The Future of Flexible Work

Source: PSFK: The Future of Work

Looking towards the future and how our workplaces are evolving is always inspiring. Earlier this month, PSFK released a great report on The Future of Work, which showcases the breadth of changes underway in how we work. Some workplaces still resist the cultural need for change, but the pressure for organizations to evolve for myriad reasons, not least of which to attract and retain talent, will make 2013 a great year for flex work. A few reasons indicate why and how:

  • More prospective employees will be asking about the culture of flexible work options during interviews and expecting candid feedback about how supportive companies are around flexibility, collaboration, education and training opportunities. Companies like FlexQuotient are developing products to help individuals learn more about a corporate culture before making decisions about where to work and Sloan Awards continue to recognize exemplary practices among companies creating flexible workplaces.
  • The development of management competencies and recognition of these competencies for managing global distributed teams are important skill sets shifting organizations more towards results-oriented performance. In addition to the knowledge, skills and abilities managers of virtual teams need, a competency-based workforce development approach identifies behaviors and attributes required for these managers to be most effective in their roles.
  • Training managers on how to develop distributed teams and mitigate conflict helps thaw mid-manager resistance and strengthens dialogue on overcoming obstacles in virtual settings. But training alone will not be successful in addressing cultural resistance around the need for a greater workplace shift.
  • Leaders need to candidly discuss how corporate cultures can evolve to foster authentic employee engagement, distributed leadership, and address undercurrents that impede progress. Employees want to be part of a company they can help shape and create, regardless of level, including contributing ideas on how to create a culture of flexible work. Many organizations claim to prioritize employee engagement but few know how to execute it successfully. Employees thrive in places where opportunities for contributions to be recognized and rewarded are equitably distributed; employers realize bottom-line benefits.
  • Workplace initiatives are also more likely to be culturally embedded into organizations that link corporate strategy discussions with how IT, HR, Sustainability, and Corporate Real Estate play important roles in achieving a flexible workplace. Strategic conversations about how flexibility is connected to multiple business issues as opposed to siloed business issues allows for dialogue about who ‘owns’ flex work/agile work to change. Companies that leverage cross-functional teams representing these business areas can be more effective in realizing broader corporate goals that help create agile workplaces.
  • At various stages of the lifecycle, more generations will be looking for part-time work that fits into their lives in a way that optimizes flexibility. H.R. 4612, The Working Families Flexibility Act the piece of legislation that has stalled in Congress, needs to be resurrected and advanced which will help spur growth of part-time professional work opportunities.

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