Is the ‘Future Of Work’ conversation played out?
It’s certainly less intense than it was because a lot of things have settled out.
Here’s my take on what’s DONE, what’s NOT DONE and what could be COMING.
(A longer and more expansive version of this is in the ‘Decrapify Work Not-Newsletter’ that I put out this week.)
The office is dead
Well, the office as we knew it is certainly dead. There will be offices in the future but they are going to be fewer and very different to the ‘bog standard’ desk factory of the past.
The commute is dead
It was nuts, wasn’t it? Now we know, we’re not going back. People are not giving up the savings in time, costs and, perhaps more crucially, energy.
Hybrid is here to stay
The old default was the 5-day office week, the new default is hybrid. Employees want less office time than bosses, which is why. Return To Office mandates have failed.
We’re moving towards a multitude of solutions
Everyone used to mostly do ‘office work’ the same way. Now everyone is going to have to do it differently, do it the way that uniquely suits their organisation. We’re seeing a lot of divergent developments and many different approaches being brought in. It’s exciting!
We’re not going back to ‘normal’
Which is good news because it turns out that the old ‘normal’ was a bit crap, as we can all now see.
The ‘new normal’
There probably won’t be one. It’s best to assume that and stop waiting for it.
How many, where, what for and what will they look like?
Less but better is the direction of travel here.
Part of the solution, especially for the ‘near to home’ piece. Overlaps with FLEX, it’s still a developing market, new categories will emerge.
We have the basics to run organisations in a distributed way but we’re just at the start of the development of powerful tech platforms that support asynchronous and new ways of working.
Hierarchical, command-and-control power structures remain the default and predominant organisational model but have increasingly become dysfunctional and unsuited to the modern environment. Will more agile, adaptable, sustainable and profitable organisational forms just outcompete them?
The future of work has to be about realising the potential of people, of enabling them to have well-lived lives.
Organisations should move towards giving their employees greater autonomy and the agency to take action on what they see as the priorities and the problems.
I think many successful organisations of the future will have largely dismantled hierarchy and its power structures and consist of small, autonomous, self-organising teams that are networked together on powerful technology platforms, serviced by a small core of support functions.
So that’s where I think we are on the Future Of Work. The conversation needs to move on now, or rather it needs to expand, to be about the Future Of Living.