In March 2020, leaders around the world were caught off guard. COVID-19 hit, and suddenly, everyone who could was working remotely. However, few noted this: the disconnection of work from time and place had been a trend for decades—the pandemic simply accelerated the existing trend. Right now, as people are slowly returning to the office, the topic everyone seems to be talking about is hybrid work. Looking into the future, I argue we should take a broader perspective: what are the big trends shaping work? And what should we prepare for today so we don’t get caught unprepared next time?
We partnered with Aalto University’s Future of Work research group to write a white paper and produce an overview of the future of work and wellbeing for leaders. In the white paper, Researcher and Hintsa’s COO Nora Rosendahl draws up two alternative ‘a-day-in-the-life’ scenarios of a professional in 2040: one uplifting, another quite depressing. The trends overview by Aalto University Research Director Hertta Vuorenmaa is a must-read for anyone wanting to get quickly up to speed on what the future of work really means. Juha Äkräs, researcher and Hintsa Chairman, continues with his view on the future of leadership. And finally, Pekka Pohjakallio, Hintsa’s leadership mentor, outlines the trends in wellbeing as it has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have in organisations.
Thriving at work shouldn’t have to feel like a utopia
When reading the white paper, what struck me personally was the number of challenges and uncertainty facing organisations and leaders: scaling down old roles while finding talent for never-before-seen jobs. Dealing with inequality in a polarised workforce. Leading self-managing teams. Balancing business growth with sustainability. Weighing ‘digital product stickiness’ against mental health implications.
And all of this against a backdrop of ill-being today: burnout, fatigue, isolation, anxiety, loneliness, division. We are often stuck in survival mode: busy ticking things off our to do list, focused on doing, not being. Thriving at work may feel like a utopia. It doesn’t have to be.
The future of work is human
In the white paper, we wanted to complement the work lens with the wellbeing lens. Not only because wellbeing is the foundation for optimal performance, but also because underlying all business challenges and trade-offs are people. Real lives, real people, real stories. Wellbeing is perhaps our single most precious personal possession, and good work is a large part of that. For us as business leaders it’s not only our duty, but our privilege to ensure we factor wellbeing into the business equation.
For me, a reassuring insight from this report was this: technology or trends alone do not determine the future—the actions of us humans do. How we react to and shape the trends make all the difference. So what will you do to factor in the human element into your business? For all the potential technology has to shape our lives, I can only echo one of the key takeaways: the future of work is human.
To read more about the future of work and wellbeing, click here to download the entire white paper.