The metaverse. The promise of the metaverse suggests we’ll soon (within a decade) incorporate augmented reality/virtual reality and holograms into our communications arsenal. This is argued to keep things personalized, so we don’t lose those vital human connections. We’ll simply experience those connections in different ways. Organizations that are resistant to change may struggle the most, as new technologies rapidly replace current models. Technology has a tendency to advance quickly — just look at how fast mobile devices revolutionized our lives. The changes the metaverse proposes to bring could alter our personal and work lives in even more radical ways.

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 Angela McGuire.

Angela is the Global Managing Director at McGuire Fecarotta & Jackson. She specializes on the placement of elite groups of associates and partners within the most prominent law firms throughout the world. She brings over fifteen years of experience to law firm leaders and attorneys in areas such as individual and group acquisitions, law firm mergers, office openings, competitive intelligence and strategic market positioning.

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 2006, I took a leap and transitioned my career into legal recruiting. I had a background in law but no recruiting experience, so I was eager to learn and wanted to absorb as much as possible from my new colleagues. At the end of the first week, one of the tenured members on the team pulled me aside and told me I would never make it in the business because I was too nice and far too compassionate with clients. She said she was doing me a favor and suggested I leave.

My reaction surprised me. I never thought about packing my bags and resigning. I thought about proving her wrong. She lit a fire under me and I was going to show her that I would do more than just make it. I wanted her to see that I could be successful and also be myself.

She unintentionally motivated me in a way I could not have done on my own. With this accelerated drive, hard work and supportive colleagues, I soon became the highest performer on the team and went on to co-found and manage a highly successful recruiting firm. She will never know my story because she quit a few weeks after our conversation, but I realize now that I never needed to prove anything to her — I needed to prove my worth and abilities to myself. And I thank her for giving me the opportunity to do just that.

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?

Mental Health: Employers are slowly starting to grasp the prevalence of mental health challenges at work, and we will see a wide-scale organizational adoption of wellness practices, policies and benefits. We expect shifts such as shortened workweeks, reduction in billable hours, free counseling sessions and regular mental health trainings for its leaders, managers and all employees to prioritize the importance of mental health. We will also see greater popularity in employee assistance programs to provide extra mental wellness support.

Remote and Independent Work: The rise of remote and high-level independent work arrangements will continue to revolutionize the way we work and how companies recruit candidates.

Management: We will see changes in management methods as building trust and communicating with an in-person team is different from via chat, email or video.

Diversity: We have a long way to go, but I am optimistic about our future with greater workplace diversity.

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

Change is difficult, but organizations that do not get ahead of this radical employment market will put themselves behind the power curve. Talented people want to work for open-minded and innovative companies, so adjust your mindset and start making changes before it’s too late.

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?

The most significant gap may be the thing employees are asking for the most — flexibility.

During the pandemic, many laid-off or underemployed workers found freedom in new opportunities. Maybe they went back to school to learn a new trade or took up freelancing or launched their own business. Meanwhile, savvy schools and companies like Upwork took notice of these trends and tailored their marketing to facilitate all of these career switchers.

Those who retained their current positions had the luxury of exploring other employment options from home. Interviews were conducted via video without the added stress of wearing a suit to work and telling your boss you had to leave early for a doctor appointment.

Employers must realize that their talent will continue to wander off unless they make concessions and offer more flexibility.

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

As is said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” But interestingly, remote work has been around for many years, so in some ways, it is surprising that it took a pandemic to popularize it.

Companies have long used remote call centers employing people working from home. Universities have offered distance learning programs for years, with both students and faculty engaging from home. There are many other examples, but the point is, suddenly millions of people are aware of and accustomed to this concept. Now there’s no going back and little reason to do so. Employers and employees alike must continue to explore and embrace the possibilities of virtual work environments.

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?

I like that — ”works for everyone!” Historically, employers set all the rules, and if a person wanted a job, they had to go along to get along. Employees had very little leverage in what was essentially a zero-sum game. But the game has changed, and employers must compromise.

In fact, employers should want to change; they should be the ones pushing for this workforce revolution that equates to a non-zero-sum game type called a “win-win game.” The idea is fairly self-explanatory — employees get what they want and need, and employers also get what they need. In particular, this includes satisfied employees who will exhibit enhanced company loyalty and increased productivity. But to truly reach such a state will require a fundamental mindset shift on a massive society level.

Another vital trend that most everyone agrees is positive is the push for diversity, equity and inclusiveness. This applies to everything from applicant screening and hiring to fair pay and promotion policies, and a larger commitment to non-discrimination and anti-racism.

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

People will be happier. If done correctly (as a “win-win” work agreement where all sides are satisfied), both employers and employees of the future should feel more empowered and less stressed out.

Work should never involve the feeling of one entity exploiting a group of subordinates. Everyone should feel they have a stake in the success of the enterprise. Everyone should feel like their contributions matter, and their concerns are heard and acted upon. Employees at all levels, from senior leadership to boots-on-the-ground laborers and new college grads, should have more freedom and control over the work they perform in exchange for pay and perks. They should have a better work-life balance, with more time for family and friends.

Meanwhile, as the world becomes increasingly multicultural and companies become less inveterate, we’ll see still more diversity in teams. New perspectives and shared experiences will drive innovation faster than we’ve ever seen in history.

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?

Mental health impacts each of our lives, at home and at work, and it also impacts an employer’s bottom line. Companies are taking note and we are seeing a decreased stigma about discussing the topic of mental well-being at the workplace. I like hearing about companies that are adding mental health coverage into their employees’ insurance plans, which is logical given the strong link is between mental and physical wellness.

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?

Organizations never know what’s around the corner, but there is no excuse for being inveterate and unable to quickly maneuver along with market demands. Employees are now in the driver’s seat and are no longer willing to settle. Companies need new, flexible options as well as a genuine commitment to focusing on its most valuable asset — the people within the organization.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

#1: The rise of remote work.

COVID forced much of the world into a remote work situation with little notice and without asking for permission. Even employees who did not want to make the transition eventually got used to it and now don’t want to lose the option of working from home.

Remote work isn’t ideal in all situations, but when feasible, many companies will provide some level of flexibility. Not only will this keep current employees happy, but it can increase employee productivity and reduce work absences. It saves the need for expensive office space and reduces overhead costs. It also opens a far larger talent pool for companies to build and retain stronger teams.

#2: The rise of the gig economy.

Gigs are income-earning services performed outside of the traditional permanent employer-employee relationship. Those in the gig economy are typically freelancers or self-employed individuals who offer services or goods to companies and often work with multiple clients at a time.

The gig economy trend is projected to continue growing as it empowers workers to have more flexibility, autonomy and a broader choice of opportunities. Freelancers and contractors don’t have to live in the same town or state or even the same country as their employer.

The same is true for employers; they can hire remote workers from anywhere, and, if using the gig model, they can hire à la carte, based on their needs.

#3: Upskilling for remote managers and leaders.

Companies are working to perfect the way their supervisors lead and communicate with employees.

That was certainly the case when K-12 schools shifted to remote learning before the affected teachers had ever learned about remote teaching pedagogy. Students around the country experienced an unprecedented loss of learning and are now struggling to recover from that knowledge gap.

Organizations will need to adjust leadership roles to suitably incorporate remote work supervision best practices. Currently, we see employers offering professional development courses designed to help leaders recognize and respond accordingly when employees are feeling overwhelmed, stressed out or dissatisfied. The more tailored such courses can be, the better, since each work environment is different and every employee is unique.

#4: Decentralization and the rise of e-commerce.

In recent decades, Americans have seen how companies like Amazon disrupted traditional retail bookstore models. We’ve seen how iTunes and music streaming services put record stores out of business. We’ve watched Netflix and streaming video services make movie rental stores obsolete while also giving traditional movie theaters a run for their money. We’ve even seen Lyft and Uber slowly replace taxi stands, and food delivery apps change how meals get delivered.

Such trends will only continue, so businesses need to keep up and, when possible, try to stay ahead of the curve by becoming innovators themselves.

#5: The metaverse.

The promise of the metaverse suggests we’ll soon (within a decade) incorporate augmented reality/virtual reality and holograms into our communications arsenal. This is argued to keep things personalized, so we don’t lose those vital human connections. We’ll simply experience those connections in different ways.

Organizations that are resistant to change may struggle the most, as new technologies rapidly replace current models. Technology has a tendency to advance quickly — just look at how fast mobile devices revolutionized our lives. The changes the metaverse proposes to bring could alter our personal and work lives in even more radical ways.

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?

I am obsessed with quotes! It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I often rely on “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

The brain is powerful and it allows us to accomplish amazing things, but it also wants to protect and comfort us. This quote encourages me to embrace discomfort, fear and the possibility of failure. It makes me want to engage in new experiences and choose the riskier path. It awakens my playful and spontaneous spirit and inspires me to say “yes” more often. This all appropriately leads to the famous Mark Twain quote, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

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.

Brené Brown. Her content speaks for itself; there is no doubt we would have an interesting conversation. I also think she is beautifully raw and courageous. Her story is fascinating, and I admire her for sharing it on the center stage despite not loving the attention. She takes a fresh (and bold) approach to inspiring others to lead a more meaningful life, and the world could use more of that right now. I’m available anytime, Brené!

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 would be delighted to connect with the readers!


[email protected]

McGuire Fecarotta & Jackson LLC

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