I know countless companies that have found it hard to maintain the magic of office culture in a remote world. Especially with employee onboarding, it is typically much easier to train an employee in-person where they can meet colleagues face-to-face, and learn by osmosis of hearing other departments more. I think hybrid models will become more of the trend and for us it’s been the best way to run our company — keeping collaboration, relationship-building, and high-energy flowing!

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 Janet Casey, President and Founder of Marketing Doctor, Inc.

Janet Casey launched Marketing Doctor in 2003 and has grown it into a multi-million dollar agency specializing in global media planning and media buying. A 2021 Adweek 35 Women Trailblazers USA, Janet brings considerable expertise in advertising and marketing strategy to the table alongside a team of traditional and digital media experts. As President and Founder of Marketing Doctor, she is proud to lead a cutting-edge agency recognized as an Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Company in America, 3 years running.

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.

A speaker at a Women Presidents Organization (WPO) event shared a powerful anecdote about her career trajectory as a Latinx woman in business. She started in property management working for an absentee male business owner. Leveraging her intelligence, drive, and ambition, she ended up founding her own property management company and winning the large government contract formerly held by him.

Listening to her story, I had both a personal and professional awakening. I realized that there is power in potential. She inspired me to grow my business beyond our local area of Western Massachusetts. I suddenly had a new, more-expansive vision which rang true. Without her story, I don’t know when or how I would have discovered my own ambitious path forward.

Now, Marketing Doctor runs national and global marketing campaigns across industries, including government, ecommerce, healthcare, and more. Listening and learning from other WPO members continues to revolutionize my perspective on growth. It continues to be my primary source of vision for my own path forward.

When I started Marketing Doctor, the landscape was not particularly friendly to women who felt passionately about pursuing a career and motherhood. I vividly remember pumping breast milk on the New Jersey Turnpike, racing home from a client meeting to put a toddler to bed on time, truck drivers honking and leering at me. I often joke about long trips and client meetings with my twins on each arm and a phone pressed to my ear. Believe me when I tell you, that’s not much of an exaggeration.

It was critical for me to not only create a work environment that offered the time and and space I needed to be the kind of mother I want to be, but that I could offer that to others. What my experience as a working mother showed me was that the roadblocks I faced were not inescapable — more organizational support could have helped me clear those hurdles earlier. It inspired me to be the boss who could offer more the support and flexibility I wish I had.

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 remote/hybrid work is here to stay. Let’s be real — Humans have needed flexible workplaces and hours since the beginning of time! It’s no secret that workplace flexibility and adaptability are non-negotiables for so many, especially parents. Workplaces must prioritize the wellbeing of their employees in order to retain them. We need to pay attention to what people care about, what drives them, and how we can help them thrive both personally and professionally.

For what will change, I really believe we will see stronger, more diverse leadership teams calling the shots. The seats at the table must have better paths into them and more opportunities across the board, especially for those who have faced glass ceilings. I believe this will continue to improve over the years ahead and I really look forward to it.

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

Pay attention to your employee journey even more than your customer journey. People are our greatest assets, so invest in them! Companies that grow the fastest and most sustainably are companies that support their employees as whole human beings and nurture that company-wide growth mindset. The best way to future-proof your organization is to invest time, energy, and resources into employees’ personal and professional growth. Get innovative with employee perks! For example, we hold “Hopes and Dreams” Workshops about areas of personal development that employees want to learn more about, like First-time Home Buying, Improving Your Credit Score, Personal Wellness, and so much more.

Beyond these workshops, we future-proof our company with perks to make life easier for our employees: a private room for telehealth or therapy sessions, premium health care benefits and company-wide mental health days.

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?

One of the biggest gaps is that employees desire less work, more personal time, while employers still have to watch the bottom line. There’s been a lot of press lately about “the 4-day workweek.” If you have less working hours per employee, you need to hire more which drives your costs up. This is still a new gap we’re navigating, and I’d encourage employers to listen to these trends, listen to their employees, and be open to fundamental shifts in what you traditionally consider “a work week.” I’m following this area closely. Other countries do it very successfully and there’s a lot we can learn from them. (Honestly, we can’t wait and as soon as some of our competitors, who we price and bid against, and peers consider it, we will, too!)

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

Marketing Doctor pivoted to working from home immediately and successfully. It ultimately revealed huge benefits for our team’s personal flexibility needs as well as our overall productivity. We learned that our team loved having a hybrid model and made Remote Fridays a permanent part of our schedule. Our departments have Focus Days from home now, too, and the work that’s come from those has been world-class.

I truly believe remote work will bridge the gaps across the miles forever. There’s no need to hop on planes or drive for hours to attend every meeting or conference anymore. It’s helped give back a better work-life balance and there’s never a downside to that!

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?

A future of work that works for everyone must keep the focus on increased support for health-compromised people in the workplace. We have a newfound appreciation for how interconnected we all are and how sickness can affect our communities in many ways. Increased attention to office cleaning, masking when sick, offering flexibility to work from home, and more. It’s so important. I don’t think we’ll ever look at it as “just cold and flu season” again.

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

I am so optimistic about all of the talent and forward-thought of the next generation! New approaches, unlimited potential, and the drive to change the world. The newest generations in the workplace are less tolerant of threats to our climate, families, and human beings and demand that change for the better happens sooner rather than later.

There’s more pressure than ever on making this a kinder, fairer world. It gives me hope that we’ll finally see more women and people of color have seats at the table and even more leadership opportunities.

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?

Employers must offer health insurance that covers mental health services and expenses outside of just typical medical care, such as gym memberships. Solutions are out there! It’s up to leadership teams to seek them and offer them.

As part of our people-first mentality, Marketing Doctor also offers team-wide Mental Health Days. We adamantly believe that mental health is just as important as physical health. We always advocate for people to take the time they need to recharge and reset. It’s really about supporting the whole human, not considering them as employees only.

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?

These headlines demonstrate the need to deeply understand what employees value and let your employees know you deeply value them. I firmly believe that our people are our best asset! Every Monday, we start the day with team shout-outs, recognizing and celebrating those who did something special or above-and-beyond, in front of the whole company. It’s such an easy thing to do and it leads to meaningful, long-lasting impact. We all start the week energized and full of appreciation for each other!

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

1. Four-Day Work Weeks.

The world is recognizing work-life balance more and more and I’m monitoring the trend of the four-day work week. In some countries, the early results are promising for both productivity and happiness. I imagine it will catch on in the US more in the coming years. As we learn more, it’s important that we continue to provide flexibility: flex time, hybrid schedules, and additional perks that consider our team members as humans, not just employees.

2. Team-Wide Emotional Intelligence Workshops.

Our employees are not robots. We must consider their emotional needs and nuances to foster a welcoming, positive workplace. Feeling the weight of the world on so many of our shoulders prompted Marketing Doctor to prioritize EQ even more. I hope and expect that this will be a societal priority going forward. We have weekly team-wide EQ Trainings (30 minutes each), which lead to thoughtful discussions and deepen the relationship dynamics across the agency. When we communicate from a place of compassion it is much easier to understand one another and support each other–and work together!

3. Hybrid Workforce and Strong Company Culture.

I know countless companies that have found it hard to maintain the magic of office culture in a remote world. Especially with employee onboarding, it is typically much easier to train an employee in-person where they can meet colleagues face-to-face, and learn by osmosis of hearing other departments more. I think hybrid models will become more of the trend and for us it’s been the best way to run our company — keeping collaboration, relationship-building, and high-energy flowing!

4. Metaverse.

The Metaverse is already affecting how some companies are advertising. As a media planning and media buying agency, I’m excited to track how this affects us moving into the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up hosting and attending meetings inside the Metaverse before long!

5. Specific Mental Health Perks for Employees.

I must emphasize how important it is to provide perks that consider the whole human–perks that are good for the mind, body, and soul. As an agency born from a realization that so many workplaces are unfriendly to mothers and caregivers, this has been and will always be a priority for Marketing Doctor. Examples of our mental health perks include: Mental Health Days, strong health insurance coverage that includes top-notch mental health resources above and beyond most insurance plans, a private room for telehealth or therapy appointments, and so much more.

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?

There’s a Michelle Obama quote that really resonated with me. She stated, “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: “They are not that smart.”

This eye-opening quote really rang true to me especially in the historically male-dominated advertising industry, and any imposter syndrome I may have had went right out the window. This quote has always been a reminder to shake up the status quo, to never be intimidated by it, and to build something better!

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.

Oprah Winfrey! She has always inspired me. I admire her story, her talent and her ability to pivot and succeed in business. She immediately owned her own production company after she realized the direction of her show was not aligning with her own vision. That is so admirable! She has such an entrepreneurial spirit and is a complete corporate visionary. Knowing what I know now, running a business, I don’t know how Oprah scaled so quickly owning her own production company while still thoughtfully hosting her show. I would ask her about how she’s been able to simultaneously build a brand for herself from scratch, change so many people’s lives, and lead a life of adventure.

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?

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