In talking about the future of work what often gets lost in the conversation is that many times the future that one is discussing is happening in the now. As we’ve seen this past year companies large and small have had to restructure their business models quickly because their very survival was at stake. As the New Year is upon us it is more critical than ever to focus on what is needed not only for companies to persist in this time of transition, but to reflect on what is needed to be successful now. By developing a check list the primary goal is to offer everyone from entrepreneurs, small business owners, to senior management and corporate executives a blueprint to examine and serve the needs of their organization. The check list is itself a living organism that can expand or contract based on the specific concerns of the organization. But the hope is for readers to embrace a greater understanding that engaging in the future of work is about leadership having the tools they need to envision their organizations growth in relation to a changing world.
If we have learned anything this past year, it is the role that flexibility plays in not only the sustainability of an organization, but the critical value of its growth. Flexibility must be the mantra for companies large and small when it comes to the future of work. The obvious question however is, what does this actually mean? The fact is organizational culture should draw from the well of the disability experience to have a greater appreciation for the various machinations that will be needed to find further success in the future of work. Areas from human capital to redefining management strategies, to cultivating a healthy corporate culture are all on the table. The ability to adapt to a new set of norms will be an essential component to the future of work. Companies need to expand their sense of imagination and see the importance of the disability community beyond strictly a pool of human capital, but rather as a benchmark to help them influence a broader understanding of the business of tomorrow.
One of the most critical ideas in the future of work that needs to be discussed on this checklist is the importance of perspective. Leadership must be equipped to think more broadly, diversity and inclusion is fundamental in helping to affect change and expand perspectives across the larger business ecosystem. As discussed in the past, the Disability Narrative once again can be a beacon of influence for business leaders. Using the diversity of experiences across the Disability Narrative there are connecting points to areas of race, culture, sexual orientation, and beyond. It is having this broad coalition of ideas that not only helps to solidify a broader foundation but prepares organizational growth to write their own story when it comes to the future of work for their organization.
3. Workplace Design
If the coronavirus era has shown us anything, it is the fact that the very traditions of workplace culture are being questioned. The established models that we have become accustomed to over the years are being challenged. The notion of a centralized office may be going the way of the dodo. Yet it is important that business leaders slowly and methodically think through the effectiveness that workplace design has on their employees, morale, and the evolving corporate culture. Workplace design has always been part of the conversation around disability and work. Being able to engage with these stakeholders can open the key to having a more robust action plan for the future of work.
These topics begin the first part of the checklist around the future of work. The second part focuses on something slightly different. If business leaders are going to be successful in this future endeavor it will serve them well to rethink their role around the very culture of work itself. They should not be solely seen as just businessmen and women, but rather, something more. They are fundamental contributors to the larger river of knowledge that will define a robust culture for the future. They are thinkers, philosophers and poets. While these opinions may sound somewhat highfalutin, the argument must be made that business leaders wherever they may be are critical to our way of thinking about our society and the potential for a brighter future.
In the next Mindset Matters column, we will pick up on this theme and explore how business leadership and the Disability Narrative, along with the future of work can be actualized as a tool to build a stronger and healthier society.