Work Shifting 2.0: Redefining Normal
March 9, 2022
By Bloomberg Live
If the last two years introduced unforeseen changes at a dizzying pace, 2022 will be spent adjusting to them at the same pace, as businesses across the world regroup.
As pandemic restrictions and fears ease, Americans are going everywhere, except back to work. Business leaders spoke about how they are investing in their employees with policies and workplaces that reflect a demand for flexibility, and a hybrid working model they agree is here for the foreseeable future.
We also heard about employees in Ukraine and Russia, from experts in the office design space, as well as the U.S. Secretary of Labor on where we are and where we’re headed as a nation.
- James Burnette, Senior Director, Global Sales, LinkedIn Sales Solutions
- Zoe Chance, Author, Influence is Your Superpower
- Scott Crowder, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, BMC Software
- Rob Falzon, Vice Chair, Prudential Financial, Inc.
- Cheryl Foulkes, Senior Vice President of Team Member Experience & IT Strategy, Dell Technologies
- Molly Hellerman, Global Head of Innovation Programs, Atlassian
- Jennifer Janus, President, Pophouse Design
- Francine Katsoudas, Executive Vice President & Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer, Cisco
- Lisa Lewin, CEO, General Assembly
- Peter Miscovich, Managing Director, Strategy & Innovation, Consulting, JLL
- Rosie Nguyen, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Fanhouse
- Bryan Palma, CEO, Trellix
- Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President, Modern Work, Microsoft
- Alain Sylvain, Founder & CEO, SYLVAIN
- Warren Valdmanis, Partner, Two Sigma Impact
- Katherine Von Jan, Chief Strategy Officer, Salesforce Innovation
- Martin J. Walsh, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor
- Jennifer Weber, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, ADM
- Sean Woodroffe, Senior Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer, TIAA
- Emma Williams, Corporate Vice President, Modern Work Transformation, M365 Microsoft
- Matthew Boyle, Senior Business Reporter, Bloomberg
- Nicole Bullock, Editor, Bloomberg
- Arianne Cohen, Global Business Correspondent, Bloomberg
- Sarah Green Carmichael, Editor & Columnist, Bloomberg Opinion
- Caroline Hyde, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
- Pooja Malpani, Chief Technology Officer, Bloomberg Media
- Carol Massar, Anchor, Bloomberg Businessweek Television and Radio
- Tim Stenovec, Anchor, Bloomberg Quicktake, Co-Host, Bloomberg Businessweek Radio
- David Westin, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
In Conversation With Francine Katsoudas, Executive Vice President & Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer, Cisco
Workers are prioritizing quality of life after finding “a new way to work,” said Francine Katsoudas. It follows that management needs to be more aware and understanding of what’s going on in employees’ personal lives.
At the beginning of March, Cisco reopened it’s offices with a celebration prompted by employees who said how much they missed seeing people. But hardly anyone showed up. There has to be a “why,” such as a team event, to get workers to break from a less stressful work style, Katsoudas predicted. “It’s not a blip. People want flexibility and choice and they will go where they can get it.”
On the war, she said they had about 70 employees in Ukraine, who are safe, and many more in Russia, now on paid leave. “It’s heavy, and it’s hard,” Katsoudas said.
In Conversation With Rob Falzon, Vice Chair, Prudential Financial, Inc.
Many of their workers feel better off financially now compared to a year ago, but 70-percent say they don’t feel secure. “It’s about benefits, not just compensation,” Falzon said. “It’s really about a life/work balance.” That requires flexibility and career development. How serious are workers? One-third of those changing jobs took a paycut.
Falzon spoke about Prudential’s hybrid work policies, about not forcing anything yet, of missing the in-person culture that strengthens a company, and the “disconnect” of managers, nearly half of whom don’t think hybrid is working.
Amidst a trend of workers improving their skill set, 70-percent of job applicants don’t have the e required skills. “That’s a minor crisis.”
In Conversation With Warren Valdmanis, Partner, Two Sigma Impact
“Because most jobs suck,” Warren Valdmanis said, when asked about the “Great Recession.” Companies are not investing in people, and the education system is not preparing our workforce, he added. He spoke about how “toxic” work cultures are more of an issue than pay, yet, less than 10-percent of employees can define their company’s mission, undermining that important sense of accomplishment.
Valdmanis offered specific examples of the attempt at solutions, such as Home Depot, which offered “danger pay” early in the pandemic. “Wall Street savagely punished them, believing they were taking money from investors,”
In Conversation With Zoe Chance, Author, Influence is Your Superpower
“Everyone who’s saying, ‘How can we retain our workforce?’ is also part of the workforce,” Zoe Chance said of the obvious, yet overlooked. The empowerment that workers are feeling, the leverage demand is giving them, is fostering not just a desire, but a need to do better. At the same time, expectations need to be lowered to prevent burnout, along with providing better tools for productivity.
Half of employees who left jobs blame a bad boss. Research shows 90-percent of workers have “bad bosses.” “We need to find out why,” Chance said.
In Conversation With Lisa Lewin, CEO, General Assembly
Along with “rewiring” General Assembly from its entirely in-person customer experience, came a need to rebuild trust, Lisa Lewin said.
During the pandemic, many workers had their YOLO moment and took a leap of faith to do something new, but needed a secure landing place. For many, that’s an IT job. Still, there’s about 350,000 openings with no one qualified to fill them.
A hurdle rarely mentioned is how hard being a student again can be; having the “skill to reskill.”
While business leaders are comfortable being the expert in the room, learning is key to moving forward, Lewin said,
LinkedIn Sales Solutions & Salesforce Advisory Board Spotlight
James Burnette, Senior Director, Global Sales, LinkedIn Sales Solutions spoke about pandemic silver linings that forced transformative business approaches, especially in B2B sales, where relationships need to be rebuilt through tech tools, as well as opportunities to rethink frameworks and efficiency.
Empathy. Katherine Von Jan, Chief Strategy Officer, Salesforce Innovation, said advancing how leaders are listening to their employees is the first step. “Go deep. Be human. Don’t just listen. Take action. 43-percent of employees say their company does nothing with feedback.”
On trends: Von Jan said employee investment needs to extend to child, elder and pet care, and a collaboration between business and nonprofits. “No one is driving a solution.”
The New Human Resources
Becoming a trusted, science-based news source for the part of the workforce that can’t work remotely was vital for ADM, which is part of the global critical supply chain, said Jennifer Weber, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, ADM.
Sean Woodroffe, Senior Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer, TIAA called the pandemic “a wonderful two years” in the respect it gave HR a chance to pivot to an engendered environment, and develop ways to help then-distanced employees talk more openly.
Weber added that it showed how companies can be too policy-oriented, and the importance of involving workers in decisions.
There were cheers from the live audience when Woodroffe said that for the first time, career mobility within a company is being measured, and a metric is driving the corporate bonus scorecard.
On Ukraine, Weber said only that they have 630 employees there.
In Conversation With Alain Sylvain, Founder & CEO, SYLVAIN
Sylvain offered a slideshow presentation on “hypefeast,” going all the way back to 1998 to use the Beanie Baby craze as an example, with collections being physically divided up in divorce court and smuggled over the Canadian border. He questioned if The Beatles were the best band ever, or simply over-hyped. Sylvain spoke about the “collective hallucination” of hype, the decline in kinship and collective identities gained from group activities and the explosive use of social media, while those same users report feeling lonely and unconnected.
“In the last 50 years, there have been only one or two major inventions,” Sylvain said; a thought-provoking statement. “Companies don’t have real value to offer because there is nothing really new.”
In Conversation With Rosie Nguyen, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Fanhouse
The need to turn her personal platform into a revenue source, in a place where it is safer to be herself, inspired Nguyen to move behind a paywall. She spoke about empowering others to do the same, and is attracting lots of new creators, many female or non-binary. “Post-pandemic, it’s the new normal, but we’ve always been and always will be remote first,” Nguyen said of their global network of employees. Prompted, she said top earners on Fanhouse make close to $80,000 per month
Atlassian Advisory Board Spotlight: Re-Imagining the Future of Work
One year into the experiment of remote working, there were compelling takeaways, said Molly Hellerman, Global Head of Innovation Programs, Atlassian. It turned out, effective workers made decisions that factored in what was best for themselves, their families and their work team, “Building the future of work by living in it.”
“Worker flexibility has become an expectation and a crucial factor in attracting top talent,” Hellerman said. “We included employees on the journey so they were heard and supported.”
Tech and the Bottom Line
In Conversation With Bryan Palma, CEO, Trellix
Real-time, war-time and the “new frontier” of risk potential with leagues of workers outside corporate tech bubbles are the battleground Palma and Trellix fight on every day. It’s “soulful versus soulless” work because the cybersecurity mission is a culture that employees believe in. As an industry, it has hit the $200 billion mark, with 16-percent growth. Palma’s advice; “Assume you’re breached, and battle back.” He spoke of “dwell-time,” where “someone is always doing things in your company’s space,” how Russia has not yet used their full cyber capabilities against Ukraine, and securing the future, especially cryptocurrency which is about to take off.
In Conversation With Cheryl Foulkes, Senior Vice President of Team Member Experience & IT Strategy, Dell Technologies
How much of hybrid working will stick? “A ton, and I’m super excited about it,” Foulkes said. She likes the more level playing field provided by everyone being a face on a screen. “Everyone has a voice now. They love it and won’t go back.”
At Dell, no major office refits are planned for now. Improvements will be made in teleconferencing capabilities, such as multi-camera technology to improve the virtual experience. The future will bring a hybrid that continues to consider relationships and the importance of giving others time. Connecting has to be more thoughtful when you’re not reconnecting by running into people in the office.
In Conversation With Jared Spataro and Emma Williams, Microsoft
Spataro said Microsoft’s 180,000 employees had just been advised of a policy change that allows them to work up to half of their time at home. “The message is that flexibility is important, but so is in-person face time.” The big trend is getting all workers digitally connected, strengthening the digital fabric that needs to weave in those who use those connections daily and those who do so occasionally.
Williams spoke about frontline and other workers who aren’t behind a desk. “About a third still don’t have the software they need on devices, otr they have it and have to learn on the fly, without training,” And, 76-percent of workers say the past two years has forged close bonds with each other, but not with corporate. “People want a sense of purpose, and that comes from good connections. Without it, they might go somewhere else.”
They also spoke about the lack of a chance to disconnect from work for even brief periods, such as a commute. “There’s no time to mindfully disconnect when you’re walking from your kitchen to your living room,” Williams said.
BMC Advisory Board Spotlight: Leveraging Digital Transformation
Scott Crowder, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, BMC Software
The talent war is real, but geography is no longer a hiring consideration, Crowder said. Sales and support was already at a 45-percent remote work rate at BMC, which is embracing the enhanced opportunity to hire from anywhere in the world.
That makes empathy more vital. “We have to stay plugged in with the employee base, and be aware of who’s struggling,” Crowder said. Three months ago, a company wide survey showed work/life balance is a real problem. There’s no downtime now. You have more time, but it’s mainly benefitting companies in the way of more productivity.”
The Physical Office
Peter Miscovich, Managing Director, Strategy & Innovation, Consulting
Jennifer Janus, President, Pophouse Design
Redesigning workspaces to provide regenerative, peak experiences is happening in subtle ways, such as more natural light and better acoustics, to extreme flexibility and disruption.
Janus offered images of office designs where entire walls can be moved, full kitchens double as meeting spaces and wellness rooms expand on what people have quickly become used to at home, such as being able to meditate. “There is anxiety over coming back to the office and not being able to do the things that have become important to them,” she said. One design even includes a secret room that will entice people.
Budgets can be accommodated, but companies are realizing they are investing in a value proposal for their workforce, said Miscovich. Projects are piloted, with the option to tweak in response to user experience. He described the demand for “clubhouse offices,” that promote collaboration and creativity. “People really want a peak experience at the office. They want to be engaged, and sometimes entertained.”
Janus added that a sense of ownership fostered by design input from workers “is key to getting people to want to come back to the office.”
In Conversation With U.S. Secretary of Labor, Martin Walsh
The next several months will bring much discussion by the administration, and commerce and labor departments as the nation deals with an uncertain job market. Walsh said the current 3.6-percent unemployment is a show of strength, but a lot of questions remain about how to continue to improve.
The answers lie in decreasing inflation and boosting the middle class, he said, along with problem-solving initiatives, such as the legislation being pushed for child care and recognizing that “it’s not that people don’t want to go back to work; they are looking for something better.”
Walsh spoke about cutting through the licensing red tape to facilitate 90-day apprentice programs to create pathways into skilled careers, such as truck driving, and looking beyond states to a national labor market.
“At the end of the day, it’s about having a good base of employees that are treated well,” Walsh said.
He believes the public education system is “doing well,” but that it’s important to monitor school children who lost considerable education time to the pandemic.
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