WorkShift

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HR has a role in the future of work

In this Q&A, we sit down with Abbie Timms, our very own People Op Leads. From diving into new trends to what’s to come for the future of work, we explore how HR can guide the future of work.

  1. What excites you about the future of work?

Just to see how much freedom the future of work has given people–the freedom to be yourself, innovate, and be able to try new things all while being able to work. It’s the aspect of doing what you really want in the space of work. 

  1. How has the future of work impacted you?

The future of work has been impactful in terms of what I’ve seen and how my job has shifted a bit. I’ve seen coworkers really living and thriving in their jobs because they’ve gotten this flexibility and openness. It amazes me how roles in companies and the way we think about either job and the people in them have really changed. Nowadays, we may require less experience and education than before, and people actually have access to create and bring ideas to a company, that I don’t think they were able to before. It’s really transformed the way that we are happy in our roles, as we feel 1) so inspired and 2) trusted to create and do.  

3. Do you see the future of work as a sustainable model or temporary?

To be honest, I don’t think the future of work is going anywhere anytime soon. I don’t think it’s something that has to be sustained, as it’s a new way of life. It’s the way people want to be and live. I think the success that’s coming out from the future of work has already been seen. Businesses and companies are able to actually say, “Okay, this is working for us. And we’re going to continue down this new path and new normal.” This new normal is what it is. What’s great is that there are positives that have come from it, so it doesn’t need to be sustained on its own.

4. With the rise of technology, we’ve seen how automation has taken over. Do you think automation will inhibit the future of work?

I think automation will remove some jobs from humans and be replaced with robots or AI. But, I think that, in itself, will create new jobs and new roles where people are more focused on strategic thinking instead. And the human aspect of the role–people will pivot and be able to try new things because their role is manual labor for example. So automation will allow businesses to be more efficient, people to get their work faster, and people to explore something they wouldn’t have. I think it goes hand-in-hand with letting automation allow people to explore something new. 

5. Can you explain more about strategic thinking? 

People will be able to be a lot more creative and will be able to focus on unique ideas rather than just getting the job done. 

6. As an HR professional, how do you think the future of work will impact hiring and jobseekers?

The hiring landscape will be a lot more competitive. Jobseekers will have higher expectations from their employers when it comes to job seeking and will need to be more competitive by offering benefits. They’ll have to evaluate how they’re bringing the future of work to the company. It puts the power back in the candidates’ hands. People will be drawn to companies that have that aspect. And it’ll be a two-way street–companies will look for employees who will have the drive, the initiative, and are a cultural fit. 

6. How do you think companies can apply the future of work?

I think staying current on what workers want and what team members are needing. Also, ask your team members and workers “What is something we’re missing? What do you need from us?” Companies will really see that this is top-of-mind. 

Try something new! It never hurts to try remote work. Try going remote for a day or two and see how things go. COVID was the ultimate test, the ultimate experience, where we were curious to see if it would work. Companies can use the time they have to test things out and support it. What’s going to happen is that if they don’t, companies aren’t going to be as successful as others. 

7. What HR trends are you seeing in the future of work?

There’s a word popping up: intentionality. What it is meaning is that in order to keep a sense of culture and connection, keep the business successful and keep people happy, we have to be intentional about how we’re doing things. Whether it’s leading a virtual meeting or planning events, we have to be intentional about providing for team members. That goes hand-in-hand with figuring out how to keep employees engaged while working hybrid or remotely. 

People are starting to think, “What do I bring to a company when I’m not going into the office every day?” HR is going to have to focus on structure in roles.

Another trend is transferable skills. Moving people throughout an organization and giving them an opportunity to try new roles. I was listening to a podcast with someone who worked at Citibank & someone asked her “How could you work for the same company for 30 years?” And she actually said, “I actually had 9 roles in the company in different departments, so it felt something new every time.” I think companies will really adopt that mindset. In order to retain top talent, you have to be willing to give people the opportunity to try new things.

Little touchpoints and people staying connected. Remote work or hybrid work can be a challenge in a sense because people want to feel like they’re a part of something. We want to make sure we want to give people an opportunity to get to know each other and talk. 

8. Would you say there are there any transferable skills that are a bit more coveted in this future of work era? I feel the typical education of a 4-year degree is going to be a lot less required. What’s going to happen is people are going to be continuously learning and revisiting education throughout their lives. There are a lot of roles that relate to each other that you wouldn’t actually think would. It’s going to be important to see how we all relate in some sort. Even if you’re a product manager, you’d use all of the skills you’d use in HR: time management, organization, and working as a team. It’ll be really cool to see how people can take that throughout their lives.

Being dynamic and adaptable to that is what is going to drive the future of work. There are a lot of tech companies that can train you and lean on soft skills, because that’s who they would want as a person, and they can teach you the rest.

9. How can HR professionals guide the future of work?

I think that HR is becoming a lot more important and involved. There’s a saying within the industry, “having a seat at the table.” Back in the day, HR was just an admin role. But, there’s a new shift where it’s going to be important for HR to be present in decision-making because they have that people aspect–the aspect of understanding the people, culture, and dynamics of the company. I think it’s a way for us to guide individuals and businesses to be successful. It’s going to be encouraging intentionality in management. It’s also going to be:

  • Giving guides for feedback. Throughout our lives, we’ve been given instant gratification on feedback through social media, etc. I think that employees are going to want more feedback. So, helping people in the business deliver that. 
  • Creating ways for people to connect with touchpoints

10. Do you see the future of work contributing to work culture? How so?

The future of work isn’t working from home in our PJs. We can be dynamic, we can be this awesome workforce from around the globe, we can have access to a ton more ideas, and have a huge global pool. We can also stay up to what’s happening. What’s also being done is that we have mobility in our organization so that you don’t lose the people who are making an impact.