Mission Driven Work– I believe that companies will continue to work in a mission-drive fashion, highlighting the need for effective communication to unify employees under the same vision. Great companies do not tie themselves to a product or service, they bond to an ideal.

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 Pivot Interiors.

Edward Woodill has been Creative Director at Pivot Interiors since 2017. Edward is the driving force behind the company’s design vision and acts as a link between Pivot and the goals, aesthetics and interests of their customers and design partners. Through consistent communication and involvement, Edward leads design-focused solutions through the products and services provided by Pivot.

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 attended Rollins College and majored in Organizational Communications for my Bachelor of Arts degree, then attended the Pratt Institute in New York City to get my Master’s of Science Degree in Interior Design. Both of these educational experiences shaped me professionally. I learned to listen at Rollins College. Organizational Communication has a focus on listening more and speaking less to understand those with whom you are interacting. In the frequently male-dominated design industry, this has given me the background to set a precedent to be a good listener to communicate effectively. Pratt Institute was more regimented and taught me to push myself.

The other experience that has had a profound impact on my life, like many others, has been the pandemic. This has been a learning experience for me as an extrovert who has spent the majority of their career traveling, in contact with peers, clients or industry partners, or speaking in-person to the public. It was an adjustment to move toward the era of remote, solitary work that required communicating over a zoom call, when I was much more accustomed to (and enjoyed) being in the physical presence of other people. This pushed me to be more technologically informed and made me realize that future leaders are those who can communicate across all channels, are adaptable and able to connect and relate to people over social and digital media.

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?

One aspect of work that I do not see changing is goal-based mission or vision driven companies, whether it is a profit-driven company focused on creating a specific deliverable, or a nonprofit focused on serving a certain vision. The fact that companies will always have a need to accomplish these goals will not change. What will change is the expectation of how teams will accomplish these goals for the desired output. Hybrid and remote or flexible work is inevitably here to stay, and we are seeing a shift from the five day to potentially even a four day workweek with non-standard hours. With this change, companies will need to double down on efforts to clearly communicate their goals and engage and unify their workforce.

We are also seeing a shift toward spaces that are designed to support social and community functions, with amenities for families and areas that cater toward neurodiversity. This will continue to evolve as the traditional office and the traditional schedule shifts to flexible, hybrid work.

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

It is vital for employers to embrace flexibility and stay informed about both trends in the marketplace and the needs of their employees. Adaptability is key– we have seen what can happen with the pandemic and corporations must be nimble to embrace and grow with changes. To that end, architecture and design is no longer static. Economic, environmental, social and political conflicts have become our new expectation, and designs need to take these factors into consideration.

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 largest gaps I see are large-scale communication misfires surrounding what needs to be accomplished and what the workforce is capable of. I would advise companies to make sure their human resources can meet their business plans.

The companies that are currently succeeding are those that work alongside their employees to address issues and ensure individuals have the resources to produce results. I can’t stress enough that constant communication is important to make sure that your workforce is in support of your mission and vision. Companies that leverage data and employee-driven information will be more successful in creating a stable work environment that responds to the needs of their workforce, and the industry.

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

I believe that hybrid work is here to stay. Things have been moving in this direction for some time, but the pandemic accelerated this change further and faster. I also believe that leadership c-suites will lean out over the coming years, and this change may help companies focus their mission and communication efforts.

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?

The pandemic shaped, first and foremost, freedom from going to the office. Unfortunately this has also had impacts on the mental health of employees, effectiveness of training programs and corporate culture-especially burnout. We need to find a better way to blend both the opportunities and challenges of hybrid work — offering counseling and resources, intentional meetings and events to connect employees and strengthen social bonds. Many of the negative impacts are systemic to working solely remote from home. In many ways, the isolation of remote work has created habits that can only be changed through interpersonal connection — such as narrowed viewpoints or difficulty empathizing with other viewpoints from behind a computer screen. In order to support a hybrid model from everyone, people need to be connected. Perhaps this will be an opportunity for our society to adapt to new social networks that allow for more opportunity to connect across distance.

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

If we can move past our current challenges, we have the opportunity to create a better quality of life for everyone. This will mean relying on experts in the field. Our role in this, more than just being designers, is to be surveyors and to use the research of sociologists and environmental psychologists to create a better hybrid workplace with less disconnect. Perhaps the pendulum will fall back toward a time where authentic social connection is sought out in the workplace. Only time will tell.

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?

We need to continue to focus on finding the best ways to bring “all people” together. Offering counseling resources is helpful in this time, as well as opportunities to connect such as in-person meetings. There is a large social shift toward empathy and compassion to help with burnout and stress, which will hopefully lead the creation of new social constructs for those entering the workforce in this time.

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

Mission Driven Work– I believe that companies will continue to work in a mission-drive fashion, highlighting the need for effective communication to unify employees under the same vision. Great companies do not tie themselves to a product or service, they bond to an ideal.

Universal Design and Diversity in the Workplace — When we consider a variety of different perspectives, we increase innovation and productivity. It is vital for organizations to support inclusivity in hiring, how they operate, and in our case, how we design for clients.

Sustainability at the Forefront-We must continue to make sustainability a priority when we design office space. This can take many forms — at our client Honey’s Santa Barbara office, our team worked with the architect to select new furniture and reuse some of the client’s existing pieces to minimize waste. Another project where we focused on sustainability was with Beautycounter, whose workspace features panels made from recycled plastic bottles, and products sourced from environmentally and socially-conscious manufacturers (including Herman Miller).

Integrated Technology — Technology is constantly adapting and changing, and this is more important than ever now that we are in a position to connect remote and in-person employees. Technology needs to be fully integrated within our spaces-things such as AI, ML, automation, and ensuring we utilize the latest software and hardware.

Wellness Within Design–Intentional design that puts wellness at the forefront and can contribute to a team’s performance and overall happiness. Factors such as light, noise, color, ventilation, incorporation of biophilia, and neurodiverse layouts can all have major impacts on the well-being of your team.

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?

“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.” –Ralf Speth

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 love a good roundtable discussion with passion. So I would opt to have a four person contrarian conversation over a dinner, WITH WINE! Included would be:

Simon Sinek — Author of “Start with Why” and opinion leader of notorious nice leaders and employee empowerment.

Elon Musk — Earlier this year, he stated, “Tesla would not be able to “create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth” by “phoning it in.” It is an interesting statement in the current world we live and is in opposition to most workplace experts.

Arianna Huffington — Anyone who was such a workaholic that she passes out at her desk and breaks her jaw, to then move forward with the realization that we are better when we are not exhausted, gets a seat at the table. That kind of life-changing experience gives insight to a better way to move forward, and she has done it.

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?

You can always find Pivot posting industry research and insights on our website news section or on LinkedIn. Readers are welcome to connect and follow me on LinkedIn as well, as I often share these resources there.

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