Eight Trends for the Future of Work

07 Sep 2022

This blog is based on the talk ‘The Future of Work’ by Pim de Morree of Corporate Rebels at the 2021 Agile Business Conference. We’ve placed Pim as the narrator, so you can read it in his voice. Members can also hear his voice by watching the full one-hour talk.

“We started Corporate Rebels 6 years ago, leaving our corporate jobs in Germany and the Netherlands. We enjoyed the content of the work, but the way the companies were structured and the way the work was given to us was completely frustrating. Traditional ways of working, with a strict hierarchy, bosses tell their team members what to do, being told that we need to work in the office from 9-5 to show we are productive, with no freedom to be entrepreneurial as you need to abide by all of these rules. We did not want to do this for the next 40 years; we wanted to find a way of working where we can be ourselves, do the things we love, be entrepreneurial, take the initiative. Corporate Rebels was formed to solve the problem of not being engaged and happy at work. We felt that the way most companies work is broken, and after initial research we quickly realised that we are not the only ones who feel this way.
Gallup did extensive research in this area:
- 15% of the world's working population is engaged at work
- 67% are disengaged, they come to work and do their job, but are not passionate about their work and their work environment
- 18% of the working population are actively disengaged at work, meaning that they dislike their work and their working environment to such an extent that they start sabotaging their work, by calling in sick when they are not, or not doing the work assigned.
“The actively disengaged group is larger than the engaged group, which is painful for those people but also for their organisations as there are so many people not contributing to what the organisation is trying to achieve.
“Looking at burnout, 23% of the working population always or often experience burnout, 44% sometimes experience it and just 33% never. Meaning we are making people sick, literally, by the way we organise our work.

Eight Trends for the Future of Work The way of work is broken

“Corporations are disengaging their employees, making them sick and providing no meaning for them. To be successful as a person we feel that you need a better workplace than we see in place today. Corporate Rebels is about helping organisations change so that they engage their people, don’t make them sick and give them meaning in the workplace.
“To become experts in this area, we sought out pioneers around the world who could teach us about better ways of working. We made a long list of academics, entrepreneurs, CEOs, internal change agents, companies who are really pushing the boundaries to identify how work could be organised differently. We visited over 150 of these workplaces over the last 6 years, companies where they got rid of their functional hierarchies, where people set their own salaries, working hours, ultimately to find ways to make work more fun.

“We have summarised our conclusions as 8 trends to show what they do differently from traditional companies.

1. From profit towards purpose & values

Progressive organisations believe that if you focus on your purpose, the profit will naturally follow. It should not be the focus to make as much money as possible, but it should be to focus on something more meaningful and use money to get to where you want to go.

2. From hierarchical pyramids to a network of teams

If you form a network of teams you can give people much more autonomy and entrepreneurship, this leads people to be much more motivated and adapt in response to how the business environment changes.

3. From directive leadership to supportive leadership

The focus here is where leaders are there to serve the front line team members, where those in closest contact with customers and suppliers should be making the decisions.

4. From plan & predict to experiment & adapt

The pioneers are constantly experimenting and adapting with new ways of working to adapt their products and services dependent on what they learn from their business environment.

5. From rules and control to freedom and trust

If we trust our employees to make correct decisions, they will feel more ownership of the decisions they make and more motivated to make good decisions.

6. From centralised authority to distributed authority

This leads to better, faster decisions and once introduced, more and more decision making can be successfully pushed to the front line.

7. From secrecy to radical transparency

This helps people understand the real situation and help them to be engaged in the workplace.

8. From job descriptions to talents & mastery

People are hired for their innate characteristics and are given the freedom to explore how their talents, skills and abilities are best applied to achieve the organisation's objectives or purpose.

“These trends should not be used as a checklist of things that will improve the workplace for every organisation, but a place to start the journey. Progressive organisations continuously experiment, learn and adopt successful approaches to improve the workplace.
“This does not always need to be initiated from the top down, but progress can be gained from the inside-out. Any employee can be an agent for change and I encourage you to start today.
“Find your allies, with the same values, who want to do the same things to improve the workplace. Identify small but radical experiments so they do not endanger the whole organisation, but they must be sufficiently bold to inspire others.
“Then bring people on board, and encourage engagement.”

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Please note blogs reflect the opinions of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the recommendations or guidance of the Agile Business Consortium.