It seems silly now to talk about the “future of work.” There’s only one thing to talk about: the “now of work.”
Not so long ago, we were setting strategic priorities and planning roadmaps for 2020. Making New Year’s resolutions, buying technology, embarking on program rollouts, cherry-picking from the future of work what we might have the time, bandwidth and budget to address today.
Business was booming, the economy was at an all-time high. Overnight, all of that changed. The now of work didn’t just knock on our door; it let itself in our houses.
The only thing we can control is our reaction: What will we do now that it’s here? How will we react in a time of need? Most importantly, how do we ensure we’re creating the next future of work, together?
How the workforce looks in the now of work:
- Completely remote in almost all cases;
- Stretched as thin as it’s been in many decades;
- Possibly scared for their lives and those of their families;
- But … still figuring out how to do their jobs every day; and
- Right now, they’re trying to figure out what’s next.
HR is on the front lines of all this, trying to help. How HR needs to look in the now of work:
- Now is the time to be as empathetic as possible;
- Now we have to work together as a community to create the answers. Not find them—create them;
- Now we work together as an HR community to help leaders in business adjust on the fly, stay in business, determine the future of the business and simultaneously deal with the next phase of the unknown; and
- Now is the time to act—to bring out the human side of HR. Not the transactional side, the human side.
Employee Experience in the Now of Work
Everyone is confused. Everyone is hurting. Everyone is shocked.
This is the time to get to work. This is the time to think about the experience we’re creating for our employees. Employee experience matters in good times and in bad. Right now, the littlest things are the biggest things: how we’re solving employee inquiries, the knowledge we’re putting out for employees, the changes we’re making and, above all, doing it with empathy.
Employee experience in 2020 was to be about two things: a business mandate and putting people first. That hasn’t changed, only grown in importance. Employee experience is not a nice interface or a piece of technology. It’s so much bigger than that. Now, it’s about checking in with people, hourly if necessary, just to see how they’re doing. Checking in to see if they’re able to work. Knowing they’re working with their kids learning alongside them. Understanding if they have what they need at the most basic level. Employee experience has always been about people; that point is now driving itself home in the most urgent ways.
The irony of all this? This is the way life was happening all along outside of work. We already communicate in real-time, globally, omnichannel and using creative and inventive tools. I’ve long been asking what year it feels like inside work compared to outside of work. Suddenly, that chasm is slamming itself shut.
This is Not a Stopgap
The most important thing to know about the future of work is that it’s now—on your doorstep, in your house, in your face. It must be addressed now. We’ve been working backward for some time, preparing the workforce for the workplace. Now is the time to prepare the workplace for the workforce, truly meet them where they are, truly meet their most basic needs but also their most elevated expectations.
We haven’t worked fast enough; we know that. We were already behind, putting greater pressure on us to meet the demands of the now of work when our hands are forced. We can’t say, “We’re not ready.” It’s no longer a choice. But I beg you, do not treat this as a stopgap. This is your opportunity to address what already needed to be addressed, to rise to the challenge, to do the right thing for your people and your business in a way that is sustainable and durable. This is not a stopgap; this is the new normal.
The Now of Work Digital Movement
The industry needs attention right now. If we pay attention to each other and work together, we can get through moments. All of them: good and bad. We have a ton of questions, questions we need to be able to ask each other in order to co-create answers that don’t yet exist. Events are not an option for us for the foreseeable future; so Leapgen has created a virtual environment that allows us to show each other love and care, give each other attention and co-create solutions across the globe in real-time. What do we call this movement? You must already know the only name we could think to call it: the NOW of Work.
We’ll see you in the NOW of Work.
Much love, Jason
About the Author
Jason Averbook is HRE’s People Side of Digital columnist. Averbook is a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of HR, the future of work and the impact technology have on that future. He is the co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a global consultancy helping organizations shape their future workplace by broadening executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that meet the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business. Averbook will speak at the 2020 HR Technology Conference scheduled for Oct. 13-16 in Las Vegas. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.