… Social Media will remain king. If a company wants to continue to be successful, they will hire a social media expert. Social media content creators, managers and strategist will continue to be valuable to employers and can expect to be desirable by small and large companies alike.

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 Alphonso Nathan, MS, LPC.

Alphonso Nathan, MS, LPC is a licensed professional counselor, author, speaker, and serial entrepreneur. Alphonso, also known as ‘Phonz the Therapist” champions mental health in underserved communities by depicting that representation in said communities’ matters. Currently, Alphonso is working on a docuseries, titled “Healing the Culture”, which focuses on giving viewers a “fly on the wall” perspective of a therapy session, featuring tastemakers and celebrities in the entertainment and sports industries.

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?

In the 8th grade, I was sent to Milton Hershey School, a boarding school for underprivileged youth. My mother thought that the environment that I was being raised in, in Staten Island, New York was not conducive to my growth or ability. It was a huge culture shock coming from the inner city to farm life. I learned life skills, such as flexibility, grit, and coping skills from my time there.

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?

Money will always be the motive in the workforce. People will continue to make decisions based on pay scale.

Brick and mortar locations will become primarily extinct. Businesses will still have a small number of employees that are required to come to the office (ie: administrative and essential workers), but most employees will be remote/virtual. There will continue to be construction of commercial real estate. Commercial real estate will be a large majority of warehouses and storage facilities to combat the growth of small businesses from the pandemic. In the years to come, I see a trend in more things (ie: events, meetings, extracurricular activities), taking place in the metaverse.

Currently, we are seeing a trend in people valuing happiness over their position. I predict that the length of time that people will stay at a job will depend solely on how they feel in that position.

Businesses and their employees will continue to value their mental health over their position at a job.

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

Go with the flow. Currently, there are more than 10 million jobs open in the U.S. People value themselves a lot more than any other time in history. It’s time to decide what is important to employers as well. People are leaving positions at an astronomical rate and starting their own businesses that suit their needs and value. Employers must ask themselves do they want to be a successful company with compromise or competition because of employees leaving and starting their own companies.

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?

After proving that people can be productive at home, employers are still going to try to bring their employees back to a brick-and-mortar location. Employers will have to decide if keeping these commercial buildings/headquarters makes financial sense. I’ve heard so many failed stories from business-owner clients that tried this exact tactic and people decided to not return at all. Our business also employs people and we have decided to leave it up to each employee as to what makes sense for their life. I, personally, work 2 0r 3 days in the office and the rest virtual.

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

Productivity will increase. Before the pandemic, if you had a day of meetings, you were spending more time driving and parking than being in the actual meeting. Now, you can do a whole day of meetings with people all over the world without having to leave your home.

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?

Employers’ willingness to adopt a hybrid model is very necessary. Allowing for comfortability and flexibility of workplace environment is going to be key to pivoting with the changing culture as it pertains to the workforce.

With the advancement of telehealth services in the medical and mental health fields, there is serious need for collaboration for practicing outside of your licensed state. Maybe, a switch to a national license instead of individual states.

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

So many of us adjusted to the pandemic positively. We proved that we can be flexible about how work is completed and still be successful. We created other sources of income and generated new ideas to survive.

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?

1. Events directed towards the well-being and growth of the employees during company time to enrich employees.

2. Adding mental health services to benefit packages.

3. In-house mental health professionals on-site for high-stress jobs.

4. Extended lunch break options.

5. Adding break rooms and decompression rooms with refreshments and other activities.

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?

Having empathy in the workplace increases revenue. t’s a new world. The typical employee was working from home for almost 2 years due to the pandemic. After a couple of months, a habit is formed. Now, add 22 more months. People have 10’s or 100’s of houseplants, a new pet, and spent 100s of dollars to DIY and redecorate their workspace to be a zoom-friendly environment. Why would they want to go back to an office environment completely? Alphonso would love to talk to your audience about the importance of how employers having empathy can increase revenue and add longevity to their employees’ work time at the company. Simply adding mental health days into the monthly schedule or adopting a hybrid model boosts company morale.

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

  1. Nurses know their worth now and that isn’t going to change. With the shortage of medical staff in parts of the country, Nurses have been called to work in other States that they haven’t pre-pandemic. Nurses will continue to travel and work where the money is at.
  2. Mental Health will continue to be the “cool thing”. It’s not only cool, but it’s highly more acceptable to seek a therapist than ever before. Our celebrities and influencers are the spokespeople for mental health. It will now be acceptable for students to choose mental health as a career path. Also, BIPOC mental health will continue to trend upwards. As foundations and BIPOC mental health providers like myself continue to champion mental health in our communities.
  3. Internet will continue to be a hot commodity. We have proved to ourselves that we can conduct business solely online and I don’t think that is changing anytime soon. Video conferencing has become a normal day to day activity. Don’t be surprised if the cost continues to rise due to usage.
  4. Social Media will remain king. If a company wants to continue to be successful, they will hire a social media expert. Social media content creators, managers and strategist will continue to be valuable to employers and can expect to be desirable by small and large companies alike.
  5. Customizable and Diverse kinds of work. Not only will there be a trend in working remote, but the desire for contracted work will see an upward trend. More people are finding that self-employment is a better option for them. The ability to work where you want, with whom you want, and how long you want has been a trending factor in millennials and Gen-Z’ers.

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?

“A smart man learns from his own mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

It reminds me that I need to “pick the brains” of the people that are where I want to be in life. I need to look at their mistakes, so that I don’t have to do the same. It’s a reminder to not be prideful. It’s a reminder to ask for help when needed and that you that you need people to succeed.

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 would love to have a sit down with Elon Musk. He is one of my three people I would love to meet in this world. He is an innovator and a disruptor.

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?

Readers can find me @phonzthetherapist on social platforms and can also check out the website phonzthetherapist.com for updates on the docuseries and merch.

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