Changing more traditional top-down management systems to having a holistic business system. A provider of heating and hot water may decide to leave the old management style behind and move more than 500 employees and managers to work as a seamless holistic business system. Eliminating silos between individuals, teams and departments, weaving the purpose in every process and decision making, the company is setting a clear example within the industry.
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 Laura Gerrits.
Laura Gerrits is the CEO and Founder of The Holistic Enterprise, the world-leading company helping entrepreneurs and business owners of 7–9 figure revenue companies expand their team’s vision and connection to a purpose. Internationally renowned as a holistic business strategist, she redesigns company structure and realigns work culture so teams feel valued. Their services have been utilized by businesses in over 30 industries, growing revenue by millions and unlocking engagement with customers and workers.
Overhauling hierarchy and mentoring executives to build a more impactful leadership style, Laura rebuilds a fitter company with flatter structure and purpose. It leads to bigger profits, better talent retention, and increased unity among employees. She is reinventing outdated management and business structure to incredible success.
To learn more visit: https://theholisticenterprise.com/
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?
I grew up in the Soviet Union. As a child I was not allowed to have an opinion, to have a critical perspective on something that was taught at school or embraced as norms in soviet society. We simply had to obey command and control, and be careful about dreaming or envisioning loudly. I lived in Lithuania, today known as one of the innovative and progressive Baltic Countries. My country’s borders were closed. It was not possible to travel overseas, unless you worked for the Soviet government. As far as I remember deep inside I rebelled. I knew there was more to life than living under this fear and restraint. I always knew I would get out of this system. I felt I was born for a bigger impact.
In the summer of 1999 when I was 12 years old, my relatives from the United States visited Lithuania and us. It was the first time I saw jeans and tasted bananas. My aunt who has Lithuanian roots, but lived in the USA spent a lot of time with me. Her Lithuanian language was broken, and I didn’t speak English at all, but somehow we connected. I felt as if I was someone for the first time. She encouraged me to dream, to plan, to envision my future…and I did.
When she left, I walked door to door in our big, ugly, russian flat building asking strangers if they had an English vocabulary. I was beyond thrilled and happy when I found someone. It took me one year of intensive practice to learn the English language and transition over from German classes at the high school during the next year.
This was the experience where I recall the purest version of me and my calling.
Recently when the war in Ukraine started, the memories of repressed childhood came to the surface. It boosted the anger and frustration within me again. It gave me the bravery to speak up and become the voice of my impact in the world. It is no wonder why today I am on a mission to reach 1 million brave leaders to inspire and create business growth beyond hierarchies of over controlling management.
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?
In 10 years time I believe there will be the same desire and need for individuals to work for impact, rather than only cash. A need to know how one’s daily work is contributing to the collective. Individuals will continue to want to freely choose and navigate between various roles, to expand or narrow down their responsibility levels depending on their life context. Having purpose led work boundaries about communication channels, team meetings, aligned expectations, and collaboration, will have the same importance to well-being and employment as it is today. Human to human interactions will also be highly valued in the era of hybrid-remote work.
I predict that major changes will emerge in repetitive and monotonous work. We will be able to delegate standard work, for example reviewing information, evaluating everyday cases, foreseeing risks, communicating to clients and even making decisions will be done by AI driven digital solutions.
It will eliminate human mistakes and a feeling of guilt from making them. It will increase productivity, effectiveness, and stop the toxic desire of outdated top-down management styles to overload the employees with work, and keep them busy.
Imagine how few hours you will have to actually do the work when you have your AI personal assistant who is handling all your monotonous work?
Humans will work seamlessly together with AI avatars either digital or robotic. They will feel comfortable and at ease discussing, aligning, and agreeing on tasks and accountability together. I personally foresee there being AI avatar assistants in every meeting contributing to a bigger impact with us.
People at work will have more space for expansive and truly holistic thinking. With the capabilities and capacities of AI digital solutions we will have the bravery to execute some big ideas producing massive impacts. The meaning of the verb “work” will change. The leaders of progressive work in the future will understand the importance of balance in their schedules. Today, many mainstream leaders still think that employees are hard working just by doing the work, and it is taboo to have free time and just BE.
Since the less involved work will be done by AI or machine learning, the daily operations will not require our time to firefight, correct errors, or eliminate waste from processes. Finally, it will be more common to work less and have a solid foundation for well-being. It will be more normal to have 1–3 days in a working week, and those days will be spent on expansive and creative thinking, connecting, integrating, testing or synthesizing various resources to enlarge our business impact.
The one major role leaders will have in the future is to anchor the essence of the business’ impact into every process, step, thought, and decision of the company. We will have time to really understand our WHY in business, feel oneness with it and weave it into our organizational design and working model.
The trust level in the workplace will increase drastically. Humans will experience smooth, high standard daily operations executed on time, completely and accurately. The fear in the workplace and blame culture will disappear. There will be no need for managers to check, judge, or micromanage employees. They will finally have time to become the architects of living organizations, connecting minds, hearts, and resources to work for one impact. There will be no top-down organizational charts or red and green KPIs measuring how busy people are. We will see an increasing number of companies successfully led without managers. Hierarchical work management will disappear. Silo mentality such as “this is not my job” or “this is not my responsibility, so, why should I care?” will fade away.
Teams will work together with clients, suppliers, and technology hand in hand.
In regards to a workplace, remote work will become a norm within many service industries. Hybrid work will manifest more in manufacturing industries. It means the need for office buildings will disappear.
Gatherings in the form of team building and connecting will be conducted every 3–6 months most likely away from the office. People will celebrate togetherness and will appreciate feeling real collective energy.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Be relentlessly clear about the impact your company is here to create. Weave the impact and purpose of your business into the value stream stages, meetings, client journey, and decision making between your teams, clients, and suppliers. Throw away an organizational chart if you’ve got one. If you don’t have one, don’t introduce it.
Start designing a holistic business system today. Build an architecture where both people, robots and AI work seamlessly together for your business impact. See your company as an ecosystem interacting with clients, suppliers, and government entities. Eliminate non-value adding KPIs that don’t reflect the impact or purpose. Change the functional accountability meetings to horizontal accountability meetings.
Standardize all repetitive daily operational tasks. Then, apply existing technologies to fully overtake the execution of those operations. Be bold, ask yourself what type of monotonous jobs do I as CEO do hourly, daily or weekly that can be done by my AI assistant?
Find the time to stop. Feel oneness with your impact and build a business fully aligned with it.
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?
Today, we have gaps between remote and office work, 40 hour versus 30 hour work weeks, flexible versus static working schedules, stable salaries versus working on demand etc. Similar needs will be even more present in the future as well.
I see four strategies helping these transitions:
- Employers and companies would benefit from setting up their boundaries and being explicitly clear on what they can offer without jeopardizing their impact-led ambitions. I sometimes suggest a company that can fully work remotely to introduce daily, 30 minute virtual horizontal accountability meetings. Having the daily pulse of the business as a whole will connect everyone to the bigger purpose no matter where they work from. Having time and space for people to connect, collaborate, plan, and make decisions together will give everyone safety and trust for both shareholders and employees.
- Create seamless information flow in the business as a whole and automate repetitive daily tasks. This can instantly save time used on non-value activities. I believe some companies can decide to work 3–4 days instead of 5, once the daily operations are executed completely and accurately without lowering the salary. In my experience, people spend 30–40% of their time doing non-value activities because individuals and teams work in silos, lack information or have conflicting KPIs and priorities.
- Identify the critical resources, critical interdependencies, critical tasks in your business to fulfill the impact and amplify wealth. Protect them against variation. For example, if within your agency sales process is a constraint, make sure the sales team works only with sales and is not responsible for reviewing, filing info, creating contracts, issuing invoices, etc. Make sure your sales team has a que of the right leads to work on daily. That process alignment between marketing and sales teams can give a possibility for team members to have flexible schedules.
For other non critical resources companies can hire freelance talent on demand. Freelancers are highly motivated, have strong critical thinking, multifunctional skills, and like taking bigger ownership.
4. Create full transparency of your business as a whole from product fit to market to feedback from your clientele. Everybody within your company would benefit from understanding the overarching vision and how they are all part of the mission. Organizational charts do not show that. Giving people the holistic business map with clear end-to-end responsibilities and interdependencies will give them confidence and boost performance results.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
I predict our world will become even more connected. The boundaries between countries, time zones and cultures will fade. A local company in Spain today is capable of hiring people from all over the world, fully embracing inclusivity and diversity. Employees choose spending time for a mindful breakfast with a family instead of rushing through the traffic when commuting to work. Humans will be more conscious about choosing the workplace and employer. They will explicitly search for companies with big impact and purpose that aligns with them. Employers, embracing flexibility and hybrid-remote work, will intensively invest in reshaping the management and information systems, eliminating past ego-driven standards such as yearly performance reviews.
When working for impact in a hybrid-remote era they will feel more fulfillment in their daily lives. Employers will hire more talent in the form of freelancers or partners based on demand. The fear driven belief to have “my employees” will change to “my partners and team working for one impact”.
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 societal norm that would be great to change is that of schools and who they allow admitted.
I believe many employees would love to experience working from anywhere in the world. Therefore, knowing that there are kindergartens and schools in another country ready to admit my child for 4–8 weeks is a change all of us would benefit from seeing.
Also the old understanding that a busy worker is a productive worker has to change. A worker who has time to simply be and produce freely from their state of being is the change I truly want to see.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
I am beyond thrilled seeing how toxic top-down management principles are starting to melt away. Every week, through my work I meet conscious and brave business owners and CEOs curious about new progressive ways of growing their impact and wealth beyond stifling corporate theater.
Entrepreneurs yearn to craft living and adaptive business structures, empower people to make decisions for the business as a whole, produce wealth, and impact in different ways than they have been taught or experienced.
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?
- Changing a top-down organizational structure and erasing the functional walls between individuals and teams. This strategy is a paradigm shift. Human beings thrive best in the environment of trust and accountability, rather than the pressure to perform for a boss.
- Introducing a 4 day work week with the same salary creates both focus at work and home with more time for yourself or your family.
- Bravely dismantling non-value meetings and performance reviews coming from a command and control approach. Introduce a day without meetings. Our time and energy is limited, using it wisely is the key to well-being. Asking your teams “What can we stop doing and no one will notice?”, “What here and now do we have to decide and execute?”
- Investing in automatization of repetitive tasks and freeing people from non-value tasks.
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?
Leaders have to be the ones to evolve their company culture.
Find the time to stop while your business is flourishing. Make the space to listen from within several hours per week. Reset. Realign. Connect to the purest version of you.
Leaders are busy nourishing their businesses and don’t tend to stop for deep reflection only when something bad happens. Become fully aligned with your impact. Feeling oneness with it is your source for constant evolution.
I always recommend my clients include 3–4 hours per week for walking, riding a bike or doing nothing. In the space of being, ask yourself what impact do you as CEO or business owner desire to fulfill with your business? How can you design a business system fully aligned with purpose? How can you anchor the essence of the impact in every process stage, meeting content, decision making, client journey etc.?
Be clear about your own leadership boundaries. Are you okay with a 3–4 day work week? Are you okay with changing the traditional top-down organizational structure to a holistic business structure? Be honest with yourself. What elements of operations do you not want to change and how will keeping them help you and your teams to contribute to the overall impact?
Our work culture will evolve when the old management beliefs of command and control change. The old management rituals such as cascading strategic goals, separate functions controlling peoples’ performance by red and green KPIs, and spending hours on reporting to management about the work will no longer make sense. The necessity of having managers will change to a need to have leaders.
The leaders will foster new beliefs that will reinvigorate and redesign the company culture.
In the next 5 years, it won’t be normal to create a strategy for a C-suite by spending 3–5 days in a hotel conference room without teams, clients, and suppliers. Future leaders boldly invite clients, suppliers and their core team members to reassess the company direction, to understand the interdependencies, and leverage points for producing massive impact and wealth as one ecosystem.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- Working alongside personal AI assistants and embedding digital AI solutions for taking everyday tasks. This could look like a law office that is super busy and stretched to serve 50 daily clients on time, install AI assistants, and every lawyer who previously spent 50% of their time reviewing, looking for risks, correcting or producing contracts is free from that workload. With AI assistants, 20 people from the department were provided with more challenging roles within the company. For example consulting and educating clients and helping their businesses to mitigate risks.
- As stated in my above trend, I believe with more technology and AI being introduced into the workplace, humans will be allowed the freedom to take on more creative and innovative problem solving. More workers will be promoted into positions that require greater critical thinking. With people being able to step back from the rigorous daily upkeep and business maintenance they face on a regular basis, we will be challenged to evolve what our role is in the office.
- 4 day work weeks. An example could be the owner of a dental clinic decided to introduce a 4 day work week, Monday to Thursday. It took 6 months to prepare for the change. The team redesigned the scheduling process, realigned with clients and suppliers to work in this rhythm. The biggest fear of making less profit when working less days was busted. The new scheduling process and new team beliefs helped to onboard the right clients, who choose to have a healthy preventative mindset instead of coming in for transactional dental care. Within one year the dental clinic doubled their revenue and profit working 4 days a week instead of 5.
- Changing more traditional top-down management systems to having a holistic business system. A provider of heating and hot water may decide to leave the old management style behind and move more than 500 employees and managers to work as a seamless holistic business system. Eliminating silos between individuals, teams and departments, weaving the purpose in every process and decision making, the company is setting a clear example within the industry.
Another local real estate and construction company introduced daily, virtual meetings between teams, core suppliers and clients. It took them 5 months to align, practice and find the best meeting content for making decisions together. It took time to prove to the freelancing architects that these meetings will give them insights and learning, but after 4 weeks of practice the architects got valuable insights from construction workers and building experts and improved the building solutions on time. Within one year the company’s profit increased from EUR 5M to 10M.
5. I think we’ll also continue to see the development of more impact driven companies. Businesses that can connect with customers and share their passion and purpose are championed by their followers. By infusing that sense of mission driven impact into the work culture and letting it flow into interactions with clients will create incredible results. The world has lots of problems that need to be solved and the companies that are looking to make improvements that positively affect all of us as a collective are the ones that will win big.
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?
Steven Covey has inspired me deeply. When I lived in Denmark I read his books every day. It helped me to adapt to a new culture and find my role. “Begin with the end in mind” — is my favorite one. I wanted to be accepted by Danish culture, so I learned to master the Danish language within a year. I loved the fashion industry and wanted to create jobs for people, so I became an entrepreneur within fashion manufacturing. I did these things because I took time to envision and feel oneness with it. I am not sure how my life would have turned out without this quote.
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.
Two people are always on my mind. Naveen Jain, the Founder of Viome, and Vishen Lakhiani, the Founder of Mindvalley.
Naveen Jain inspires me to think big and solve some of the major problems by looking into its causes. Viome has a purpose to protect and prevent chronic diseases for humans because Naveen once asked himself “what if a disease can be a choice?”. I followed him for 7 years, and with his influence I decided to redefine the management consulting industry by asking myself “what if a business can grow without hierarchy?”. This is how I discovered my purpose. If I had breakfast with Naveen I would ask “How and when can organizations introduce Viome to their employees as a well-being initiative and become catalysts for preventing people from chronic diseases?”
Vishen Lakhiani is the most adaptive role model for me. A Malaysian immigrant who studied in the USA, living poorly as a student, who loved meditation, and had an eye for technology, photography, and art, redefined education and personal growth. I love seeing his evolution, his vulnerability and strenghts. If I had coffee with Vishen in Tallinn, I would ask “What 3–5 Mindvalley programmes embedded into primary, secondary schools, and universities would make a massive difference for our humanity?”
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?
The best way to connect with me is through my website http://www.theholisticenterprise.com or by reaching out to me on LinkedIn.
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.