… Wherever, Whenever. You’ll hear this ad nauseum. And even the current concept will continue to shift. Employees will want greater reign over their geography, which may or may not be in the country in which they currently live. Adapt.
When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.
As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Adam Reidel.
Adam Reidel is Head of People Operations at OneScreen.ai, a SaaS-enabled B2B marketplace provider for out-of-home (OOH) advertising. With over 20 years of human resources (HR) experience, Adam leads all aspects of HR and employee operations for OneScreen.ai, currently amid a phase of rapid startup growth. Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Adam was previously the Senior Director of Human Resources at RS&H, a national architecture, engineering, and consulting firm. Prior to this role, he served online thrift and consignment store, Swap.com in various HR roles, most recently as Vice President of Human Resources. He also worked at General Parts International, Inc., as Senior Director of Human Resources. Adam has also held HR roles at Pep Boys, Delta Sonic, Transamerica, and CVS/Caremark.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.
There are two experiences which happened almost simultaneously. In 2018, I became quite ill, to the point I lost 40 pounds within a few weeks. A few days after falling ill, my beautiful little girl was born.
In many ways, the illness could have been my swan song. I was weak, had no energy to work, and could eat maybe one bite of food a day. At one point, I got up to leave the room and collapsed — thankfully into the arms of my attentive husband. It was a difficult time, to say the least. But I had tremendous support. My mom took a leave of absence from her job so she could help me and my daughter. My husband essentially did the same so he could tend to me as I recuperated. But knowing I had this new life depending on me, getting better was the biggest motivation of all. When I had the energy to hold her and I could look into her eyes, I saw a strong woman-in-the-making who needed me to help get her there. It was a transformative period in my life, and while I never want to go through an illness like that again, it reshaped everything about me and I am better for it — including being a better father!
Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?
If only I had a crystal ball! I see an increased requirement by workers across the globe to have greater integration of their personal lives into their professional lives. They will want time off, they will want workday flexibility, and they will want safe spaces to share personal concerns interfering with their professional successes.
The need for in-person collaboration will continue to be less important but rather a focus on “creative” collaboration. Workers will continue to enjoy commute-less lifestyles but enjoy less frequent in-person meetings and more reliance on technology to connect. We will also see a shift in the generational workforce with nearly no Baby Boomers working and more Generation X retiring. As each generation has been smaller than the one previous, we will also see a younger workforce in leadership roles as a norm.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Remain agile. Clearly, we learned through the pandemic that organizations need to be better prepared to adapt to reasonable demands of their workforce, primarily working remotely. We have seen organizations requiring their workers to return to an office and other companies poaching with the lure of remote work. Remain agile and listen to what your workers are telling you. If you do not, another organization will.
What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?
Employees want to be who they are all day, every day but have been instructed by society to turn some of themselves off for business reasons. I remember when I was in college in the 1990s, being gay was “ok” but — keep it out of work when you graduate. But it is even more basic than that — it’s clothing, it’s hair, it’s tattoos. People want to be who they decide they are, but I see time and time again companies believing “their way or the highway” is still Rule Number 1. I am sure the 1950s were lovely but times are a-changin.’ My CEO has multiple tattoos and is one of the greatest leaders I have known, but I know companies I have worked for wouldn’t even interview him because he has an artistic side. The Crown Act needs to be passed. We see employers critical over something as non-consequential as hair. Hair! Suits and ties don’t get business done. I can work just the same, actually even better, in a t-shirt. So many companies cannot face today and instead wax poetic about the past and miss out on amazing talent as a result.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
I see this remaining the biggest influencer in how businesses conduct themselves for years to come. Savvy companies quickly recognized they could do this, and quickly adapted to this change. They didn’t see any reason (or minimal reason) to revert to pre-pandemic ways and instead shifted to continue to offer fully remote opportunities or generous hybrid models. Those companies who didn’t are losing employees to companies who have demonstrated a capacity to be more adaptable, which will continue.
We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?
Empathy — it’s not just for leaders anymore. We have long recognized you cannot lead — at any level — without empathy, but society as a whole needs to be more reflective and start to empathize more. Empathy doesn’t mean you always have the answer. It doesn’t mean, “you’ve been there.” That’s being sympathetic. The fact is, you can only wear so many shoes and cannot possibly walk in everyone’s shoes. However, you can show a level of care and empathy, and companies need to foster a culture of care where all are welcome.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
I finally feel there is this greater sense of purpose for most companies — especially startups challenging the status quo. Companies are finally putting the words — diversity, equity, and inclusion — into action and are taking meaningful steps in hiring and promoting women, BIPOC, and other underrepresented people. We are seeing greater acceptance, if not understanding, of gender fluidity and support for those who are transgender, transitioning, or non-binary. These are the people who will shape the workforce of the future, and it’s never been more exciting!
Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?
Companies who are not prioritizing mental health and wellbeing will fall out of favor. There is simply no way around it.
It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?
I certainly hope the latter is true and companies in this “reevaluation” phase respond quickly and put thought into action, because time is of the essence for their own sake. People are fleeing high paying jobs in negative environments, sometimes for lower pay. They are going to the organization offering workplace flexibility. They are offering greater opportunities for growth. They are laser-focused on diversity and belonging. Culture is like wanting or trying to lose weight — when you do nothing, it becomes an unhealthy state. But with work and focus, it becomes something to be proud of, something everyone wants to be a part of and surrounded by. If you aren’t willing to work at it, get out of the game. Culture will shift without you noticing. Lead from the front.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- Wherever, Whenever. You’ll hear this ad nauseum. And even the current concept will continue to shift. Employees will want greater reign over their geography, which may or may not be in the country in which they currently live. Adapt.
- Lifestyle Benefits. Employees want more than just a focus on their physical health but a focus on what matters to them personally. I see Lifestyle Spending Accounts becoming more popular as it puts the power of choice in the employee’s wallet. One that I know will become increasingly important is allowing employees to tend to caring for others while integrating work (or in some instances, reintegrating). While companies are trending positively when it comes to working mothers being able to integrate their responsibilities as a mother, the pandemic showed us 1) this needs to get even more personal and 2) men are viewed just as critical with parenting as women. Additionally, more companies need to be better at the same when it comes to their workforce needing time for elder care and integrating this responsibility. Gen X, in particular, is taking care of their parents more and companies need to quickly respond.
- Data. Data and storytelling with People information will be increasingly important in the next five years. Measuring engagement, retention risks, and DE&I metrics (BIPOC, women being promoted, and more) are going to be essential skills for People professionals.
- Creating Moments. As the pandemic continues to evolve and allows people to be more comfortable leaving the house, while at the same time, companies embrace a remote workforce, I see companies shaping events to be memorable moments for employees. Retreats, outings, and other similar events are becoming more popular and allowing employers to connect teams in person while also creating memorable moments for employees to reflect upon for years to come.
- Mental Health Support. This is a critical piece, and it is extending beyond the oft-forgotten Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and medical plans. Companies like Cerebral, Talkspace, BetterHelp, and CheckingIn are becoming more of a requirement for workers as companies provide mental health and wellbeing resources at the tip of the employee’s finger when they need support.
I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?
“People are like sticks of dynamite…the power is on the inside, but nothing happens until the fuse gets lit.” Mac Anderson was spot on. People — everyone — need and deserve that one person who inspires them, who motivates them, who believes in them.
I seek to do all of these things in big and small ways in all I do. My role is to serve. My role is to respond. Leadership is not as much about influencing any longer but inspiring.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.
I have a list! I seek inspiration and there are two who do it often. Brene Brown and her eloquence in articulating what empathy really is, and Simon Sinek for his eternal optimism and for inspiring me to know my “why.” And finally, Jim Knight. He gets what makes culture tick, and what makes it dynamic. If they are reading this — lunch is on me!
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
I have not been a major adopter of social media. I don’t Insta, and I am still not clear what Tik Tok really is, but I am somewhat active in LinkedIn, primarily sharing amazing things my company, OneScreen.ai, is doing and how we are really shaping our company around the needs of our workforce — not the other way around. Join me on this journey!
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.