The Future of Work – Are You Ready?

We were lucky enough to win some tickets to attend the Future of Work conference run by Management Today in London this month.

There isn’t room here to cover everything we heard during the day, so we’ll focus on the sessions that resonated with us and our birdsoup ambitions…

‘The Sum of the Parts’

‘Part-time’ isn’t a concept we like much at birdsoup. Why? Well here are our main gripes: Mainly women do it, employers don’t seem to value it as a way of working, and it’s often a barrier to career progression leading to lower salaries and work level attainment.

We believe there’s a different way to offer employees flexibility and choice with their job roles whilst still progressing and working at increasingly senior levels – job design.  The Future of Work conference focused on a type of job design for their panel discussion – job-sharing.

Alix Ainsley, HR Director from Lloyds Banking Group, and Ian Shepherd, Deputy Director (Americas) from the Department for International Trade joined Karen Mattison OBE, the founder of TimeWise, to discuss the benefits and challenges of working in a senior level job share.  Both job sharers talked about the benefits of sharing the demands of their very senior roles and it was really encouraging to hear how there were way more positives than negatives to working this way:

more confidence
• more confidence
• courage and boldness
• increased ambition for the role and job share partner
• more energy to plough into the job.

Employers who have embraced job sharing have found an increase in creativity and output, they get the full skill set required to do a ‘big’ job by hiring two people (this is often difficult to find in one individual) and the power of 2 brains for the price of 1.5.

What’s not to like we ask? This doesn’t just need to be available for mothers but for anyone who wants a different work/life balance.

‘The T Word’

Talent is a bug-bear of ours at birdsoup.  We can see why companies need to identify their high-potential employees and develop them, but the word talent is so exclusive.

Two different speakers put us all in the picture.  Gartner outlined the key trends they’ve identified in terms of the workforce of the future.

The highlights are:

• A multi-generational workforce
Millennials who want to grow and develop but still need job security.  They need challenge and a portfolio approach to a job role
Gen Z (coming up next) who crave instruction in direct contrast to millennials!
Individualised careers – the notion that the career ladder will no longer exist
The gig economy – many companies will use only freelancers

The second speaker Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic maintained that when organisations talk about the ‘war on talent’ they mean the war on leadership. He suggested that the leaders we currently have are dismal despite the money and effort that has been spent on developing them. He was worried for the future of organisations. His solution? 3D printing the ideal boss – you know it will be possible soon…

‘Become one of the Working Well’

Two sessions overlapped slightly in terms of their focus on making sure we, as employees, look after ourselves to improve our effectiveness and creativity at work. Both speakers advocated the power of enough sleep to recharge your battery.

Dr John Briffa explained how the right diet – protein+veg+fruit (v few carbs and dairy, soz carbonara fans) and remaining hydrated throughout the day produces the right amount of cortisol for us to maintain energy levels throughout the working day.

Bruce Daisley from Twitter shared his thoughts on happy working:

Get happier friends
• Work in short bursts to achieve ‘flow’
• No to presenteeism (the enemy of ‘flow’)
• Chat is good for creativity (no headphones!) – developing relationships leads to more creative work

The final interview of the conference was worth waiting for.  Sacha Romanovitch CEO of Grant Thornton LLP showed everyone how to do it.

She was authentic and warm, opinionated and charming, intelligent and well informed without being arrogant and she genuinely seemed to care.

She’s our new girl crush and we wish more CEOs were like her!

We went home from the conference full of ideas and conversation – it’s good to get some space sometimes away from our desks to let our brains breathe!!!

Photo by Georgie Cobbs on Unsplash