Agility, Mobility and Empathy: Realistic Scenarios for the Workplace of Tomorrow
As an EOR provider, we find it essential to stay well-informed of HR tendencies and industry transitions and to distinguish significant changes from short-lived trends Here are our thoughts on what the workplace of tomorrow may realistically look like.
Author: Daria Shypitsyna
Todays public is not new to hearing ominous forecasts of an automated and isolated future of jobs, with machines taking over most positions, leaving their flesh-and-blood predecessors unemployed, and the blessed few toiling their days away in the blue-lit solitary confinement of home office. We, the covid survivors, are wary of technological advancement and its potential impact on our job security in the same way people of the past dreaded steam engines and assembly lines. A popular fearmongering technique suggests that artificial intelligence equals artificial consciousness — self-awareness if you wish — and results in the rivalry between computers and humans. In reality, digitalization and the use of AI facilitate a smooth transfer of knowledge within companies, increasing the individual value of contributing employees and creating an accessible learning environment for their less experienced peers. This is one example of why high-tech dystopian workplace scenarios should be taken with a grain of salt.
Values for the workplace of tomorrow
As society is trotting along the humanist path and embracing values like diversity, compassion and the freedom of self, the impact of workplaces on the quality of life and overall wellbeing is becoming more visible. The era of mindfulness and self-care brings about alternative work environments that seem universally appealing: the adventure of digital nomadism, the permanent home office shielding you from the tension and stress of workplace interaction, and those really, REALLY flexible hours that allow one to balance professional, social and family life. The bleak, AI-dominated vision of the future job market goes hand in hand with wishful thinking, a utopian, media-driven expectation that anyone can work from anywhere and as much (or little) as they want to, making a job an extension of the bedroom/the beach/the tent/you name it. The fault with this sentiment is that it disregards the fundamental human need for affiliation. While telework may reduce the cost of living and grants the daily freedom to operate in a comfortable and familiar environment, it also disconnects team members and eliminates the sense of solidarity, the common purpose. Observant leaders strongly advocate for hybrid work environments, and the hyperflexible remote-only scenario is unlikely to become the new norm in the professional world.
This leaves us with the question:
What workplace trends are really here to stay?
Although a flexible attitude may not imply what some of us would like it to imply — a panacea for stress and resistance to change — it will remain desirable, if not vital, in a professional setting. Agility, the current buzzword, is worth putting in our book of the most sought-after skills of the nearest future. Living and working at a constantly accelerating pace, we have to adapt, integrate and keep up to date. Our past accomplishments and experiences expire quicker, should not be treated as lifelong trophies, and must evolve to remain meaningful. Staying agile means communicating openly, self-coordinating when possible and asking for help when needed, letting go of stale ideas and practices, being receptive to new information, and embracing the change as a mode of being rather than a stressful recurrence. While this sounds like a whole set of demanding skills, it in fact brings tranquility and fulfillment to an individuals professional life.
Agility is valid not just at one job, but also across an entire work journey, which tends to look like a zigzag or an intricate map for many professionals rather than an old straight career ladder. People no longer pursue a lifelong trade, at least not necessarily — thus, the soft skills and metaknowledge that are universally applicable become a true asset as never-before-heard-of professions and spheres emerge. The phrase Jack of all trades, master of none; though oftentimes better than master of one has never been more appropriate, and Jack deserves credit for he knows how to adapt.
Naturally, for the workplace of tomorrow mobility will continue to be compelling and will further expand beyond remote-only practices, not only catering to the popular demand for flexibility of when and where, but also providing us, social animals, with new modes of interaction. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg once suggested that an individual needs at least three independent places in order to lead a fully functional life: the first (home, a familiar and restful terrain), the second (work, the source of financial sustainment and professional growth) and the third (the mysterious elsewhere for entertainment, self-expression, and establishment of meaningful connections). Needless to say, we all learned to appreciate the true value of third places during the pandemic years when access to cultural institutions, community hubs, and leisure facilities was either limited or restricted. As the first and the second got intertwined into a home office, a need for new platforms for networking and social exchange emerged. The rise of coworking spaces, popular enough before covid and even more popular after, is perfectly reflective of the growing social demand for a place where work and play could cross paths.
Professionals, and workplace of tomorrow will no longer be confined to a specific physical address and will continue enjoying the freedom of (re)location, yet the need for mutually beneficial and fulfilling connections with like-minded people will — and the employers who offer best practices for remaining mobile and social will get the competitive edge.
This leads us to another trend that is gradually turning into a core value and raising the bar of work ethics — empathy. We are the first generation to widely acknowledge the importance of mental wellbeing, to openly talk about healthy and unhealthy professional environments and the impact those have on motivation, productivity, and job satisfaction. On one hand, members of fully or mainly remote teams face the risk of social isolation. On the other, genuine and meaningful employee care is a challenge in present-day reality. As we are navigating the digital and hybrid realms, empathy — a humane spark, if you wish — will remain a basic need, and such skills as conflict-solving, non-abusive communication, and mental support will be more and more appreciated by employers and employees alike.
The key lesson that these tendencies pose for professionals is to recognize the importance of agility, emotional intelligence and other soft skills. Though they will not replace the hard skills required for a specific job, they make it much easier to adapt to change, gain practical knowledge and form nurturing connections with work peers. Companies, in their turn, have to be ready to offer to existing and potential employees a space of trust, flexibility and social acceptance.
Is your business keeping up with the global trends? Shed the burden of taxes and local compliance so that your hired team can stay flexible and focus on their primary objectives. To do so, partner up with an umbrella company that takes over administrative tasks and offers in-depth consultations on taxes and local laws to you and your employees at any stage of collaboration. As an EOR provider, Acvian covers the following services:
- legalization of an employees stay in the designated country;
- drafting, reviewing and approving an employment agreement that is attuned to the local laws and tailored to your needs;
- payroll setup and calculation;
- monthly salary payment and payslip;
- paying out benefits and compensations, reimbursing expenses;
- tax filing;
- legal consultancy for the duration of your relationship with the employee
Acvian hires and guides your remote and international talents — so you focus on business goals. Become our client today to create aspirational workplaces of the future.