Something that I think is apparent now and will only grow in the future is the divide between the huge corporations that operate purely for greed, and B Corps and other purpose-driven companies that are increasingly at the forefront of consumer minds when shopping.
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 George Amodio.
George Amodio is a business writer for DGW Branded. He specialises in mission-first businesses that are measured by purpose as well as profit.
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?
Travel is what’s shaped me the most. While I had experienced new cultures before, it was a solo adventure to Italy that had the first profound impact on my character. I felt like a new person from when I began having overcome so many challenges and taken on some great responsibilities.
This experience gave me the confidence and motivation to continue traveling and thus a couple of years later I decided to make the big decision and move to Vietnam. The primary reason was to discover a new culture while teaching English to support my adventures. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to truly feel connected to the people and culture in a way a conventional vacation never could. Another huge reason why this trip altered my life was because it’s where I met my friend, Ryan. He helped make my current career possible so the time I spent there was incredibly rewarding on both a personal and professional level.
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?
In this timeframe, I don’t think there’s going to be a revolutionary transformation of some of the principles of work that have shaped the world since the industrial revolution. I believe the concept of employees selling their labor in exchange for money will continue. I disagree with many experts who believe that the physical office will be completely redundant. I still think there will be the need to commute to a physical workspace for at least half of a business’s employees. It might even be more of a necessity than today with specialized tools needed for a more technologically advanced society.
While the office environment will still be around in the next decade that doesn’t mean we’ll be using the same tools as we do today. The full integration of digital and physical reality will almost certainly be a fixture of the office in the next decade. Through AR advances, the work project will be visualized in front of us, as well as a whole digital reality with most of the work we do away from laptops as we map out what we want to see in the space around us.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Constantly evolve the structure of your business to meet the needs of the day. Don’t be dogmatic with trying to keep existing structures in place because that’s been your norm for decades. We can look at the past with how BlackBerry failed to evolve its smartphone design after the launch of the iPhone and was consequently irrelevant in just a few years. We can observe this in the present day, too. Not necessarily in a tech product but how companies are dealing with remote work. Those that are forcing employees back into the office without genuine need I think will find the business associated with archaic practices and become a place to avoid for a lot of potential employees.
On a different note, I think one thing to be certain of in the future is that technology is going to become more powerful, more quickly, than ever before. It’s imperative that businesses provide the necessary tools and training to keep up with the latest technology or else be left behind.
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 it’s going to be money or career-related like we’ve seen in the past. Instead, the fulfillment of work and the ethical nature of the business are going to be questioned, with amoral practices receiving more attention and less sympathy from its workers. Companies that operate purely for greed won’t be tolerated. This is a trend that’s already existing today with The Great Resignation seeing employees at all levels and every industry quit their job. Moreover, consumers becoming more conscious of what they buy than ever before. The friction between the motives of the corporation and that of its workers and its customers is going to accelerate in the years to come.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
Being a permanent remote employee makes this topic something that’s personal to me. As I mentioned earlier I think that the world of 2032 will still have a need for a physical workspace for many employees. This will be due to the technological tools needed will be more powerful and therefore less accessible to remote workers. On top of this, there’s a strong probability that an office will still be a place many workers will want to go to — collaborating with members of their team, enjoying the office environment, and so on. How it will influence the future is that the ‘hybrid’ nature of work will be the norm for the majority of workers. Some days an employee will be at the office, other days a café is preferred. I also think the 9–5 concept will be made redundant with employees given more freedom to choose the hours and the days that best suit their lifestyle.
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?
Strictly relating to the pandemic, it’s absolutely crucial that workers have to be given protection and care regardless of what level of the workforce they operate. How less tragic the pandemic would have been if everyone had been granted sick pay and thus not feel required to go to work even if having COVID symptoms. We know (and I hope we understand) that how we treat the poorest and most disadvantaged can in turn affect us.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
Maybe I’m cheating but I’m going to say two ideas that equally give me optimism for the future of work. The first is that the progression of technology will ease the burden of workers and allow tasks to be completed more efficiently. I hope that this allows people to have more freedom from work, with perhaps working 20–30 hours the new normal rather than 40–50.
Another reason why I believe that the future is bright is that each passing generation is becoming more ethically aware of the climate, corporate greed, and the need to preserve local cultures. I believe the future of capitalism rests on whether we consumers will shape a more cooperative world through supporting smaller businesses that are investing in the planet, their workers, and sustainable products, rather than a corporate behemoth that’s fixated only on profits.
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?
Companies have to see their workers as human rather than another expandable resource. There are many things that businesses now have the power to do to help strengthen the mental health of their wellbeing. Offices themselves should be redesigned to maximize the well-being of those who work in them. A few examples include quiet places for employees to relax outside of the main office, the use of plants to create a calm environment, as well as a canteen that serves fresh, healthy meals that provide employees with what they need to be healthy; both mentally and physically. Another strategy would be to have free therapy help for those who ask for it and a more progressive consideration towards sick days and holiday days to be both extended and mandatory.
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?
Go back a hundred years and a factory or warehouse could very well consider humans like machines and get away with it. Given one task to do a thousand times a day, it’s easy to consider workers as little more than another cog in the industrial machine. Now we’re seeing automation take over these repetitive tasks, employees are more frequently geared towards the more creative, and therefore human, side of things. It’s up to businesses to not be left in the dark ages, and care for their employees as people and not machines if they want to see their business remain relevant in the future.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- A Four-Day Work Week. An area I’m passionate about is how companies can use progressive policies that appear to be purely employee-beneficial (for example, comprehensive healthcare) but actually have great practical benefits for the business. Something that really intrigues me is the implementation of a four-day workweek. While some business owners may fear that this is solely focused on employees having more time off, it’s much more multi-faceted. Microsoft trialed a four-day working week and saw a 40% increase in productivity, according to Business Insider. With most employees preferring a shorter workweek, and with results proving it can be an advantage for businesses as well, it’s an exciting trend to track for sure.
- I’ve mentioned this a little bit earlier but I think how automation affects work, for better or for worse, is something that we should all be vigilant about. I read a fascinating nonfiction book not long ago. ‘Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work’, is a great tool to understand how technology can liberate us from a lot of the work we do to truly live life yet also warn us that this same technology could be the ruination of us all if we are not outraged with what corporations and governments may do if this technology is used for evil.
- A big trend that most have us have experienced is working from home. While I mentioned earlier that I don’t think the traditional office workplace will disappear I’m curious as to how employees will spend their work time as well as how forceful businesses can be in demanding a return to the office even for those who are in jobs where they can fully operate while being remote. Fast Company posted a great article on this that I highly recommend. ‘Why forcing employees back to the office is a losing strategy’ gave a great explanation as to why the move could tether the relationship between those companies that insist on returning to the workplace and their employees.
- Another trend we’re seeing a lot of is extra staff perks to entice new employees or to keep top talent at that company. It’s not so easy now for companies to ‘hire and fire’ with greater emphasis on training and providing the tools that are needed for employees to develop and stay at the company. For instance, my own company DGW Branded has a great scheme that gives everyone a $500 travel allowance that grants employees the opportunity to see far-off family, experience new cultures, or simply have some downtime away from the office. I can’t wait to see where this trend leads us and the power employees are regaining from their companies.
- Something that I think is apparent now and will only grow in the future is the divide between the huge corporations that operate purely for greed, and B Corps and other purpose-driven companies that are increasingly at the forefront of consumer minds when shopping.
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?
“Without change, there can be no progress.” This is a pretty simple quote but it’s one that has stuck with me since first reading it in a high-school English class. It’s so pertinent to me as a person; I’m constantly trying to adapt, try new things, and develop. It reminds me that taking a leap into the unknown is what’s needed to avoid complacency and to take risks I otherwise wouldn’t have dreamt of.
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 would choose Garry Kasparov. I am a keen chess player and so naturally also a great fan of Kasparov who was the chess world champion for fifteen years. While the game is something I’m sure we’d discuss in conversation during our lunch together, it’s Kasparov’s other interests which would be why I’d choose him. His expertise in computing and the role they can play for the betterment of humanity is something that interests me greatly. I’m hoping between discussing the role of AI and his political expertise, we’ll have time for a game of chess between [lunch] courses… I’m sure it wouldn’t take long!
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’m the Content Creator at DGW Branded. This is an amazing company that goes beyond making a profit. Not only is it a B Corp, it invests heavily in helping those from the foster care system with skills, training, and jobs, that will help them avoid the horrific cycle of trauma that plagues former foster kids into adulthood. I write content to help small businesses find innovative ways of marketing their products. I also write more speculative articles on the future of business and what we as consumers can do to shape the future we want to see.
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.