Creativity at the top. Look out for more creatives leading companies — and get ready for non-traditional thinking and ways of working that we can’t even imagine yet.
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 Carolina García Jayaram.
Carolina García Jayaram is the Founding CEO of The Elevate Prize Foundation, a global purpose-driven nonprofit that serves to amplify social impact and empower passionate problem solvers, leaders, and innovators. García Jayaram has over two decades of experience in leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to enriching and shaping social impact, philanthropic, and cultural communities. She most recently served as CEO & president of the National YoungArts Foundation and, prior to that, as president & CEO of United States Artists, where she managed 25M dollars in unrestricted awards to the country’s most accomplished artists.
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 1995, I spent a year living in India — and it changed my life. It’s where I realized that I was committed to living a life of social service, and it was a time of awakening for me as a feminist and activist. I travelled across the country — this is before cell phones or the internet, so it was a real adventure. It was simply a formative time for me.
My other hugely life-shaping experience was becoming a mother. Parenthood really changes everything about your life. My kids keep me smart and relevant — I wouldn’t know half the things I do about the Metaverse and gaming without them — and they make life more fun!
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?
I think very little will be the same. I believe we’re at a tipping point — and it’s about time. The 9–5, 5-day-a-week work schedule was designed by Henry Ford for factory line production. Today, our country’s greatest asset is our ideas and what is needed to maximize our potential is a creative, resilient and innovative workforce. The best example of those characteristics are artists and I believe more trained artists, whether musicians, poets or filmmakers, will be founding and running more and more companies.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Why would you want to future-proof your organization? Detach from the idea of legacy — it doesn’t match up with the pace at which we’re living. Be constantly changing and evolving. The quickest route to irrelevance is not to update.
Key to that? Innovating from within. People are naturally creative and entrepreneurial. Consider how you can harness and develop that better. More new companies were founded during lockdown than ever before. That energy needs to trickle down into organizations– not trickle away! When people have great ideas, support them — don’t make them leave to achieve the same level of fulfilment. Give people opportunities for new challenges, autonomy and creativity — and it could have a huge impact on retaining talent.
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?
I don’t think employees are looking for offerings. They’re looking for values and a mission.
That’s the big differentiator. Far more than, this company has flexible Fridays, but this company has more PTO.
According to a recent survey by the payment company Zelle, 75% of Millennials sent some form of financial aid to family or friends or donated to a nonprofit since the pandemic began, and Gen Z had the second highest rate at 66%. More than ever before, today’s workers want their careers to have a positive impact. All executive leaders should consider this shift as a key in remaining relevant and competitive for recruitment and retention — and it’s clear that CSR can play a vital role.
One way that we’re reimagining that is through Elevate Giving circles.
Organized through internal employee resource groups, giving circles bring people from across levels of the company together, and give them an equal opportunity to make a difference, with the company’s support. Participants pool their money and collectively donate to a specific cause, with The Elevate Prize Foundation matching contributions. It’s an inclusive way of experiencing philanthropy — and it feels very human, in a world where a lot of our interactions still have to be distanced and strictly operational.
This is a new era for big corporations. It’s not enough to say you stand for something, you have to show that you do. Elevate Giving can help.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
We used to talk about people bringing their whole selves to work and now, we really do. Literally. We see each other in our homes, with our families and pets wandering through. Workplaces are more accepting that people have families — and that with a little adjustment, we can be just as productive, if not more so.
Now, we need to re-think workspaces and working structures and make accommodations.
That’s something we’re being very thoughtful about at The Elevate Prize Foundation. We — like so many other organizations — are adopting a hybrid model. Most of the time, we work remotely, but once every couple of months, we come together for an offsite. We ideate and plan together, then we disperse and implement.
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?
There’s a sense of freedom that comes from realizing that a lot of our 9–5 office-based boundaries don’t matter as much as we thought they did.
We can hire people remotely. Globally, even. The hours of the workday can change. We can actually be flexible — not only that, it makes us better. This has the potential to open opportunities for so many people whose lives and commitments exclude them from working in a traditional office set-up.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
I’m excited that this may be a real, lasting culture-shift in work. This moment is a great opportunity to be creative and re-imagine what work looks like — and feels like.
Right now, I’m making decisions about our new office. I’m wondering, should there even be an office? What if we had a house instead? I can imagine us using spaces that bring our teams together, like a dining room, a living room and a garden, and turning bedrooms into private spaces for calls, or even using them as a place to stay when our remote team members come to Miami for meetings!
Now is a time for out-of-the-box thinking. The sky’s the limit.
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?
Embracing new structures of work can have a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of the team. When our teams meet for a few days in-person, it’s very intentional. We’re not only working, we’re having conversations, we’re going out for dinner, we’re doing fun things like playing volleyball. All of that supports people’s wellbeing.
But we’re also making sure that even in a world of Zoom, our team has opportunities for development, whether it’s attending conferences, receiving coaching, or taking enrichment courses. It’s important to help people to keep growing as humans, not only in ways that are connected to their jobs. A recent Cleveland Clinic study talks about the health benefits of engaging in altruistic activities like volunteering and charitable giving — something that Elevate Giving Circles can bring to life in the workplace.
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?
Employees expect to feel connected to their organization’s mission. You cannot expect to retain talent if all your organization means to them is that it’s just a job. A blueprint for meaning must include feeling that every individual’s contribution is an important part of something larger; that the larger goals of the company are tied to the social good of the world and that each employee feels their work is directly tied to that outcome.
Leaders have the opportunity to forge partnerships with the social impact sector, to serve as conduits to drive the company’s philanthropic efforts. This infrastructure, maintained over time, becomes culture and likely one of the most important tools companies will have in the future.
Programs like Elevate Giving can be customized with companies looking to heighten their social impact, employee engagement, and community-building goals — helping people really feel the organization’s mission and potential for impact.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
1. Hybrid work
Work from home is part of work life now. We now have to find ways for people to use their in-person time more intentionally and meaningfully.
2. Purpose-driven engagements
Employees need to feel connected to the organization’s missions — and drive positive social change. CSR programs in partnership with social impact organizations like Elevate Giving, can help make work feel meaningful — and promote real progress.
3. Creativity at the top
Look out for more creatives leading companies — and get ready for non-traditional thinking and ways of working that we can’t even imagine yet.
4. Increased Equity
Working from home can open up opportunities for more people. I’m excited to see how a more inclusive workforce changes productivity and satisfaction at work.
5. Proliferation of B-Corps
Social impact should be at the core of any business. Organizations that can focus their goals on greater missions and become impact focused will find it easier to attract and retain talent — and make a real difference in the world.
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?
“Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself.” ― Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi
I’m passionate about yoga and its potential to improve our balance, strength and flexibility — not only in our bodies, but in our minds too. I’ve been studying yoga for over 20 years, and it’s the single most important thing I do for my focus and my outlook every day. When you work in the social impact space, it’s very easy to get pulled down by the challenges and traumas you see every day. But this quote is a reminder to live mindfully, to be peaceful, and to be grateful.
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’d love to talk with Air BNB founder Brian Chesky. With such a creative background, I’d be interested in learning how bringing design thinking to his business model helped create a culture of innovation and collaboration within the organization — and helped his organization weather COVID-19.
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?
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.