Is it about employee power or is it rather about employee-generated value and solutions?

A diverse panel of experts had a vibrant debate about Future-of-Work issues at the “Managing the Transformation Of/At Work” live and in-person event on Tuesday May 24th, in London. The discussion touched upon many key aspects of the evolving workplace such as workplace flexibility, retention, purpose, culture, inclusion, mental health, burnout, and psychological safety.

The conversation circled and confirmed a new core emphasis on talent, recognising and adapting to individual needs since it is people who generate value in corporations. Far from pandering to employees or raising concerns about inflated worker demands, reasons discussed emphasised connection, engagement and performance which improve business outcomes as well as retain employees. Employees were seen as having the answers and commitment to the business they work for.

Haddy Davies, Global Procurement Technical Process Lead and a chemical engineer at Johnson Matthey, opened the discussion. She recalled her surprise at how she was able to reimagine her on-site machine-adjacent job completely when sent home in March 2020, so she could continue her work remotely. Haddy felt such out of the box thinking would greatly benefit businesses moving forward.

A desire for inclusive work environments underpinned the embracing of new work models for Angus Ridgway, CEO of Potentialife. Angus referred to research about minorities in the US feeling psychologically safer at home rather than at the office. He stressed the need to recognize and respond to individual needs and design new ways of working after the disruption of the pandemic.

Martyn Sakol, Managing Partner at Organisation Effectiveness Cambridge (OE Cam) and a Chartered Psychologist, cautioned about the risk of potential issues when implementing hybrid models. He noted more visible office-based employees could be favoured over those working away from the office. He echoed the importance of understanding each person’s different needs.

Sabrina Del Prete, CEO and Founder of FinTech start up Kore with a career at banking institutions such as RBS and JPMorgan, shared her deeply held belief about the importance of purpose. She sees Kore’s purpose as key to inspiring, engaging, and retaining employees as well as keeping them connected wherever they are working.

Sophie Wade, author of new book “Empathy Works: The Key to Competitive Advantage in the New Era of Work”, work futurist, and Workforce Innovation Specialist at Flexcel Network, hosted the event and moderated the panel. She noted the human-centric thread throughout the discussion that she finds counterbalances the technology-driven emphasis of Future-of-Work environments. Sophie stressed the importance of empathy and better human understanding in and across our workplaces as we emerge from the pandemic experiencing evolving business conditions which are complex and unpredictable.