The Future of Work, The Workforce and Workplaces
What are the new ways of working in the company of the future? How are companies looking at balancing purpose and profit? What will define the future of the workforce and workplaces? How can companies meet the needs of the future workforce as future workers shape the purpose of the companies they work for? In this session, Peter Richardson, Matt Weston and James Ghaffari joined us to debate a vision of the future, the impact that we can each have and how business can be a disruptive force for good. Watch session recording now.
Meet Our Inspiring Speakers
Peter Richardson, Architect Future of Work, Protiviti
Peter leads Protiviti’s focus on The Future of Work globally. In helping clients face the future with confidence in an ever more dynamic world, he emphasises rebuilding the operating model and future of work engine by empowering teams, equipping them to contribute fully in a hybrid environment and developing an underpinning culture. In 2016, Peter took on the role as Country Market Leader for the UK and under his leadership he successfully doubled its size.
Matt Weston, Managing Director, Robert Half
Matt Weston is the UK Managing Director of specialist recruiter Robert Half. Having worked for Robert Half for over 21 years, Matt began his career as a recruitment consultant quickly excelling into leadership roles within the business including Regional Director for professional staffing in the UK South region before taking on the UK Managing Director role in 2018.
James Ghaffari, Director of Growth & Product, B Corp UK
B Corp is a community of leaders that drives a global movement of people using business as a force for good. James is responsible for growing the B Corp community and managing the certification process for businesses large and small across the UK. James has also held roles in Innovation at international women and girls' rights charity and has worked with multinationals and local SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa supporting the growth of inclusive business environments.
A tipping point of historic proportions
The final Collaboration Forum of series five brought together three opinion formers on the future of work. Peter Richardson from Protiviti, Matt Weston from Robert Half, and James Ghaffari at B Corp, explained more about what comes next
A tsunami is sweeping across the commercial landscape. The past year has profoundly influenced people’s view of work and given companies time to assess their business models. Some have also doubled down on sustainability, health and wellbeing, and questioned why they exist.
As business leaders contemplate what happens as pandemic restrictions lift, they will enter another period of change. They will continue to consider the way they operate, and the way their employees want to work. Their experience of one crisis will, in many ways, keep them focussed on coping with the next.
“The Covid-19 crisis is a tipping point of historic proportions, and the pace of change is unlikely to slow down,” said Peter Richardson, architect for the future of work at Protiviti. “More changes will be required as the economic and human situations evolve, remote work is created, and new job opportunities come along.
“We’ll have to deal with those challenges, and over the next six to 12 months, we’ll experiment with technology and operating models; and how to manage change that will exceed the pace we’ve seen before,” he added.
The pace of commercial change has also been compounded by an existential crisis. As the health impact of the pandemic becomes more manageable, people have been reflecting on the bigger picture, too. Many commentators have called Covid-19 the warm-up for climate change, and an event that has highlighted our wider relationship with the planet.
At B Corp, which benchmarks businesses on their environmental and social behaviour, James Ghaffari has seen a “pretty phenomenal step change”. He said recent conversations about sustainability have been fascinating and inspiring to see. He explained this period has allowed companies to look inward and clarify how they are approaching the environment, society and their workforce.
“I think companies are viewing this crisis as the start of a period of crises to come,” he said. “So, companies are communicating consistently with their employees and suppliers to build really strong relationships. It’s those strong relationships that build resilience and help them transition through crises, and actually come out the other end stronger.”
Those relationships will be put to the test over the next few months, as people contemplate moving jobs, and finding roles that suit them better. While professional relationships have been through a survival phase during the pandemic, the market for new jobs suggests things are about to change.
More than 80 per cent of companies are looking to recruit at the moment, according to research from Robert Half. But the number that might stop everyone in their tracks is this one: 48 per cent of people are looking for a new opportunity. That means we are facing a “tsunami of staff turnover”, according to managing director Matt Weston.
These are people who might enjoy their job but are just looking to do something different. They have also been shown that work can be done remotely, and that the location of a job doesn’t matter anymore. Ultimately, “the pace of change that’s coming, and the war for talent, has never been seen before”, he added.
But most businesses don’t have a clear answer on future working patterns, yet. While most agree that looking after their people will create a path to profit, the way they will work is still being talked about. This isn’t news that people want to hear, in a world where humans need clarity and consistency. But it’s an honest appraisal about the road ahead.
“The big thing is communication,” said James Ghaffari. “Talk to your employees and be flexible about the solution. It could be that you trial a four-day week, and you can monitor productivity, wellness, and its impact on the success of the business. If you decide not to come back into the office, for example, that might be great for some older workers, but what about young people seeking the transfer of knowledge and skills? Don’t make big decisions without engaging with your employees.
“The smart organisations have recognised that nobody has the right answer yet,” said Peter Richardson. “We’re starting to gather thoughts and provide guidance based on data, workplace surveys, and conversations involving our people. The most successful organisations will be those that are inclusive in that process.
“Any decisions need to solve what’s right for people, clients, employers, and the environment. Be prepared to test, review and experiment over the next six to 12 months, and throw solutions away if they don’t work.”
Research from Robert Half suggests that hybrid working, in some form, is here to stay. But underneath the numbers, is a desire for the strong relationships that James from B Corp talks about. According to Matt Weston, we are entering a world where companies feel comfortable to hire remotely, and employ people to get the job done, not count hours. Fifty-six per cent of the roles now being advertised are fully remote, he revealed, which would have been unthinkable just one year ago.
“Sixty-seven per cent of candidates call themselves a ‘home dweller’, but only 23 per cent call themselves an ‘office dweller’, and that number is declining month on month,” added Matt. “If employers don’t have a hybrid, flexible, trusting environment, they are going to lose people; and aren’t going to hire any new people. The slower they move, the faster they will die.”
Peter added: “We’re approaching a new phase with a new set of challenges. There’s a lot of change ahead and that’s exciting. There’s an opportunity to really change the paradigm as we look to the future.”
The pandemic has been a wake-up call but also a catalyst for self-reflection in the business community. The stage is set for chapter two in the great story of workplace change; and the way businesses relate to society and the environment, too. Get it right, and they will be here to tell the tale; get it wrong, and they will struggle to survive.
The future of work can be summed up by three wise words from the past: people, planet and profit.
Peter, James and Matt were talking on Protiviti’s Collaboration Forum, which has now finished for the summer. To find out more about the series, and to gain further insights from other speakers who took part, click here.
Click below to view the entire series