Listening to your employees: We are working with a traditional financial services company that initially required its employees to be back in the office, full-time, in mid-2020. Since then, they listened to their employees, reevaluated their requirements, and now allow their employees to work from home 2 days a week, leading to greater productivity and less attrition.

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 Jasmine Silver.

Jasmine Silver is the Co-Founder and Director of Operations at FoundHer, a recruiting company focused on placing female talent and increasing diversity within companies. As a former matrimonial and commercial litigator at a New York City law firm, Jasmine brings legal expertise, business acumen and emotional intelligence to her role at Connectalent. Jasmine particularly enjoys helping women refine their resume and redefine their career goals, and working with corporate clients to increase diversity and inclusion on their teams.

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.

Becoming a lawyer and having children are my two most transformative life experiences. The education that I received in law school and what I learned as a divorce lawyer in New York City opened my eyes to so much: the history of our country’s legal system, the power structures that have been in place for so long, how laws are made and enforced, and how to recognize injustice and fight to remedy it.

Having children has helped me to see the world in new ways and motivated me to work to make this world a better place for them. (And of course, my kids are a lot of fun, too!) Also, my children connected me to my business partner, Runa, when they were in preschool, and we ended up starting a company together which has been a truly incredible experience.

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?

Fingers crossed that in 10–15 years, flexibility and diversity are the workplace norm rather than novel concepts that we are still trying to convince companies to implement. I am very encouraged by the conscious effort I see so many companies making now to ensure that these concepts are a reality in their workplace.

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

Flexibility and diversity! To me, these are the buzzwords of the future workplace, and striving for these goals is a way to “future-proof” your organization. Flexibility helps retain employees, especially in the current state where turnover is high, and increases diversity. Diversity in thought is crucial to an organization’s long term success.

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?

It has been interesting to observe the dynamic between employers, who have spent their entire careers commuting to an office each day and working 60–80 hour weeks, now employing a younger generation, who rely more heavily on technology for human connection and are more assertive and passionate about work/life balance and values.

Sometimes the push and pull between these two working models can create a gap between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect, and I think the solution to reconcile this gap has to be a compromise that incorporates flexibility and mindful corporate values. Certainly, there is no denying that these younger employees are setting the workplace tone that so many of us more seasoned professionals wish we had when we were working through the ranks.

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

It seems like for many industries and companies, the experiment actually worked! Many employees were more productive, efficient and happier without having to commute, and achieved more work/life balance. However, some felt isolated by not seeing coworkers in person, overwhelmed by not having a dedicated work space, and many parents struggled to take care of their home and children without support, while simultaneously working from home. While not perfect by any means, I think this “global experiment” proved that the workplace does NOT have to stay the same as it has for decades in order to be effective. I hope it continues to positively affect the future of work.

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?

This is an amazing question, and so important to mention, because the conversation is not always about one company making changes or one person finding a new job. It is about society making fundamental adjustments to support a future of work that works for everyone. I think one societal change that is finally gaining more traction since the pandemic is the recognition that women, in particular, need more support and equity at home and in society at large, in order to truly succeed equally in the workplace.

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

That people like you are asking these questions and helping to bring women into the conversation, push for change, and openly discuss diversity and flexibility issues in the workplace.

I’m also optimistic that technology will continue to help us broaden our horizons and improve the future of the workplace.

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?

Mental health days.

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?

Simply acknowledging that the workplace and company culture need to evolve is the first message leaders need to understand. Then, determining logistically how to evolve when it comes to hiring, retention, structure, policies, benefits, support, culture, etc., comes next. Clearly, any “evolution” will vary widely within industries and companies.

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

  1. Providing flexibility in some way, shape, or form:

There are many forms flexibility can take, and no matter how it is offered, employees almost always appreciate the effort. We have seen the following:

  • A large company that provides its employees a small, local satellite office so they do not have to waste 4 hours commuting each day.
  • A small company that is splitting a full time role into two part-time roles.
  • A law firm seeking a return-to-work mother and lawyer to help remotely, part-time.
  • A financial services company giving employees the option to structure their 8-hour work days in whatever way works for them.
  • Several companies offering its employees the option to work from home regularly.
  • And companies offering family-friendly benefits to their employees like subsidized child care or education.

2. Actively trying to recruit and foster a diverse workplace:

We are working with several companies who do not hesitate to acknowledge that they want and need more women and diversity within their workplace. And along with increased diversity comes a parallel need for employees to feel valued and a sense of belonging and inclusion.

In order to achieve increased diversity and inclusion, these companies are more willing and interested in encouraging internal mentorship and interviewing more “out of the box” candidates, such as mothers returning to the workforce after a career break or someone in a parallel industry who can clearly learn the job and do well but who doesn’t have the exact background or profile of everybody else in the company.

Companies know their teams are better off when they are more diverse, and frankly, many companies’ clients are also demanding this kind of change.

3. Listening to your employees:

We are working with a traditional financial services company that initially required its employees to be back in the office, full-time, in mid-2020. Since then, they listened to their employees, reevaluated their requirements, and now allow their employees to work from home 2 days a week, leading to greater productivity and less attrition.

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?

I had to look through the screenshots on my phone for this question because I love to save great quotes, too. One I’ve been liking recently is by Pam Haber, CEO of Citigroup: “Work-life balance is not really achievable. But I believe in this notion of ‘balance over time.’ Your career is a highway and it’s perfectly fine to move the car into a slow lane occasionally, because you can always move back into the fast lane.”

It has helped me view my career, even with its stops and starts and pivots (and perhaps more to come!), as a journey to be proud of and to continue building upon, rather than as a linear ladder that I have to climb. It has also helped me let go of any guilt I have felt in one “lane” or another, and redefine my notion of “balance.”

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.

Sallie Krawcheck, the co-founder of Ellevest, is admirable for many reasons: building a successful Wall Street career, disrupting the male-dominated financial advisory industry, and starting a business with the mission to put more money in the hands of women. Her company focuses heavily on diversity, with appropriately 75% of employees who identify as female and 50% ethnically diverse employees. Ellevest also fosters a 100% remote work environment. A sit-down with Sallie would be incredible, if only to hear all the stories from her career and how she rose to the top on many different occasions throughout.

And Beyonce, too! She’s a working mom, she’s strong, outspoken, unflappable, savvy and real, and somehow she manages to maintain a private life amidst her 25-year public career.

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.

Thank YOU!