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Where’s the Free Food and Ping-Pong Table? What New Hacks Will Solve the Innovation Vacuum in the Work-From-Home Economy?

The work-from-home revolution has been unleashed. While it’s true that the workplace and worker of the future were both already changing prior to our current global pandemic, this lockdown has cemented a new era.

Big headlines from some of the largest tech companies in the world are just the beginning of this new era. What will it do to our workplaces?

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of both Twitter and Square was the first to announce their “work-from-home forever” policy change. Other companies soon followed suit and last week we had the announcement from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the tech giant’s employees may also continue working from home indefinitely.

So what does this mean for cities that currently enjoy prestige as tech hotspots like San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Austin, and others? And more importantly, what does this mean for companies who have invested years and hundreds of thousands of dollars creating campuses stocked with free food, gyms, ping-pong tables, and more in an effort to attract the best and brightest employees in the industry?

That is the question that has been on my mind the last few weeks as I work with my own clients, including executives from some of the largest companies in America. It’s been well documented that perks like free food do more than attract rock star employees. A 2015 study from Cornell University found that when crews of firefighters eat together, they perform better on the job than crews who eat alone. This didn’t escape the leader in free food and organized socialization, Google, or the thousands of other companies that have followed their lead. For tech companies, offering free food has the same effect. Science dictates that it brings people together and fosters friendships, ideas, and innovation.

Prior to CVOID-19, the ubiquitous new age “dining hall” that could be found at many tech companies created a natural space for innovation. Where people gather and come together, there is always the potential for the creation and spread of new ideas. And it’s these new, innovative ideas tech companies relied on to stay one step ahead of the competition. Summarily, food and eating together creates safety and belonging , which creates trust, which creates innovation.

Here’s one thing I know: the work-from-home revolution and less human-to-human gatherings will create a safety and belonging gap which will lead to an innovation vacuum in your company unless you take steps to prevent it. Even now, your employees likely are not sharing meals together. They’re logging off of Zoom or Slack to go eat alone in their own kitchens. Ideas are not being exchanged and innovation is stalled.

So if you want to continue to spur innovation inside your company, as I know you do, use these ideas to foster safety, belonging, and innovation in the workplace:

 

Bring People Together

One of the most important steps to fostering innovation during the work-from-home revolution is to be intentional about replacing the cafeteria. You must find a replacement for your company’s dining hall, happy hour, or mixers that fits our new normal of social distancing and working remote. Rather than getting off of Zoom or Slack for lunch, encourage people to stay on and eat together as they would at the physical office. Schedule virtual happy hours. Randomly assign or encourage small groups to form and meet weekly over video chat to check in with each other and talk. As regulations allow, have people meet outside of work in small groups to walk or go for a hike. In fact, creating small bonded teams of 6-8 works for the Navy Seals. They create a brotherhood of safety and belonging, which yields the highest performance. Our millennial/Gen Z networking groups at launchbox, encourage participants to form a “tripod,” a small group of three people that meet for lunch and check in with each other between monthly meetings. No matter what you choose to do, you must be intentional about encouraging the human-to-human connection.

 

Ask Your People What They Need From You

One of our favorite workplace hacks to create and build strong teams and companies is to simply ask your people what they need from you. Are they feeling Zoom Fatigue with too many meetings already? Are they isolated and feeling distant from their team? Are they experiencing challenges at home that are interfering with work? Regular check-ins with your people will help you solve problems, build strong employee loyalty, and ultimately create the space people need to innovate. Unhappy, stressed, scared people do not create game-changing breakthroughs. Happy, confident, supported people do.

 

Foster Resilience

If you haven’t checked out our blog on mastering the 3 components of resilience, read that next. Our 3 C’s of Confidence, Commitment, and Clarity will help your people create resilience. As I said above, unhappy employees do not innovate. Help your people meet the challenges of the work-from-home revolution by teaching them the skills to build and maintain resilience. It will change the way they show up for work, their team, and your clients.

 

The work-from-home revolution has arrived and it’s now our normal. We do the work with business owners, executives and workplaces to help them find, build, and share their Strengths and Story to build high performance cultures through safety and belonging. What could be better? Click here to book a free session with us today!

3 Steps to Effectively Lead Your Remote Team Through Crisis

Our employees are overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed out. And that was before the Covid-19 crisis! Now they have a whole new mess of problems to deal with: worrying about the virus, fear about what will happen to the economy, working remotely for the first time, trying to manage their kids at home, struggling to adapt to new technology, increased conflict with their partner from being cooped up inside…it’s A LOT. Meanwhile, we’re trying to get them to be as productive as possible and G.S.D (Get Shit Done).

If you’re anything like the clients we’ve been talking to over the last few weeks, you’re struggling just to keep your own head above water let alone be the kind of leader your remote team needs right now. While there’s no manual or precedent for dealing with a large-scale global epidemic in this modern age, we’ve been coaching our clients on how to pivot and adapt their businesses while leading their teams to success. No matter what industry you’re in or what catastrophe you’re facing, there are only three things you need to focus on as a leader to effectively manage your workforce and cultivate high performance.

1) Decrease Fear

Your people are scared. They are facing the unknown just like you.

As their leader your most important job is to decrease their fear. Even if the future looks bleak, your people want to know you have a plan to take care of them and see them safely through this storm. They want to know they can count on you, that you’ve got their back, and you’re here for them. 

One of the most effective ways to decrease fear is to ask your people what they want from you. Start by listening and leaning in. It may be different for every person, but you owe it to them to take the time to ask great questions, be an even better listener, and find a way to meet them where they are. Then authentically contextualize your mission and vision in a way that employees can relate to and find meaningful. And communicate, communicate, communicate. Take a look at our 4 C’s of Connection in Virtual Work – scroll down to get a free copy of our Remote Management Toolbox.

2) Increase Safety

Along with decreasing fear, you need to increase every team member’s sense of safety. When you start by turning your workplace upside down and listening to your people, you’ll have a good sense of where to begin.  Understand that people need people and that we are interconnected beings. The biggest challenge is the lack of community and perceived empathy.

But even more importantly, you’ll have taken a big step toward decreasing their sense of isolation. If your team is working remotely for the first time, they’ll quickly start to feel alone and adrift in the world. It’s up to you to make sure your team is connecting to you and with each other on a regular basis. Have at least two real connections per week that asks how they are doing.  And make sure to use video – verbal communication is only 7% of total communication!  Additionally, appoint a communication czar to make sure it works well with your team.

Start now. Implement daily or weekly video calls. Create a Slack channel where people can check in with each other during the day. And spend time demonstrating you care by coaching your team members through their specific challenges. Let them help each other and create a buddy system. 

3) Solve the Emotional Component

In times of turmoil, it’s normal for emotions to run high. As a leader, you need to make sure you’re helping your team process their emotions in a way that is healthy and productive. Make sure you’re regularly addressing these five areas on your check-ins with your remote team:

1) Self-Care: Discuss the importance of self-care and share strategies for individual success.  Routines, schedules, and how to deal with kids at home and connections.

2) Learn: Make sure your team has the tools and resources to support their learning and development with new skills for the virtual workplace and great communication tips.

3) Growth: If there is down time, encourage personal and professional growth along with real creativity.  What are some great ideas they can come up with for themselves to add big value for a future which will be super different and better than what we’ve experienced?

4) Mindset: Share practical ways each person can work on reframing their thoughts and help them through any mindset blocks. Remember, we need connection and help.

5) Connect: Illustrate the importance of connecting person-to-person and encourage team members to communicate over phone or video instead of email and text.

If you focus on just these three things and follow our hacks and tools, I guarantee you will see dramatic improvement in the performance and productivity of your remote team. While we are all being challenged to work differently, there is NO reason your team cannot continue to execute at a high level.

Need help implementing these strategies? Looking for personalized help for your organization? Reach out to us – the first session is always complimentary! We can deliver virtual keynotes, online workshops, and remote high-performance coaching to help your team continue to succeed and thrive. 

We also recently hosted a webinar on this same topic – click here to watch the replay. It will only be available for a limited time so don’t wait to watch!

Download our Remote Management Toolbox including Our 4 C's of Connection to help you lead your team to success!



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Two Predictions Shaping the Work(er) of the Future: Reality Hits Sooner

Last year we made some predictions for the future workplace. We predicted (i) technology is going to continue to evolve and drive change, and certainly (ii) people will matter more than ever. Our new Coronavirus reality further demonstrates the importance of both these points.  So as we enter this next decade, we’re gratified to see that new interviews and evolving research continues to support our predictions for the future workplace.

 The Wall Street Journal recently published an article called, “The Workplace of 2050.” It featured interviews with five experts at the top of their game making bold predictions for the future. All five talked about the way evolving technologies will reshape their industries – and the important role humans will play in the future of work.  

David Baszucki, CEO and co-founder of Roblox Corp, talked about the gaming industry as a whole. Alongside tremendous technological innovation, he envisions teams getting larger and transitioning to remote work with employees spread out around the world. While not mentioned directly in his interview, we know that communication between humans will be critical. As teams stop reporting to the same central office and start logging onto Slack from their couch, being able to articulate your story, demonstrate your value, and build relationships will become key factors for success in this industry.   

In the medical field, the need for technological expansion is particularly great. Dr. Esther Choo, ER doctor and Associate Professor at the Oregon Health and Science University, expects we’ll see “a lot more options for communicating with patients, monitoring them, connecting them to needed care…and streamlining things.” She also expects increased integration among the many electronic health systems doctors and patients are currently using. Although these innovations will certainly help healthcare providers improve job performance, what’s really driving this shift is a desire for better communication between patients and doctors in order to create meaningful change.

 Other CEOs and founders echo Baszucki and Choo, predicting an increasingly prominent role for technology in industries ranging from restaurants to talent acquisition. But for all this focus on technological innovation, Free the Work founder Alma Har’el sums up it up best: “At the end of the day, the heart of the work is really about connecting on a human level, and that’s never going to change.” No matter how an industry is disrupted or what new technologies they choose to deploy, at the heart of all this change is us: people. We still matter.

To help you create success and shift to a culture of high performance, we introduced our 3-hack system. Many of our clients have already reported tremendous success after implementing it in their organizations. How will you keep the future workplace human? What choices will you make to make your employees matter? How will you empower and lead your people to high performance? Reach out to us for a free consultation. Through our dynamic keynote speeches, game-changing workshops, and bold coaching, we will inspire your people to up their game and help you create a high-performance culture.

Shaping the Work(er) of the Future. It Matters Now More Than Ever.

The Future of Work is under attack: literally. The current fear of the Coronavirus has exacerbated the existing state of increased worker anxiety, depression, isolation and disengagement. They are all at all-time highs across the globe. And the pressure keeps mounting as the world moves ever faster.  In the U.S. alone, it’s costing billions of dollars in lost revenue and workforce productivity.

The Future of Work and the Workplace of the Future are huge topics of conversation. Yet, we’re still SOOO confused.  We ask, what it will look like? What it will feel like? Where and how will we work? How many hours will we attend to work and how will we balance that with all our other life challenges? How will we handle disease, global challenges, technological changes (robots, AI, digital, etc.), and how will we survive as workers?  It is an amazing question, especially today.

WE ARE MISSING THE POINT!  We are forgetting the single most important Future of Work component: the workers themselves.  The Worker of The Future. What will they do?

To break through all this uncertainty and confusion, to succeed in the future workplace, we need to first make sure we’re focusing on the right thing: the worker. Then, we need a system that helps and supports our workers as they navigate this period of tremendous change. Adjusting our focus and implementing a proven system is the only way to develop better connection, better engagement, and better teams. If we can figure that out, we’ll have better performance and financial results, better impact, better communities, and a ultimately a better world! 

Why We Need to Be Asking the Right Questions About the Future of Work

The workplace is changing and this change is creating enormous pressure. Industry research and our own independent polls of 20,000 people demonstrate the impact of big data, robotics, AI and other technologies our future. Here are the stats that we need to be concerned about and now with our new anxiety about Coronavirus, add fear on top of that – yikes!

  • 375M people will have new job categories,
  • 41% of companies will be fully automated,
  • 47% of jobs will be gone by 2030,
  • 67% of CEOS believe technology will create more value than human capital,
  • 44% of leaders believe automation will make people largely irrelevant,
  • Workers are scared too: 53% believe people may become irrelevant and 50% believe that they will need new jobs. 

Management and employees are both uncertain. As a result, fear, anxiety, depression, lost productivity and disengagement pervades the workplace.

But to bridge this gap, move out of uncertainty, and create engaged workplaces and workers of the future, you must put your focus where it belongs. On the people. People need people and people need to matter. 

Reports from Korn Ferry, McKinsey, Josh Bersin, and The World Economic Forum show that Emotional Intelligence and effective human interaction are the real skills necessary to win in the workplace and create engagement.  Human interaction will become even more important to succeed, connect, provide value and grow businesses.  And it is multifaceted. It includes purpose, meaning and an integrated and diverse approach to work, community, and family. Humans want connection and meaning. They want contribution and impact. They want to feel seen and heard. They want immediate feedback. But most of all, they want to matter.

The Hacks, Tools and Solution:

Let’s create that connection and bridge the gap between the Worker of the Future and the Future of Work. After coaching over 20,000 Millennials, Gen Zs and their managers, we’ve developed a simple 3-hack system that will help solve the workplace disengagement crisis. This system can be rapidly implemented today to shift the way you lead and positively impact your company’s bottom line.

Hack #1: Turn Your Workplace Upside Down:

Learn what your most critical audience (your workforce) needs from you to create high performance. Ask them questions on an individual level, create focus groups, and send out surveys. Get a sense of what they need and value in order to meet them where they are and utilize them in creating a culture that defines the Future of Work within your company. Safety will be added to this list for sure so let’s have the dialogue: what do workers need from you to feel safe and protected? Utilize our tools like The Platinum Rule, “WIFThem,” and our signature communication tool, “GPS” –  Gratitude, Permission, Shared Experience

Hack #2: Create Meaningful Work:

Many studies demonstrate that meaning, purpose, impact and contribution are the most important things that workers of all ages want from the workplace. To create meaningful work, make sure your organization is addressing these two key things for each of your employees: providing opportunities for learning/growing and creating a sense of community. This is the way you will ensure the work feels meaningful, no matter the task. Now more than ever when we have been pushed to a new normal , which includes fear of survival, meaning matters.

Hack #3: Reskill from the Inside/Out on Emotional Intelligence:

According to the World Economic Forum, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is key for 2020 and beyond. Additional research, including the 2017-2020 Bersin reports on HR and talent predictions support this. To help your people develop a higher EQ, focus first on finding a way to connect with them. Then, create a safe workplace and encourage them to be vulnerable in sharing the truth of who they are. Finally, mentor and coach them in the moment, not during a quarterly or annual performance review. Today’s workplace moves fast and tomorrow’s workplace, even faster. You need to help your people grow and develop new skills for success now. Particularly, are they capable of being managed remotely, engaged through self-motivation, trusted by coworkers, and still learning and growing?  What systems will you put into place to help them?

Doing the work and committing to using this 3-hack system MATTERS. If we don’t put our focus in the right place (on the Worker of the Future) there won’t BE a Workplace of the Future. Because without the people, none of it really matters. So start solving the disengagement crisis in your organization today! Use our system, check out our free tools, and read the rest of our blog for even more implementation tips. Reach out to us to learn how we can support you in creating lasting change through our high-performance coaching, keynote speeches, and workshops.

Become, Attract, Create, and Retain the Worker of the Future!

Who is the most important person in a business? If you ask most experts, they’ll say it’s the customer. However, really great leaders like Richard Branson will tell you it’s the employee. Which is absolutely correct. After all, it’s always the employee that takes care of the customer and creates the experience that brings the customer back. So why, when we talk about the future of work and the workplace, do we leave out the most critical asset, the worker of the future?

Probably because training and building amazing employees is one of the hardest things in business. People and relationships are tough!

But don’t stop reading here. It’s one thing to know your employees are important and another thing to actually walk the talk and do the work to treat them that way. Your future success will depend on how well you can understand, train, and build your employees to become the worker of the future. In a 2018 talk at BetterUp Shift, Josh Bersin, founder and principal of Bersin by Deloitte, told the audience that, “The future of work actually has little to do with technology, AI, or algorithms. It’s all about people, organizations, and how we manage people within these organizations.” And he’s absolutely right! People are people and they will always be the differentiator in growing our businesses.

So when we look ahead to the future, instead of asking ourselves questions like:

  • Will my job be obsolete in ten years time?
  • Is this booming business venture a momentary fad or something more?
  • Will a machine take my job?
  • If the workplace of the future changes drastically, will I be able to see it coming or will I be caught unaware?

Let’s focus on what we KNOW AND CAN control: our relationships with our people and how we can grow them to become the employees we need both now and in the future.

As Robert Bernard Shaw once said, “Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.” Rather than worrying about what the workplace of the future or the future of work will be, let’s focus instead on creating the WORKER OF THE FUTURE from the inside/out with a few simple steps!

 

Who is the Worker of the Future?

In his book The Future of Work, Jacob Morgan argues that there are five emerging trends:

  • New behaviors shaped by social media and the web
  • Collaborative cloud technologies
  • New generations of workers with new attitudes, expectations, and ways of working
  • Greater ability to work from anywhere, anytime
  • Increased globalization and connection to diverse peoples

These trends aren’t just hypotheticals; they’re already permeating our workplaces and rapidly changing how we work. And not just in a few industries either. These workplace trends affect all of us, no matter who we are, where we are, or the type of work we do. To survive and thrive in the new future of work, we ALL must become the worker of the future. And we know that people are people and the thread is within: People are the workers of the future even when everything else changes around them. So, listen right here, right now. Universities, colleges, businesses, please, and I mean f*&^%n please, start creating the worker of the future by training them on themselves and relationships that add value to others.

So if you’re a worker (whether manager, front line, C- level) what will you do today to recreate yourself as that worker of the future? How will you navigate these trends? Who will you be while you’re doing that and how will you go about developing yourself to meet the challenge?

Here are a few tips:

  • Know yourself
  • Learn your story
  • Create trust
  • Build solid relationships, starting with yourself
  • LEARN and GROW: update all those skills you need to survive today.

And if you own or run a business, then figure out how to teach and train all your employees these methodologies. We all know they don’t come to you with them naturally, they’re not teaching them in college, and there’s no school on creating the worker of the future. So go ahead and beat the competition and be that for them!

 

What Skills Will the Worker of the Future Need to Succeed?

Aside from the technical skills needed to complete their work, the WORKER OF THE FUTURE will need other skills that I would argue are much more important. After all, technical skills are relatively easy to acquire and train. These other skills aren’t so easy to come by and require significantly more time and energy to develop.

  • The worker of the future must be:
  • Obsessed with learning and growing
  • Authentic and vulnerable with others
  • A great communicator
  • Knowledgable about what their “why” is and what they have to contribute to
  • others
  • Flexible
  • Innovative
  • Entrepreneurial (even if your ambition is more intrapreneurial in nature)
  • Collaborative
  • Self-motivated
  • Certain of who they are
  • Able to tell stories that connect
  • A leader
  • Trustworthy

Did you notice that the four skills at the top of the list are concepts we’ve been talking about for years?! As a matter of fact that is what we do and who we are. We believe are at the precipice of creating and building theWORKER OF THE FUTURE!

 

What Can I Do Now to Ensure I’m Becoming the Worker of the Future?

Whether you’re an employee who wants to ensure you always have a job, a manager who wants to keep climbing the career ladder, a freelancer who wants to make sure you’ll always be in-demand, or an entrepreneur who wants to build a business that people can’t get enough of, you need to start by ensuring YOU are becoming the WORKER OF THE FUTURE.

To do that, you start by focusing on yourself. Yes, you need to cultivate those thirteen skills on the list above, but you need to understand yourself first. Because you can’t help others and you can’t have the impact you want, without getting real about who you are, what your story is, and what you have to offer in the workplace.

If you’re serious about becoming, hiring and/or training the worker of the future, you need to invest in yourself now to make sure you will win in the years to come.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Focus on What You Can Control.
  2. Deepen Your Relationship With Yourself.
  3. Know Your Story and What You Have to Offer.
  4. Develop the Thirteen Worker of the Future Skills You Need for Success.
  5. Make it About Others.
  6. Always be Learning and Growing