Intentional meetings — burnout is real. If we want to keep people engaged we need our time to be well spent. Effective collaboration and meeting time is becoming a cultural differentiator.
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 Katie Kulikoski.
Katie has been a people and culture leader for innovative technology organizations for more than two decades. As Chief People Officer for Progress, her passion is ensuring that the talented humans with whom she partners are the strategic differentiator for the business. Her enthusiasm for envisioning better ways of working together has never been higher than it is in today’s changing landscape.
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.
Sure — I’ve been a woman working in tech for almost 25 years.. The ecosystem has changed — I’m rarely the only woman at the table anymore. But the singular thing that has changed me and the lens through which I experience work was becoming a mother. As a parent of two young girls, advocating for women professionally has evolved from a professional to a personal passion.
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?
What we’ve seen change in the past couple of years, has been a more intentional lens around the choice and freedom around employees to work in the way they choose. I think it will be preserved, because people won’t want to give it up. In 10–15 years, there will be a better refinement around the balance between employee choice and how people engage collaboratively at work. I anticipate co-location and in-office experience will be purpose-driven instead of schedule driven. Flexibility will move from being a benefit to a a necessity
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
We are remaining in volatile times at this point. The requirement for looking around the corner and trying to be predictive has become more complex than it has ever been. Rather than trying to look around the corner, we need to build in a growth mindset and resiliency as a cultural asset.
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?
The means of the collective instead of the means of the individual goals –the strategy is to pull the aperture out of it and to increase flexibility. Making agility and willingness to pivot essential on the side of both employers and employees. The skill of agility is not inherent, but one that can be taught and built into a learning and development framework, and it can be translated into real world scenarios.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
Very early on, my concern was that it was easier to navigate when we were all remote together. Now we will have to address the difference between working hybrid, remote, and in office
There should be equitable and optimal experiences for employees across the board — regardless of difference in work style.
Is your experience equitable regardless of how and where you are working? That will be the challenge.
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?
There has been a shift for caregivers in particular. That has a lot of risks — pros and cons to both. How do you appropriately support the whole person, not just the worker? Working parents, caretakers in general. Companies are getting in trouble because workers are over-committing, and it still exists; but how do we mask it and with what levels of support?
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
There has never been a better time to drive change in how we work. With change comes opportunity and I see a window that’s been cracked open for us to write a new chapter. If we can envision it, we can make it so. As workers step into the future, we have never been more empowered to influence our own future of work.
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?
At a high level, the duty of care and a company’s responsibility to look out for the whole self of all of their people has been incredibly impacted. Within Progress, we’ve offered tools ranging from micro-workouts to daily meditation practice to virtual childcare. Heightened care for people is a trend I hope never dissipates.
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?
Early into this uncharted era, I remember saying to a friend that people will react to the long pause by craving change. I think I said that the masses are going to want to change their house, their blouse, their spouse or their job (I couldn’t think of a word for a job that rhymed). But what I meant is that we all experienced a lack of agency with the pandemic. As opportunities to exercise that agency and individual choice return, we better bet that people are going to want to flex that refound power.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- Duty of care — the company has expanded responsibilities to care for the physical and mental health of their people.
- Flexibility — keep letting people work when and where they work best.
- Inclusive meeting experiences — the dialogue is active about how to keep the playing field more level for all meeting attendees, from virtual best practices to soliciting inputs from people newer in their career.
- Hyperfocus on experience — from how we enable people to effectively deliver unique, experience based rewards.
- Intentional meetings — burnout is real. If we want to keep people engaged we need our time to be well spent. Effective collaboration and meeting time is becoming a cultural differentiator.
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?
The great Dr. Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I believe we all share a very human need to be heard and to be respected and that has impacted how I perceive every single interaction.
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 just had the pleasure of seeing David Byrne’s American Utopia on Broadway for the second time. I had the privilege of being in the audience just as Broadway was reopening following the pandemic and I was literally overwhelmed by the celebration of embracing differences and the power of coming together to share experiences. I was so moved that we brought our daughters to see the show on its closing weekend. I would love to thank him for the experience.
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?
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.