For those who follow wattsnext on social media or attend any presentations I conduct, you will know that my team are completely obsessed with HR innovation and particularly the future of workplaces.
What does that even mean?
Well we all know that our world is rapidly and radically changing, and not many things will avoid being disrupted, especially our workplaces. Millennials, technology and our need for flexibility is forcing us to reconsider how we deliver our work, and in particular from where.
One of the many key gifts that technology is providing us is the ability to work from anywhere, opening up many more options for third space working (working from different locations) whether that be home, a cafe, the park, the beach or the other side of the world.
In recent years we have seen the introduction of hot desking where no one has a set desk, companies utilising collaboration spaces and the office space adapting to the flow of workers coming in and out. This has allowed businesses to drop operational costs significantly and ‘supposedly’ create more flexibility. However, isn’t that just moving from one operating model to another where everyone must comply – even those who don’t like changing desks every day? But I digress and that is another topic that I will be dedicating an entire blog too!
Third space working is by far not the only feature of the future of work, there are many others including health and wellbeing, and leadership and productivity, just to name a few.
There are many positive and negative impacts we are expecting as we transition our workplaces to adapt to the many changes ahead of us, and many solutions we are suggesting to our clients to lessen the blow, many of which I share in my presentations. However, it was during one particular presentation that I gave, where I saw lots of engaged audience members nodding their heads and taking note of the insights I was giving, when I thought to myself “is what I’m saying even true?” I don’t actually know if the impacts I’m suggesting will even be an impact or if the solutions I am providing are going to work or even be problems that need solving! I am assuming based on past trends.
A good example is when we saw unlimited leave being introduced last year and the immediate concern for business owners was that everyone would be on leave all the time, when in fact the problem it created was leave not being taken. Hence the problem we thought this new way of managing leave would create was in fact the opposite.
So it was from that day that wattsnext #ProjectFOW or ‘Project Future of Work’ was born! I decided that the wattsnext team needed to become guinea pigs in our own industry and actually live future of work and see what effects it does have and how we manage these effects. We needed to become an experimental hub so I could be sure that what I was telling our clients was actually true!
So I now launch #ProjectFOW. Over the next 12 months the wattsnext team will experiment living and working in what data is telling us is the future of work and we will be sharing with our community the problems that we face and the solutions we find.
The first step is from July 25 the national team will move from their traditional offices and disperse into co-working spaces across Australia (reducing our permanent seating significantly), and we will start tackling the issues of team collaboration, culture and engagement, knowledge transfer, birthday and team celebrations, accountability and individual flexibility within a truly flexible work environment – again just to name a few.
We have already invested heavily in technology and cloud-based systems in preparation and are currently focusing on our connection schedule! This is just stage one.
What we hope to provide our clients and followers over the coming year is a real life case study of the future of work and the implications so that when I continue to do my presentations I can be assured that what I’m sharing is not just trends and assumptions but fact and reality!
I would love for you to follow our experiment via social media @wattsnexthr, the wattsnext Disruptor LinkedIn group, and our Facebook and Instagram pages.
Here’s to the future, whatever that may look like!
Sue-Ellen Watts is the founder and director of wattsnext, specialists in HR, recruitment, compliance and people performance.