Digital Supply Chain. Video game technology and methodology can directly impact and improve traditional business processes through the iterative and collaborative approach.

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 Alexander Fernandez, co-founder of Streamline Media Group.

Alexander is a Latino entrepreneur whose passion is building value between the video game and traditional enterprise industries. He has used that passion to help grow Streamline from a small startup focused on gaming, to a global business with 300 employees in 3 continents. He believes that technology must always be a tool that helps people move forward, and the creative economy can be a launching ground for developing markets and economies.

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?

I grew up in Utah in the ’80s and ’90s, the son of an immigrant mother from Nicaragua. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I watched my mother work tirelessly to provide for us all, but two memories jump out when I think about the experiences that made me who I am.

The first was picking fruit in the cherry orchards when I was 10. This backbreaking work paid very little and was unforgiving. Nevertheless, my mother put my twin and me there to experience migrant seasonal farmwork first-hand. It showed me what real hard work is and clarified the value our world places on labor and knowledge. I decided right then and there that I wanted to do everything I could to make a living from my mind and talents. It worked out in the end.

The second memory is my mom working non-stop to evolve from a cleaner into a social worker who ultimately led Migrant Head Start and taught early childhood development at a university. Growing up, we were painfully aware of mom’s sacrifices to keep food on the table. She was always working and never seemed to have time for anything but work. Her example of never giving up and pushing herself to the limit helped me build our company, Streamline, by showing me that people can transform their circumstances and that the currency of opportunity is sacrifice.

Those early years were incredibly informative for when we started our company, Streamline Studios, in 2001. When your goal is to run a global company with hundreds of employees, at some point, you have to realize that those employees make the company succeed. So, I fight for their worth, understand it’s my job to make payroll, and offer safe, sustainable, and progressive career paths while navigating and overcoming the onslaught of challenges that come with running a creative business for 21 years.

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?

The workforce will consist of people who want to work and those who are satisfied to exist. These differences come down to individuals’ disposition, the importance of their time, and desired life outcomes. The pandemic made it evident that remote work is possible as much as it clarified the differences in people’s output. Organizations will cater to these differences as they determine the type of roles, remuneration, and responsibilities people take on.

To be clear, this isn’t favoring one or the other, but it’s more of a reality check that for all the good that comes with remote work, it does make it easier to compare and contrast. As a result, different forms of working agreements are coming further into view, from gig work, contract work, and side hustles. This has caused businesses to review their necessary outgoing costs, not just from a logistics standpoint but from the human resources side. They need to balance the COVID-years and, at the same time, meet the new demands from employees.

Businesses can meet these demands and benefit from the opportunities that come with remote work and an expanded global talent pool. The need for talent from diverse backgrounds will increase in the coming years. Businesses will rely on the digital-first generation, who can offer their workforce different and varied perspectives, insights, and skills. As a result, they will start building a workforce that can work remotely without compromising the business needs.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

If you rest, you rust. Organizations that let this opportunity for change pass them by will be displaced. Something I’ve learned from game development and production is the positive effects of embracing change with openness and a high aptitude for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments. It means that we prepare for the unknown while remaining open to learning new things and exposing ourselves to opportunities to grow in meaningful ways.

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?

Look, what everyone wants is less work and more pay. Unfortunately, the reality is that most businesses cannot maintain or increase salaries if their output is decreased. Only when there are proof cases across industries that demonstrate less or more focused hours to maintain or increase productivity will they have a hard time meeting in the middle.

An exercise that has always helped me is thinking about the organization from the barebones perspective and working backward to determine if our people, process, and technology are balanced appropriately with our current size and aspirations. COVID took the world by surprise and thrust all businesses into a live-fire situation in which an organization’s viability was tested. Rather than jumping back to business as usual, taking the extreme learnings from those years and the tactics employed can be the foundation of operational readiness moving forward. It’s a challenging thought exercise, but it produces incredible new thinking.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

By now, business owners and senior leadership have faced the most challenging task of inspiring, developing, and growing at a distance. Work-From-Home has revealed the importance of soft skills and trust across people, teams, and clients. In many ways, it removed the distance between individuals by breaking the personal wall that existed when we went home. We consciously accept kids, partners, parents, and animals to blast into the picture while discussing the latest financial reports. In essence, work has become as human as it can get.

With that said, there’s a building desire with Gen Z to get back to the office and to experience what they never did before: colleagues in the same room. As strange as it sounds, the remoteness of remote work has created a line between those who socialized professionally and those who’ve only known their desk in their own space. In many ways, it’s like the renaissance of analog formats (film cameras/vinyl/in real life) against a digital reality (video calls/chatrooms/work from home). People can argue which one is better, but I’m seeing the new workforce realize how much proximity accelerates development, opportunities, and relationships.

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?

We need to connect Baby Boomers with Gen Z and Millenials. Many of the world’s largest employers are experiencing a retirement wave that constitutes the largest loss of knowledge the business world has experienced. Ensuring continuity and true understanding of why, what, and how a business is transferred to a new generation comes down to executive and senior leadership leveraging this moment into a bi-directional mentorship program. One in which those on the way out speak candidly about the business and those on their way in teach the latest technologies and trends. The happy medium is the new operating system they create together.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

The talent coming online from all over the world are true digital natives, open to new ideas, and hungry to show what they can do.

Our collective mental health and well-being are now considered collateral as we comprehend the future of work. So what innovative strategies do employers offer to help improve and optimize their employees’ mental health and well-being?

It’s essential to take care of your staff, but also be aware that companies will not have the capability to set up professional mental health care resources.

Well-being is a constant check on the pulse of your teams; how’s morale? Be conscious of world news and how that can affect your global teams and their families. It’s about being human, having empathy for your colleagues, and understanding that well-being at any company level is important.

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation.’ ‘The Great Reconfiguration.’ And now the ‘Great Reevaluation.’ So what are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

The business cycle, geopolitics, and state of play our world is in means business leaders should embrace volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous circumstances. Unfortunately, COVID-esque reality is the norm, and as leaders, we need to be comfortable with change all the time.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

  1. The Global Workforce. The digital-first generation will lead the way for a remote workforce that optimizes business from anywhere in the world. Companies like Microsoft are preparing for this as they enhance their remote working collaboration tools.
  2. The Metaverse. The metaverse is where our physical and digital personas become a unified reality. It’s leveraging immersive interactive technologies created for video games and leveraged to create areas of commerce, entertainment, socializing, and fun.
  3. Digital Supply Chain. Video game technology and methodology can directly impact and improve traditional business processes through the iterative and collaborative approach.
  4. Education. Digital literacy, coding, and STEM education are becoming more prevalent in schools, and a more general acceptance of video games or technology jobs as viable, sustainable careers.
  5. Community. Organizations need to embrace their workforce as a community of people who actively choose to support, advocate, and promote them. As people’s workplace options increase, businesses need to work harder to retain their employees.

I keep quotes on my desk and scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

I use this a lot, but that’s probably because it’s often relevant; “Let’s not fail because we didn’t tie our shoelaces at the beginning of the race.” Things happen that are out of your control, but if you trip over your shoelaces, you don’t do the bare minimum preparation for what lies ahead. This saying is a way to remind yourself that no matter how far you’ve come, you’re never too big to double-check the basics.

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.

Bob Iger. He returned to Disney just last week, and I’d love to talk about the transformation of media groups through game technology, craft, and business.

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?

Linked In: @alexanderfernandez

Twitter: @starveup

Twitter: @streamlinenews

Podcast: @VGRT

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.