Hybrid work will remain. As I mentioned above, the trend of hybrid work and work-from-home will stick around. This trend that was forced upon us through the pandemic, then retained due to recognition of its value for many employees, will continue, as companies will continue to offer flexible work options.

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 Chris Kuntz, VP of Strategic Operations, Augmentir.

Chris is the VP of Strategic Operations at Augmentir, where he oversees the planning and execution of the company’s go-to-market strategy. Chris has over 20 years of experience in high tech solution delivery, marketing, business development, and consulting in the industrial software sector. Previously, Chris held executive positions in marketing and business development at multiple successful software companies.

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 come from a family of 8 children, and one of the earliest lessons that I learned was to not assume anything will be given to you — you have to earn your way, and work hard to get to where you need to go in life. Life is always a competition of sorts, yet it’s very rewarding when you work hard and get what you want — whether selling golf balls at the local country club so you can buy a pack of baseball cards as a kid, or building a successful business so you can enjoy family vacations as an adult. … and this has shaped who I am today. I’ve been a member of several successful technology startup companies, including my current company Augmentir, and still to this day I embrace hard work and I embrace the challenge that goes with building and growing new businesses.

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?

What will be the same? People will continue to be the central figure in the workplace. Despite advancements in robotics and automation, jobs will not go away or be replaced by robots. The work we do 10–15 years from now may look different, but it will still involve people.

What will be different? People will take on more flexible, more adaptable roles (generalists), and will collaborate more closely with robots (this will certainly be the case in manufacturing and industrial sectors), location will be a non-factor, and collaboration will take on a different form as immersive experiences will become commonplace.

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

Embrace technology, and embrace the role that AI can play in helping you manage, train, engage, and support your workforce.

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?

In the near term, the biggest gap between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect will be in the area of work flexibility. I do believe that hybrid work and flexible work hours (and even the 4 day work week) will be commonplace a few years from now, but in the short term, as we look out over the next year or so, flexibility may well be the biggest challenge for employers to accommodate. Certainly, technology plays a big role in bridging this expectations gap. Employers will need to embrace strategies and tools that allow them to measure employee performance in non-standard work modes, collaborate in hybrid work models, and create experiences where employees feel engaged and empowered.

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

The WFH trend will stick around, and employers will increasingly offer the flexibility for employees to work remotely. This will have a greater impact within the desk-workers, as the majority of frontline workers (deskless workforce) will still be required to physically show up to their jobs each day. With that said, I believe that, even with frontline workers, they will continue to embrace technology and remote collaboration as a new norm.

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 think we need to be serious about being more inclusive, and accepting of much more flexible work models such as hybrid work.

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

My greatest source of optimism about the future of work is that it will be people-centric. People will continue to redefine what work is, and the way we work will be shaped in a manner that supports people, both individually and collectively.

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?

The embracing of digital technologies in manufacturing to help ensure workers are engaged, happy, and most importantly, safe, is a good example of this type of innovative strategy Technologies including mobile, connected worker solutions and even wearable technology that can sense employee fatigue are helping create safer and more rewarding experiences and are helping frontline workers feel more connected with their employers. This connection empowers employees to have a sense of ownership in their jobs, feel more engaged, and see a path to career progression.

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 think the important message here is that the future workforce will be dynamic, flexible, and much more diverse than workforces of the past, leading to a need for employers to adopt new approaches to best support employees. Training, skills tracking, engagement, retention, and succession planning will all need to be reconsidered and revised. For example, in manufacturing, workforces used to be very stable, with low turnover as the standard. Today, the manufacturing workforce looks very different, as one of the hardest hit sectors through the pandemic, with a 58% increase in job quitting. Tenure rates are down, and the skilled labor gap has forced companies to do more with less. In many cases, leading manufacturing companies are turning to digital technologies and AI to help augment their workforces and provide a more proactive support model for employees.

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

  • AI will create a new category of jobs for people. The rapid emergence of artificial intelligence (AI), including ChatGPT / Generative AI, will affect nearly all occupations. Robot technologies and AI will transform work, and create new categories of jobs for people — new types of jobs that haven’t existed up to this point. Workers will need to embrace this, learn new skills, and adjust to life alongside robot technologies.
  • Sustainability will become everyone’s responsibility. Up to now, sustainability and a company’s impact on environmental, social, and economic resources has been “Corporate’s problem to deal with.” Yet, even small actions on an employee’s part can make a big difference, and employers will begin to instill this culture throughout workforces.
  • The way we collaborate will change … again. The growth of videoconferencing and the way in which we collaborate with colleagues, customers, and partners has changed dramatically in the past five years, and it will change again in the next five. Just as remote teleconferencing transformed the way we worked, the growth of the “immersive internet” (including the metaverse and 3D virtual worlds) will transform how future workplaces collaborate and conduct business, creating richer experiences for people.
  • Hybrid work will remain. As I mentioned above, the trend of hybrid work and work-from-home will stick around. This trend that was forced upon us through the pandemic, then retained due to recognition of its value for many employees, will continue, as companies will continue to offer flexible work options.
  • Flexible hours will be the norm. Much like the fact that hybrid work will remain, I believe that employers will become universally accepting of flexible work hours, even adopting concepts like the 4 day work week. As people continue to place an increased importance on work-life balance,employers will accept flexible work hours as a way to attract and retain employees.

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?

My favorite Life Lesson Quote is: “Do things that matter.” I’ve seen this quote from multiple sources, and it always resonates with me. Here at Augmentir,we take this to heart as we create technology that is empowering frontline workers to do things that matter. Our technology is helping them to do their jobs better, be more productive, and gain more fulfillment from their work. I really think this quote can be applied to so many different aspects in life — your family, your health, your work — and it’s a great daily reminder as you navigate through life. Don’t just do things for the sake of doing them. Do things that matter.

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?

The best way to connect with me is either LinkedIn or via email — [email protected].

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