Hybrid working: Flexible and hybrid working is here to stay. It may not work in all organizations and all markets, but it is proving to be a very viable choice when trying to recruit a broader, more diverse set of talent.

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 Jody Robie Of Talent Works.

As Senior Vice President of North America for disruptive recruitment provider Talent Works, Jody’s 20 year + career has ranged from working with large organizations such as including Hearst TV and Fox Networks, as well as small non-profits. At Talent Works, Jody is dedicated to changing the recruitment conversation, challenging conventional thinking and propelling organizations to new heights in the race to deliver the best talent. Jody specialises in Employer Branding, Diversity and Inclusion, Video, Sales, EVP and Advertising. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts. Having a daughter born with special needs, she is passionate about inclusion and developing new opportunities to train and involve everyone. Jody is a noted public speaker in the Global Talent Acquisition/Employment branding space.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. 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?

These last 24 months have redefined the world of work — globally. The trends that were starting to emerge in certain industries or start-ups suddenly skipped over to large corporations and even traditional government offices. With that said, I don’t believe work as we know it will go back to life pre-2020.

All businesses will need to be digital and technologically proficient to survive. Remote workers, cloud-based systems will replace some of today’s infrastructure. Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence and other digital skills will change the roles we are doing, as well as the way we do business. Innovations such as the commercialization of autonomous driving vehicles will bring in new industries and checks and balances to success.

Roles will be different and more complex. As we see Generation X reaching retirement age, they likely won’t be retiring as early as they had envisioned. This generation may be supporting older parents and kids in college while still recovering from employment losses and savings losses during the pandemic.

Hybrid and remote working is here to stay and in 2032 — employees will be hired with the expectation that they will not have a defined desk or office. Education, Healthcare, Biopharma/Tech will need to have in-person staff but the expectation that employees will work a traditional 8–6 in an office won’t be met.

DEI success will become more of the norm than the exception. The next generation of leaders won’t accept a lack of women or ethnic diversity in leadership positions.

Due to the relaxed “be seen” rules, you will see more diversity in the workforce. Parents of young children and/or ageing parents who traditionally had to step off the corporate ladder for some time can stay on — thanks to Zoom and an acknowledgement of work/life balance.

The workplace cultures many of us experienced in our early 20s will not be the same. When you physically spent 40–60 hours a week working with the same people, these first co-workers were your family. I recently went to the retirement party of one of my favorite bosses when I worked in television. There were people there I hadn’t seen in more than a decade, but it was like we had all seen each other last week. We watched each other get engaged, get married and divorced. Some had babies, lost parents and shared other life experiences. Working in a hybrid-remote first environment has many benefits, but I predict those life-long relationships from those early jobs will not exist in the same way in the future.

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

The best advice I can give to employers is to be aware. Know your employer brand, and understand why people stay and why they leave. You mustn’t be afraid to change and adjust your people strategy as you do your business strategy. Regardless of the industry, talent is a top priority today. Find the right people, and you can grow and scale your business. Employees of all experience levels and industries are looking for meaningful work. If you can authentically tell that story, it will help bring the right talent to you.

On the flip side, if you have a recruitment or retention issue, find out why quickly. Today it goes beyond who is paying the most money or offering the best benefits. You need to be clear on your policy regarding Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. You need to have a culture of transparency, to bring your employees along on the ride. You need to share your vision and listen to your teams, not just your inner circle of board members and senior leaders.

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?

Amazon recently ran a television campaign spelling out the options for employees — work part-time, tuition reimbursement, wage increases and more. It is a candidate’s market and there are legitimately many more skilled openings than qualified candidates.

Most employers can not meet the salary demands of employees. Candidates can wait and see who will bid or pay the most. However, there is going to be an adjustment over the next 12–18 months as employers re-evaluate the talent they brought in during this “hiring crisis.” Candidates may have negotiated a bigger salary or position jump, but if they are not qualified to deliver employers are going to start to reset. We’ve seen some adjustments coming over the last few months and I suspect that will continue as organizations struggle to meet their forecasts without the right calibre of talent.

Employers need to have a clear path for candidates and current employees. They need to share their vision, the WIFM — What‘s in it for me — narrative to help candidates select the right organization beyond just the best paycheck. What is the culture? How are employees recognized? How can someone make a difference and still do their work?

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

Everyone needs to be tech-savvy. Gone are the days when tenured employees got a free pass from using TEAMS or Zoom or Sharepoint. There is a technology reskilling that will continue and this will define how all businesses compete in the future.

Employers will need to trust that employees can work in a different way. Maybe they are not in an office every day. Maybe they are never in an office. Maybe they work a hybrid or core hours schedule. The challenge will be growing and developing talent new to your organization or just new to working. Without the impromptu water cooler conversations managers are going to need to be more focused and present to make time for their teams.

From a recruitment standpoint, this new working from home phenomenon has allowed businesses to seek out the best candidates — not just the best candidates willing to commute. This has helped with diversity in candidates and also the chance to target skill sets not just known competitors.

When the affordable care act allowed individuals to purchase health insurance without needing to be traditional employees, the shift to non-traditional careers began. Consulting and working freelance can be a desirable path, especially if the US healthcare costs are not vastly different.

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

This period of disruption has widened the lens for future work. The limitations that we used to have because people had to live close to their offices are now gone, and the scope for talent acquisition is much wider now. You hire someone who lives in downtown New York, but you can also hire the person who prefers to live the ski lifestyle in Colorado. There’s an acceptance that people can be in other parts of the world and still work with sophisticated urban headquarters.

I also feel that because of that Great Resignation, and because of the restructuring that it caused, companies have had to stop and look at their future business plans. As we become more and more digitized, we’re going to need junior talent to come in and fill the skill gaps. Organizations that may have never hired new grads may start to look to this junior talent to diversify their workforce skillset.

My biggest source of optimism is that businesses are now realizing that to be truly successful, you’ve got to pursue diversity in your workforce. If everyone comes from the same college and has the same work experience, they’ll make for a team that doesn’t think outside the box and one that may not offer creative solutions to business problems. The US is turning into a minority-majority, and businesses need to reflect this in order to ensure they have a representative perspective. It’s hugely positive because it means that people who may not have been considered for roles now have the opportunity.

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?

It’s becoming more acceptable to take mental health breaks. Companies have acknowledged the stresses of the pandemic, and they are showing more willingness to be flexible. I’m also seeing more companies putting in a conscious effort into managing people’s time better: booking 45-minute meetings instead of an hour, and being more accepting of non-traditional schedules.

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?

The world of work is very different now than it was two years ago, or even last year. We’re in a candidate-driven market, particularly in tech recruitment. Candidates are in high demand and the ability to change jobs yearly (or more frequently) is becoming acceptable. Some are making the moves for money but many are also considering more meaningful work now that they have had the time to consider their options.

What you did last year isn’t likely going to cut it this year when it comes to talent acquisition and retention. Companies need to rethink the infrastructure they’ve got in place to bring the right candidates in.

Companies also need to be more agile when it comes to navigating today’s employment landscape. A three-year plan now needs to be a 12-month plan, and you can’t be beholden to a plan that may not be aligned with the way the market is heading.

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

1. DEI: DEI is here to stay. We’re seeing a lot of companies hiring Chief Diversity Officers, supporting the fact that DEI has made the transition from being a trend to a commitment. Introducing DEI expertise to an organization at the leadership level gives employees a voice and leads to real change.

2. Outsourcing: Outsourcing is not a bad word anymore. It’s a necessity. Ten to 15 years ago, companies outsourced benefits, but now we’re seeing a trend towards the outsourcing of employer branding and recruiting. Companies want to stay lean and mean, and outsourcing is proving to be a flexible, efficient and effective way to address recruitment and acquisition, without breaking the backs of HR. Why add the pressure and costs of recruiting your own recruiters and creative and digital talent teams when you can have the experts at your fingertips … quicker and for a better value.

3. Hybrid working: Flexible and hybrid working is here to stay. It may not work in all organizations and all markets, but it is proving to be a very viable choice when trying to recruit a broader, more diverse set of talent.

4. Gender diversity still has a way to go: Talent Works surveyed 400 women in technology on their experiences on recruitment and employment across the Eastern Seaboard in February 2022 and found that the majority of women in technology have experienced toxic work environments, with 21% experiencing it frequently. Fixing the gender pay gap topped the list of what women feel is needed to feel supported in tech (63%).

5. In the future of work, we’ll need new and different types of roles in order to be competitive and survive. Organizations have more specific people strategies now, as well as sustainability strategies. Human resources are becoming a more strategic part of the business, and companies are recognizing the new skill set it takes to drive this momentum.

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 always come back to the Albert Einstein quote ‘in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.’ It seems particularly relevant today, as we navigate the pandemic. Covid-19 has been horrendous, but if I look on the bright side, our business has had continued success, and I am tremendously grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend with my family. Having travelled for so many years, it’s been precious getting to spend so much time with my husband and two teenage daughters.

There are different ways of dealing with really horrible, unplanned situations, and this has been a dark time for many people. But along the way, people have learned a lot about themselves and their organizations. I think this is much of what led to the Great Resignation: while working from home, people have realized many things, and they’ve questioned whether they are truly happy doing what they are doing. It reminds me of another quote from Katherine Hepburn: ”if you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” I feel like that is how people are living now.

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.

For me, it’s always Oprah. Growing up, she had so many strikes against her, and she reinvented herself and has continued to use her celebrity in so many meaningful ways as a smart, kind and generous person.

I’d also love to meet Elizabeth Spaulding, the CEO of Stitch Fix (a fashion-based subscription service). Katrina Lake founded Stitch Fix and grew it to a $1.7 billion dollar business, but then Covid happened and the business really had to pivot. Elizabeth Spaulding really grew the business as an analytics company, and they have used data so intelligently that they’ve really moved the needle of fashion-based subscriptions.

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