Companies simply need to say “goodbye to the grind” and “hello to happy”. What I mean is that they need to allow their employees, as I mentioned earlier, to be measured on their results, and be rewarded when they have great innovation. Rewarding your employees with more free time for those things that make them happy will lead to a more productive workforce.

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 Denise Gosnell, CEO of The Vacation Effect.

Denise Gosnell is a business strategist, lifestyle designer, attorney, real estate investor, and 7-figure entrepreneur. She currently owns and runs 3 companies in 3 totally different industries while working an average of just 3 days per week. Denise has spoken on stages in 8 different countries over the years along with Sir Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Joe Polish, Ryan Deiss, Dan Sullivan, and many others.

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.

When I was growing up, I was teased for being poor, and it conditioned me to focus my life on becoming a millionaire so no one could ever tease me again. I then focused on being the best at everything I ever did. I was co-valedictorian of my high school class. I got my bachelor’s degree in less than 3 years while working a full-time job. This led me down a path to working all the time and getting sucked into our North American culture of “grind, grind, grind” to get to the next level. I became a software developer for EDS and Microsoft and authored and co-authored 8 books about computer technology. I spoke on Microsoft stages in 7 countries in my 20’s. In parallel to being a software engineer in high demanding jobs, I went to law school and finished a semester early, all while still working full-time. I was making 6-figures by my mid-20’s. I then became an attorney and excelled in that field, being the highest billing associate at the big firm I worked for. I then started my own law firm and coaching company, plus a real estate company with my husband. By my early 30’s I had become the millionaire I had always dreamed of, but it wasn’t some magic moment that made life perfect. I have excelled in almost everything I’ve ever done. But I did it the harder and less fulfilling way of being addicted to my work. One day something drastic happened that forced me to find a better approach than the grind, grind, grind mentality.

On June 20, 2011, a fireman knocked on my door telling me that my house was on fire, and that my family needed to get out immediately. He asked me the most powerful question I’ve ever been asked in my life: “What do you want us to retrieve in the next 5 minutes before your house is destroyed by fire and water?” What I had him retrieve was a bunch of sentimental stuff, not all of the fancy stuff that could be replaced. I realized at that moment that I wasn’t living my life in alignment with my true priorities. After the fire, I made it my passion to figure out how to grow my businesses while also having plenty of free time. As I started my journey to figure out how to create a lifestyle business, I went on a meditation retreat. The answer I was seeking was, “How can I have the 3-day work week that I’ve always wanted?” While I was laying on the grass doing my meditation exercises, I received a message from the divine that said “All you have to do is decide and make today what you want tomorrow to be.” This discovery led me to conducting a time experiment where I changed my schedule to work just 3 days per week in my companies. It was painful at first because I had to learn to “let go” and delegate tasks more effectively so I would have more time to focus on what really mattered. What happened that year is that I made the most money of my life up to that point and I had worked 40% less. This led me to create The Vacation Effect, a coaching company on a mission to help other successful entrepreneurs create their own lifestyle business with plenty of free time and business growth.

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 there will still be entrepreneurs and business owners who will hold strong onto the grind model because this is what has been so deeply instilled in our society. What I mean by the grind, grind, grind model is that the natural tendency in our North American business culture is to work harder, instead of smarter. So many employers focus more on the time that people spend at work instead of focusing on the results people are achieving. Even though technological advances have provided solutions to streamline processes, there will be a lot of companies that will still value hours versus results, and it’s quite ridiculous that we still operate that way. But old habits are hard to break.

One result of the Great Resignation was giving employees a taste of freedom. Employees demonstrated their ability to work from home and that they could be just as productive. Now, companies are learning that their workforce is no longer willing to put up with the grind. This is what I think will be different in 10–15 years. Companies will be forced to deal with the fact that their employees are not willing to put up with the old broken grind model anymore and will need to pivot into a more flexible results-based model, adopting a work smarter, not harder philosophy. There won’t be a one size fits all solution because each company and its employees are different based on their line of business. But there are many ways of rewarding staff, whether that be a 4-day work week or a 3-day work week or even a customized plan for what really matters most for that employee. Companies who do not make this transition will get left behind and wonder why they keep losing top talent to companies who value the results their employees achieve and reward them for it (versus the old model of tracking and measuring time spent).

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

Organizations should start rewarding their employees based upon results right now, not the time that they spend, and should also offer employees the flexibility to do their job in different ways. People want more flexibility and people want more rewards for their ingenuity. They don’t want to feel like they are the pack mules, making the board members, the stockholders and the owners rich while they are working hard and getting worn out. Not to mention, they are likely doing this while compromising the best years of their lives. If an employee can figure out how to solve a problem or complete a task in half of the time, then the company should reward that behavior and not be upset that the employee wants to take off that extra time that they freed up. Let your staff bear the fruits of their labor and benefit from their resourcefulness in getting the job done better and in less time.

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 biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect moving forward is giving up the mindset that an employee must be physically present in the office and recognizing that they can be productive outside of a customary work setting. There is an unwritten expectation that an employee must clock so many hours in order to get the job done, yet there is something magical that happens when you empower your team to be accountable for their progress in a setting that inspires their creativity on a higher scale.

Of course, there will be some employers that will not be able to offer the flexible positions that people will demand, such as in certain healthcare settings or other professions where an onsite presence is required. It’s hard to be a doctor or nurse treating all patients remotely, right? We don’t have the virtual technology yet to allow them to administer things that require a physical presence. But as we have seen through the Great Resignation, there is a shortage in our healthcare workforce. Healthcare workers got tired of not having flexibility and working so many hours that they ultimately said goodbye to the grind and changed careers or sought out other jobs in the industry that weren’t as demanding, such as virtual nursing or working for an organization that needs a nurse to review claims.

Certain professions will make this reality a lot more challenging, but the advice I can offer is that employers can work toward getting more creative on how to address these concerns. If they don’t, they could lose their qualified talent. Some examples of rewards to consider include: monetary bonuses, daycare perks, better health care benefits, more vacation time or a more flexible work schedule that might involve working fewer days. Employers need to set the expectations of results desired, offer insight as to what that role looks like and then reward their employees when they’ve met those results quicker than anticipated. Let your team members enjoy the fruits of their labor just like business owners do.

All businesses will be different and will need to structure what works best. But I do encourage businesses to identify what matters most to your employees and be innovative on how you recognize employees for a job well done. Figure out what motivates them to get the results you need for your business and reward them accordingly.

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

As I mentioned earlier, more employees expect to be able to work from home after having had the opportunity to prove to their employers that they were capable of being productive at home.

This experiment also confirmed to many employers, who thought it wasn’t possible to operate that way, that it is indeed possible. In fact, many employers acknowledged that it can also reduce their overhead, because they no longer have to pay for as many commercial leases, with various office locations to house their team members. Overall, it can have a drastic impact on reducing expenses.

And, as long as they hire the right people that are capable of working remotely and have the right checks and balances to measure their people on their results, then everyone can benefit, creating a win-win situation for all parties. The employee wins by having a work from home solution and the employer wins from the reduced overhead of not paying for office space for so many different employees.

Under the right circumstances, this is a great solution. However, employers will need to focus on hiring employees who are willing to be accountable for their results, because that is really the only way the work from home model is successful. Employers don’t want to be responsible for micro-managing a virtual team, which can be challenging.

And, not everyone is cut out to work from home. You have to find the right person for the job and allow them to thrive. That part will never change.

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 must educate society on how broken the “grind” model is. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the grind, grind, grind mentality is the best way to succeed, when that’s not actually true. Our business leaders keep propagating this idea. Sure, constant hard work is one path to success, but it’s not sustainable long term, and there’s actually a better way.

To change this, employers have to be willing to do things differently than they have in the past and set aside the outdated grind mentality.

Our society as a whole also needs to be willing to stand up for the principle that working smarter is better than harder, and there is nothing anyone should feel guilty about if we can get the same results in 3 days as we used to do in 6.

One of the principles I teach is called “Grow by Subtraction”, where you grow by removing from your to-do list versus adding to it. You focus on doing the things that really matter and eliminate or delegate the rest.

We must shift away from the grind mentality and instead adopt a results-based system in order to create a better future for everyone.

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

Thankfully, because of the pandemic, one of the blessings in disguise has given everyone a glimpse into how broken the grind model has always been. As I mentioned earlier, employees were given the opportunity to prove they could be productive when they were working remotely. The myth of needing to be at the office all the time to get stuff done was debunked.

During this work from home period, many employers were not able track the number of hours employees worked since they weren’t in the office punching a clock. Employers had to trust in their team and take their word for it, based on the results that were being produced.

I am optimistic that this will set a trend in the right direction towards a new results-based workforce where more and more employers will offer flexibility to their team and start measuring by results instead of time punched on a clock.

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?

A lot more companies are starting to offer benefits around mental health and wellbeing, such as counseling sessions and exercise rooms, and I think that’s a good thing. Employers are beginning to encourage meditation and other self-care principles, whether that be physical, social, mental, spiritual, or emotional. These programs are becoming more commonplace, and I think they will continue to be more commonplace.

Some employers even have wellness budgets for their staff, which offers flexibility to the employee to use toward the self-care that works best for them. This method offers a more personal approach instead of a one size fits all mentality.

I’ve seen companies create meditation rooms, incorporate fitness amenities, or subsidize health club memberships, and also create relaxing spaces that foster collaboration and connection with fellow team members.

I am a believer of conducting experiments and think more and more companies should conduct experiments to see how certain out of the box ideas impact their employees’ happiness and productivity. Some of the best breakthroughs in my own life have come from conducting experiments. I may read something that says a certain activity will be beneficial, so then I become curious about its effects and challenge myself through a 30-day experiment to see how an activity or refraining from a particular habit can improve my own mental health and wellbeing. As a matter of fact, it was the meditation retreat I mentioned before that led me to experimenting with the reduced work schedule that I had always dreamed of.

It would be great if more companies start to experiment with different types of fun activities that their employees could use to engage and compete with each other. For example,, one company I worked at over two decades ago did this with a ping pong table, and it was amazing how much fun we had and how often we solved problems right after playing the ping pong game with fellow co-workers.

Companies who invest in the mental health and wellbeing of their teams and encourage a culture of fun and experimentation will create a happier and more loyal workforce.

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?

Companies simply need to say “goodbye to the grind” and “hello to happy”. What I mean is that they need to allow their employees, as I mentioned earlier, to be measured on their results, and be rewarded when they have great innovation. Rewarding your employees with more free time for those things that make them happy will lead to a more productive workforce.

If your company develops a culture that emphasizes the importance of learning about your employees’ aspirations on both a personal and professional level, even if they leave you in the future, they will still be a pipeline for new talent because they will recommend you to their friends. Creating an environment that shows you truly care about them and their wellbeing will foster loyalty and even longevity.

There will always be a time when your employees need to move on, but the goal is to have a win-win relationship for as long as you work together, where you each make the other better, and you both care about each other. In a counterintuitive way, a happy and healthy work relationship creates a company full of loyal employees who will give you their very best for as long as they are there, knowing that you will be supportive of the fact that one day, they will outgrow you. And that’s okay.

As an example, one of my team members has a dream of owning her own company one day. I am not going to stop her from pursuing her dream. In fact, I have told her that I want to support her on that endeavor and have encouraged her to ask questions about how to go about doing so. Now that I know this is her dream, I reward her with the things that she cares about that will help her get there. In the meantime, she is a loyal and happy employee who has been with me for several years.

Get to know your employees. There is a book called “The Dream Manager” by Matthew Kelly where he describes a fictional story that mentions hiring a Dream Manager for your company as someone that is different than the human resources department. In his story, the Dream Manager’s responsibility was to manage employee dreams by getting to know each employee’s goals and dreams confidentially if that employee so desired, and then helping the company identify the rewards and bonuses most meaningful to each employee.

If companies simply start investing extra effort into supporting our employees’ goals and happiness as the reward for the results they bring through their great work and innovations, I believe that our global society could evolve into the highest level of meaning, fulfillment, and success that we have ever experienced before.

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

  1. The percentage of employees who work remotely that did not have this luxury before the pandemic. The Great Resignation introduced an unprecedented business model that showed the world how companies were able to pivot in the face of a pandemic. I am confident that very few companies were prepared to navigate a mandated shut-down. Ultimately, the companies who survived went through a mindset shift on how to manage their teams and maintain productivity. An interesting trend to monitor would be the number of companies who have adopted the idea of giving their team the freedom to work from home permanently.
  2. The percentage of companies who have adopted more flexible work schedules. It would also be interesting to track the number of businesses who have changed their outlook on the customary 5-day work week. As a result of the Great Resignation, it seems evident that employees truly value flexibility to meet the demands of balancing work and life…but the question remains, how flexible are businesses in adopting this model to maintain their top talent? I recommend tracking what percentage of companies have implemented a non-traditional work schedule, like a 4-day work week for example, and are thriving because of it.
  3. Tracking the success of companies who embrace a totally remote workforce. Many companies are brick and mortar companies, whereas others are seeing success by creating a workforce that is completely remote with less office overhead. This was unthinkable before the pandemic, but as companies accepted the fate of sending their workforces home, many began evaluating the cost savings of not paying for commercial real estate. As an example of this, I have staff located in 3 states and 1 international. Through technology we are all able to stay connected and continue making forward progress toward our business goals. It would be interesting to track the success of companies who embrace a totally remote workforce, and to see if this model is showing success across most industries.
  4. What percentage of jobs are being replaced by Robots and Artificial Intelligence? As technology enhancements continue to evolve, how will introducing robots and artificial intelligence impact the human workforce? Sure, many industries including manufacturing, medicine, warehouse operations and law enforcement are benefitting from robotic enhancements, but will these advanced developments contribute to higher unemployment by replacing jobs previously done by humans? Having the means to track the positive and/or negative impact of robotics in business will be an interesting trend to monitor.
  5. Tracking the average number of hours worked in the US vs. the average number of hours in Europe. For years, it has been said that Americans tend to value material possessions, while Europeans value time off to enjoy long lunches and visits to the beach. Will the Great Resignation have a positive impact on the American workforce to evolve and understand the value of free time as much as we have valued the grind, grind, grind mentality in the past? That would be very interesting to track.

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?

It is hard for me to pick only one life lesson quote because both of my favorite quotes are related to each other and shaped who I am today as an entrepreneur and CEO to my staff. For me, my top quotes that I work hard to live by are:

“Make today what you want tomorrow to be” and “Someday is not a day of the week.”

As for, “Make today what you want tomorrow to be,” this is the very quote that I received as a download during that meditation retreat I mentioned earlier. This quote is what set me off on my personal journey to figure out how to rework my own companies to finally create the freedom lifestyle I had been seeking without sacrificing business growth.

Now, each time I find myself saying: “Someday, when I achieve that certain result, I’ll do that thing I want to do”, I stop myself mid-sentence and ask how I can bring that into today, so that I can make today what I want tomorrow to be.

That leads me to my other favorite life lesson, which is “Someday is not a day of the week.”

I am sure everyone has said the same thing to yourself, “Someday when I have more time, I’ll spend it with my family and friends” or ”Someday when I have more money, I’ll buy a fancy sports car”. I call these Someday Maybes.

It was after my house fire incident, I learned that “Someday is not a day of the week” and that there is never a better time to spend on the things that will bring you joy and fulfillment than finding a way to include them in your life RIGHT NOW in some form.

After all, I highly doubt that anyone on their death bed has ever said, “Man, I sure wish I spent more time working”. Most people will likely say, “I sure wish I spent more time on those things I really cared about when I had the good health or the money to do so.”

So, the next time you find yourself caught up in the “someday maybe” trap, tell yourself that “someday is not a day of the week”, and that today is a great day to “make today what you want tomorrow to be”.

And if you keep doing this, you will most likely look up a year from now and have a completely different (and far more fulfilling) life. And if you are a business owner and encourage your employees to do the same, watch out, because you might just start a ripple effect of happiness around the world. 😊

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.

The person I would love to have a private meeting with is Elon Musk. He is a gifted entrepreneur who I greatly respect for his many accomplishments, and who should continue to be applauded for his creative innovations. However, he is also a leader who seems to emphasize that working excessively on a regular basis is the ONLY way to change the world. I would love to have an intelligent discussion with him about why I disagree with that approach as the best or only way, discuss and understand why he feels that way, share with him some of the historical examples of certain inventors who changed the world with simple ideas without a ton of effort, and open his mind to the possibility that perhaps there is an even better and more fulfilling way than the grind, grind, grind model. That would sure make for an interesting conversation.

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 the opportunity to share my insight on how The Great Resignation will impact the future of work. I would like to invite your readers to stay connected with me through my website I also have a great free blog series with 8 different articles teaching business owners how to create a freedom lifestyle without sacrificing business growth. It’s called: The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Lifestyle Business.

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