Public Sharing of Key Impact Indicators. Companies will work together within and across industries to standardize how they define and measure impact. We will see the emergence of industry accepted key impact indicators that describe a company’s impact on employee lives, consumer lives, and society at large. Just like the UN has sustainable development goals, we’ll see companies publicly sharing how they’re impacting lives. Social enterprise will become the framework for businesses around the world, setting the stage for future generations of talent to build their careers around their aspirations for impact.
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 Julia Armet.
Julia Armet is the Founder & CEO of Higher Playbook, a people and culture consultancy on a mission to rehumanize our work. With a professional trajectory that spans industries, including media, technology, coaching and leadership consulting, Julia believes meaningful professional relationships are the source of business sustainability. Her philosophical and innovative approach to learning and development is inspiring the next generation of visionary leaders, who are collectively driving the shift to purposeful work.
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.
My educational experience at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study definitely had a major impact on me. With freedom to choose my classes and create my own concentration, I developed a true entrepreneurial spirit and cultivated an interdisciplinary perspective. I built a real confidence in my decision-making by learning through a lot of experimentation. You can see this today in how I approach my business endeavors. I see myself as the architect of my career and have purposefully crafted my professional identity.
More recently, the pandemic lockdown significantly influenced my vision for the future. I did some deep identity work that put my entire life into new perspective. I got really honest about my personal and professional desires. All the inner work gave way to a total business renovation. I dedicated time and space to remodel Higher Playbook to reflect my values, principles, and identity. The business renovation inspired the creation of the Interconnected Workplace™ framework, which is the foundation for much of my thought leadership on the future of work.
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?
We are going to see a collective maturation in the character of our workforce. People have been opening the door to purposeful work for the better half of a decade now. Naturally, the next chapter is about becoming more purposeful. Companies will continue to be mission-driven, impact-driven, and profit-driven. There will be less lip-service to these concepts and more embodiment. Subsequently, companies and their people will be more aligned in who they are and the work they do. Employers and employees will work together to live and breathe their missions in their everyday workplace environments.
The workforce at large will be globally dispersed with fewer walls and ceilings. Professionals will have greater autonomy and independence. They will display a deeper sense of commitment to their work and personal empowerment in their career paths. Every individual will have their personal mission, vision, and purpose that guides them in their career trajectory. I foresee higher levels of visibility and sharing within companies. People will know their colleagues and leaders on a more personal level, and even have opportunities to shadow and observe one another.
Additionally, the geographic shift to remote work will give way to new expectations for how we show up and share with our external networks. There will be an expectation of transparency that fosters a sense of interconnectivity amongst people, companies and industries. Our external relationships will be stronger and more unified because the workforce sees their loyalty to their cause more than their company. Trust will be based on a shared intention of global progress. The public sharing of what is now perceived as private information will be commonplace. Companies will lean into their industry networks more to advance collective causes.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Two tips of advice: Lock into your values and principles. Loosen up your attachment to outcomes.
Future-proofing is in itself an illusion because it implies a sense of certainty over life itself. We’ve all been humbled by the iceberg of 2020. We saw great businesses and leaders confront their fallibility. Millions of people lost their lives. Millions of people lost their jobs. The business world suffered incredible loss. Around the world, the universal lessons were very evident. We are all connected by our shared humanity. Our lives impact one another. How we work for humanity’s survival takes precedence.
Human life is what truly matters, so the objective shifts to how employers care for humanity. Quality of human life at work is a reflection of how well employers embody their values and principles, without which an organization systemically combusts. It’s only natural that every organization will experience the highs and lows of an economy, as professionals will experience the highs and lows of life. With that understood, those employers who consistently embody their values and principles will better ensure their company survival in the future.
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?
Great segue. The biggest gap I foresee is the embodiment gap: the difference between what employers say in their employee value propositions and what employees expect their employers to model in their everyday workplace experiences. Employees will have a higher standard for the role leadership has in their work lives. Not only will they want to work for companies who are contributing to the world in meaningful ways, they will specifically want to work with leaders who energize them on a daily basis. They will see the role of leader as facilitator: helping them to embody their part in the company mission.
To reconcile the embodiment gap, employers will want to focus on mastering their facilitation skills and leadership style. While employers can promise impactful missions and offer opportunities to do meaningful work, their facilitation of learning and development will be seen in their daily practice. Leaders tomorrow must see themselves as workplace facilitators and create intentional workspaces, where every human at work can deepen their connection to the mission, vision, and purpose.
Leaders will want to practically approach the objective of employee fulfillment. In the Interconnected Workplace™ cultural model, I propose principles that every leader can practice: show up with your team and share consistently; empower employees to discover their unique part within your company; offer learning opportunities for employees to master their skills; create projects where individuals can express their innovative ideas; cultivate a culture of contribution, where employees have shared experiences to impact communities. Practice is how real connections are built between leaders and peers, within the company and society at large. This sense of interconnectivity, being a part of something greater than yourself, is what leads to higher levels of employee fulfillment.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
There is a whole conversation happening now about workplace experience. It’s time to get really creative in how we are designing workplace experience that foster both freedom and loyalty. Knowing that employees can successfully work from home, leaders will want to direct their focus to a new area of mastery: the dimension and use of space. Shared space- real, virtual, and imagined- directly correlates to the depth of connection in the workplace. For companies to have any competitive advantage moving forward, they will want to invest now in creating socially innovative and impactful workplace experiences. Ultimately, that’s the crux of my work at Higher Playbook: inventing new ways to sustain a dispersed workforce, so that companies can have longevity far into the future.
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?
Today’s workforce has a high social consciousness. Professionals are very expressive of their personal identities and more outspoken about their expectations of their employers. With social channels like Linkedin and TikTok to reflect the needs and desires of diverse professional identities, we are all collectively driving a 21st century sociological shift of honoring, integrating, and celebrating all identities at work.
For work culture to become truly inclusive in the future, where each employee has the opportunity to self-actualize, personalization will be an important function of a workplace. When every employee is honored for their individuality and celebrated for their unique contribution, company cultures will thrive because of the strong sense of self-leadership. Every person will play an active part in their professional development, which serves the entire business ecosystem. This high-conscious approach benefits everyone, especially the companies who reap the long-term rewards of exceptional talent.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
As an Autistic leader, I know I speak for many neurodiverse talent in saying that people hold an untapped source of creativity and innovation. I’m optimistic about how a humanized workplace will allow for higher levels of inclusion, where the full spectrum of talent are invited to the table. For me, it’s really inspiring to be at the forefront of social evolution. To watch as employees and employers together question and reconsider what works for them. I see a shared commitment to create an innovate a future of work that works for all. It’s happening all around us now within the workspaces that companies are devoting to understanding one another and building relationships.
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?
I share a lot about impacting lives at work, which is really another way to say improving and optimizing our employee’s mental health and wellbeing. One core hypothesis is the foundation of my philosophy on workplace and practical facilitation of workspaces: Space creates a sense of place for people. Space and quality time together is the collective panacea for humanity and really the workforce at large.
I see workspace as the cornerstone, what many call the touchpoint, of a workplace experience. In the Interconnected Workplace™ design, there are 6 cornerstones (6Cs) that construct an overarching strategy for workplace experience: connection, conversation, collaboration, creation, contribution, and calibration. Whether people are connecting, conversing, collaborating, creating, contributing, or calibrating, impact is happening in the shared spaces together. Quality time compounds over time to significantly optimize employee health and wellbeing.
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 headlines are really capturing a shift in power relations between employers and employees. With evolving interpretations of this workforce trend, every headline serves as a reminder to employers to go to the heart of the story: your employees. Get curious around how the trends could be showing up in your workplace. Give employees the space to voice their needs and desires. Go deeper and engage in real conversations with your teams.
What is clear: Employees are expanding their perceptions of work and the value of work in their lives. It’s time for employers to meet them there. When employers are open to hearing what employees want in their workplace experience, they can receive both direction and inspiration to evolve their company cultures. Company cultures will take shape when leaders open up more space for ongoing conversation with their employees. Let the workforce lead the way in progressing the workplace forward.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- Renovation of Workplace Experience. The workplace of the future will be designed around connection over anything else. When people come together in physical and virtual spaces, the intention will be to deepen relationships. Productivity and performance will happen as byproducts of connectedness; and employees can focus on these aspects of their work wherever they geographically choose. Employers spearheading the renovation of workplace experience can begin by allocating workspace for relationship building. Every employee will play an active part in shaping the workplace too, by sharing their innovative ideas for what they desire to experience at work.
- The Leader as Workplace Facilitator. With the growing autonomy of the workforce, the key function of leadership will be to support employee learning and skills mastery. While leaders have played a more managerial function in the past, tomorrow’s leaders will play a facilitatory function. They will position themselves as facilitators, offering opportunities for personal and professional development throughout the work week. Additionally, you’ll see more organizations bringing in external consultants for program design and facilitation. You’ll also start noticing new leadership roles emerge, like Director of Workplace Learning, Director of Social Innovation, and Chief Impact Officer.
- Personalization of Roles. In the future of work, a company’s retention of talent will happen through employers’ efforts to personalize each employee’s journey. Employers will come from the intention of personalization with each new hire. Employees will feel inspired to evolve their roles and responsibilities, in effect building long-term careers within the same company. Starting in hiring and onboarding, the employee will see their employer as their partner in building their career trajectory. Over the progression of their tenure, leadership will offer 1:1 personalized attention to help their employees match their skills to the ideal job function.
- Cause over Company. Every professional will base their decisions of where to invest their energy on which companies represent causes that matter to them. They will focus on developing their personal mission, vision, and purpose in the course of their career. This deeper awareness will guide their professional trajectory, and in many ways, keep companies accountable to their missions. Leaders will foster continued alignment between the company and employee by participating in mission-centric work together. We will know and respect companies for their Special Projects, how they mobilize talent to strategically advance causes.
- Public Sharing of Key Impact Indicators. Companies will work together within and across industries to standardize how they define and measure impact. We will see the emergence of industry accepted key impact indicators that describe a company’s impact on employee lives, consumer lives, and society at large. Just like the UN has sustainable development goals, we’ll see companies publicly sharing how they’re impacting lives. Social enterprise will become the framework for businesses around the world, setting the stage for future generations of talent to build their careers around their aspirations for impact.
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?
Amanda Gorman was quoted in the Wall Street Journal last year, and I saved her quote to my notepad: “It’s often language makers who create a rhetoric for movement. They create a new type of dialect in which people can communicate shared dreams even if those shared dreams have yet to be realized.” As a language maker myself who loves playing with linguistics, I know the power of words in bridging gaps and creating understanding. I’m empowered sharing new language like the Interconnected Workplace™ in this interview, as I know the vision will inspire someone who shares my dream of a socially innovative workplace. Every movement begins here, in the transmission of language, and I approach my work as a workplace facilitator knowing words impact lives.
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’d really enjoy a conversation with Holly Branson, the Chief Purpose and Vision Officer at Virgin. I feel her passion and enthusiasm about the future of work. She clearly has a true talent for taking big visions for the workforce and driving them forward through people projects. I know she could offer such incredible insights on purpose, strategy and people operations. She is a purposeful leader!
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 always inspired by the relationships that come through the internet! I invite people to check out my website www.higherplaybook.com for practical resources to re-humanize your work. You’re also welcome to connect with me and Higher Playbook on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/higherplaybook/
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.