We see many strategies for in-person office requirements vs. working remotely these days. And you’ll read a couple more below. But Terri Travis, VP of human resources at Industry Dive, who will speak to the future of work at BIMS 2023, seems to make the most sense when she told us: “We routinely ask our team what’s important to them to get a sense of where things stand. We ask how do we meet them where they want to be.”
On the episode of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me Saturday, the weekly quiz show on NPR, the question was asked: “The company Shopify says they have increased productivity by the equivalent of roughly 95,000 hours of work this year by simply doing what?”
“Getting a cattle prod and zapping the workers?” was incorrect.
“All of this could have just been discussed over an email after all” was the hint.
“No more meetings” was the answer. “Deleted 12,000 recurring meetings from their calendars.” “We actually tried this idea of cancelling meetings this week,” said guest host Peter Gross. “We cancelled one—completely eliminated our regular Thursday punchline meeting. And you know what happened?” Long pause.
An article in The Washington Post last week suggested that “the beginning of the year is a good time to audit your meetings, work experts say. Review all recurring meetings on your calendar. Consider which are necessary and effective, and make changes as needed,” said Steven Rogelberg, who teaches organizational science, management and psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
BIMS 2023, Feb. 23-24 in Orlando, will have this covered. One of the most anticipated sessions is The Future of Work in B2B Media—so valued by us that it will be the Closing Keynote. The speakers are: Nick Schacht, chief global development officer, SHRM; Kevin Turpin, president, National Journal; and Terri Travis, VP of human resources, Industry Dive. While they may not be in favor of cancelling all meetings, they will offer pivotal perspectives on where the industry is headed.
Here are 5 previous assessments from this esteemed panel:
Move forward. It’s not going back to the way it was. “The 40-hour work week will evolve and won’t look the same in the years to come,” Travis told us by email. “Workplaces will need to remain flexible to recruit and retain team members. I don’t envision workplaces returning to a pre-2020 model. The ‘hybrid’ model—meaning in-office some days and working remotely on others—will continue.”
The lead story in The Washington Post today was headlined, “Offices half-full, likely to stay there.” While 50% of people are back at their desks, the article reported, “overall growth in office occupancy has begun to level off in recent months.”
Spend more time “outside” your own organization. Previously, Turpin (pictured) had spoken more broadly about transformation. “When businesses are trying to recreate themselves and change, they spend too much time inside, in strategy meetings, batting around ideas that they think will work. We don’t spend enough time going around. How are [our customers’] jobs changing? What are they thinking about? What are they investing in this year? This will give you solutions.” Even more so now, with all our work parameters changing.
Consider different in-office formulas. “The shift to remote work gave employees a lot more power and control,” said Travis. “If companies do not provide flexible workplace environments, they will not be competitive in the market and will suffer from a retention perspective. We have already seen this on the front half with our recruiting efforts. I don’t envision a five-days-a-week, in-office requirement coming back in the short term. However, some team members find it useful to meet with their colleagues and departments in-office and we support that as well.” Ring Central is moving from requiring workers to come in 3 days a week to 30 days a quarter. It gives employees more latitude in how they allocate their time, said COO Mo Katibeh.
Be careful of coding bias. In a podcast with Justin Brady back in April, Nick Shacht spoke about code bias. “If you have a biased approach to evaluating resumes, which you can have in-person too, then you just code that biased approach into the system. You just make those biased decisions that much faster. That’s a problem.” Developers need to be extremely careful on what we tell the AI to do and what bias we code in, for example even requiring degrees or certifications, while overlooking more valuable skills. “We have these legacy requirements for, must have a college degree. Well, ask yourself the question, why?” Shacht explained when speaking about a sales role. “There’s a whole other set of skills that actually can contribute to success in that profession.”
Ask customers and members what has changed for them. “We had a really deep dedication to getting to know our audience as best we could,” Turpin said. “Knowing what their top challenges are, how those challenges are changing? ‘What are the new things that are getting into your budget that wasn’t there five years ago? How are you managing the office differently?’ We spent a year with our customers, asking them a set of questions over and over. The most important one was, ‘What keeps you effective?’”