 in the role of Vice President, Human Resources with overall responsibility for HR across all companies within RSA Canada. Previously Mark was based in the UK as Head of Human Resources within Centrica Plc; a major energy company operating in the UK under the British Gas brand. Mark has also worked for BSkyB, a TV, broadband and phone company, in an HR role responsible for their operational business units and customer facing teams. Mark holds a BSc (Hons) in Management Sciences from the University of Warwick and is a member of The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

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