Work that works for everyone: The last 24 months have changed everything. For businesses. For leaders. For employees. And it is clear that the power has shifted more towards people from organizations.
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 Lilia Stoyanov.
Lilia Stoyanov is a chief executive officer and angel investor at Transformify. A fintech and digital transformation expert, she is also a professor at Zigurat Business School, Barcelona and expert evaluator Horizon 2020 at the European Commission. An oxford University alumna, she is also a chartered accountant in the UK ( FCCA).
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.
If my core values are to be described by a single keyword, that’s ‘’ freedom’’. Since a young age, I wanted to have the freedom to choose anything and everything from the dress I would be wearing to the schools I would be attending to my career path. Leaving a prestigious corporate job to start a business and become investing was one of those decisions. Needless to say, Transformify gravitates around freedom as well. As a global payroll on-demand workforce management system, Transformify lets people work remotely from wherever they want, be paid compliantly and enjoy the freedom to work for any business even if it is oceans apart.
Started as an all-remote company long before Covid-19 pandemic, Transformify is run by freelancers sourced via its own database. Having no offices or employees and expanding globally is real life proof to some future of work concepts. It’s the future of work here, happening now.
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?
The common aspects of the future of work still come down to the basics of human beings and how they interact with each other and is true for both internally within the company, and outbound through the customer relationships and experiences they build and maintain.
These interactions and evolution will be majorly impacted by technology and will shape the future interactions. In the next 10–15 years, we’ll see increasing thoughtfulness in the design of the workplace experience in a way that will hopefully balance these different levels of communication.
Working remotely has traditionally been seen as a controversial concept, but more and more companies are adopting work-from-home policies. Ten years ago, working remotely meant telemarketing or customer service positions at below minimum wage and rarely was connected with a full-time career. Now, technology grants us the ability to get the same job done, no matter where in the world we are and enables us to be in contact with co-workers or clients at any time.
A specific technology platform & related products that will be mainstream in this timeframe is Workforce Management System. As the workplace has changed dramatically over the years, workforce management strategies have needed to adapt to meet the needs of these trends. Notably, the landscape has changed from digitizing the relationship between business and customer to now digitizing the relationship between employer and employee as we adapt to the use of automation and innovative technology.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Outside of innovation, structure, and working in the business, I’d continue the focus on the culture and the remote work environment, these two things would be my number one focus for future-proofing. I say this because so many other business functions are standardized by regulatory bodies, traditional ways of working, or policy, but managing culture and remote teams requires a specific profile of a leader. Building a strong, meaningful culture across a distributed workforce — especially one that spans multiple countries — requires a new kind of leadership presence. Further, the right culture will help enable innovation, collaboration, and creativity, and these are going to be more critical than ever to remain competitive.
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 past year has enabled digital transformation across sectors. With the increasing awareness that employees are the true lifeblood of a company came an understanding that a company’s workforce is crucial to business recovery. This has prompted organizations to completely rethink how they attract, retain, and manage their talent. Thus we at Transformify believe that it is a 2 way street, without our team members, there is no business, but also, without the business, there is no employment.
We have never lost sight of this at Transformify and it’s paid off, as we see our employees constantly grow in their roles. Our team tries to evaluate, uplevel, and formalize our own corporate culture and DEI policies. We also provided some non-financial perks and benefits relevant to the team, such as:
- Providing a better work-life balance by making sure our high-performing team takes time to rejuvenate, and taking all their vacation time, ensuring they are taking care of their mental and physical health.
- Ensuring there are career advancement opportunities available.
- Providing more regular bonuses for individual and company performance.
- Ensuring everyone takes advantage of the available paid personal development, professional development, and certifications funds.
We care very deeply about the well-being and satisfaction of our employees and we make sure to demonstrate that through our corporate policies and actions.
The biggest gaps in expectations are in the different pace business success and profitability and employee expectations move with. It’s impossible to offer 30% salary increase if the net revenue has increase by 1%. It’s a simple math but often, it is overlooked and not that easy to explain to the team. In many countries, the inflation is soaring and employees expect their salaries and bonuses to be indexed to match the inflation rate. However, many businesses are loss making and can’t afford to do so.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
Transformify is an all-remote company. Working from home, a coworking office, or a café is the norm for us. More and more companies are open to remote working arrangements. It’s a win-win for everyone as people commute less, have a better work-life balance, and are more productive, while the businesses benefit from access to global talent. Remote working has helped Transformify to increase its productivity, opportunity to increase diversity by opening up the candidate pool and flexibility for employees to work from any location. Having said so, work from home is not always possible or jastifiable. Some businesses require at least part of their teams on-ground as they need to monitor the performance of production lines, fix the plumbing, etc. The future of work is more or less gravitating towards hybrid work and flexible working arrangements empowered by automation and distant control of systems, production lines and processes.
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?
The pandemic accelerated the trend of more flexible working situations and forced companies to be more empathetic than they had been in the past — and it showed them a new perspective on how to run a business remotely, and can actually be good for business. Here are a few things that Transformify has adopted to shape the way we work to support a future of work that works for everyone.
- Improve work-life balance, ensuring that it is valued by everyone at the organization
- Offer increased flexibility on work schedules.
- Offer more career advancement opportunities and professional development.
- Be as transparent as you can be with your team on business plans and vision.
- Make sure your business is measuring against your culture, DEI.
My greatest source of optimism is the amazing flexibility human beings can deploy in the face of unexpected and harsh realities. I regularly meet with people from all walks of life and am inspired by how individuals and teams have met these challenges, maintained a positive approach and moved forward in their respective businesses. I’m really inspired by their vision and commitment to being part of something they can believe in and feel connected to.
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?
This is a huge part of our work on our value system at Transformify, and I’ve brought the team together to work directly on — and own — our culture principles and our diversity equity and inclusion values, which are tightly coupled to how we operate every day. At Transformify we have infused the principle of remote working, well-being infused with “Be Giving, Care Deeply” and we live that every day. I think more companies need to be open to this approach to employee relationships. And lastly add more trust in your team. A truly trusting environment creates a very healthy operation. There is no room for ‘’ finger pointing’, we are all working towards the same goals and are supposed to support and uplift each other.
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? What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- The rise of HR Tech: HR Tech will be focused not only on streamlining the talent acquisition process but also on closing the digital skills gap as it is obvious that the skills the business needs are not necessarily possessed by the candidates.
- Gig Jobs and Increasing trend towards freelancing: More people will join the gig economy and will undertake freelance jobs at least from time to time. Even in developed countries like the US and UK, lots of people need an extra source of income to make ends meet, pay mortgage, repay university loans, etc. Freelance jobs along with traditional employment address these needs.
- Artificial intelligence in Hiring: The use of artificial intelligence in the employee recruitment process has been on the rise and is defining how recruitment managers do their work. With AI-based algorithms, employers can find invaluable insights on potential candidates from various sources. AI-based algorithms can also be used in analyzing facial expressions in video interviews and sentences in written interviews. It is also helpful in reviewing resumes, learning from the analyzed data and using it to schedule interviews as well as push potential hires up the hiring process. At the same time, we see a trend towards regulation of the usage of AI in recruitment and that’s a positive outcome. Technology is supposed to help people make informed decisions, not to exclude or limite the chances of anyone.
- Work that works for everyone: The last 24 months have changed everything. For businesses. For leaders. For employees. And it is clear that the power has shifted more towards people from organizations.
- Data Privacy: As technology advances so are the cases of cyber security rising and raising concern for potential hires who have to share their sensitive information with recruiters over the internet. Thus it has become important to protect and guard peoples’ data as well as protect employers from expensive scandals and court cases. Most HR professionals are taking data privacy protection seriously by deploying digital technology tools such as cloud storage to store sensitive data securely. They are also using digital signatures to protect job contracts.
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?
Yes, I have 2 favorite quotes and is based on my experience:
“Learn to rest, not to quit.’’ I am a workaholic and can reach a level of complete exhaustion when everything looks impossible.
“It is not the fear that should drive your decisions, but your inner confidence.’’ It was a situation that appeared helpless but one of my best friends simply said ‘’Look around. Everybody in this room will stand behind you no matter what. Do what you feel is right’’.
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.
Melinda Gates’s charitable work is remarkable. Many of the initiatives providing access to education or jobs to vulnerable people Transformify is engaged with will benefit from her expertise and support. Moreover, Microsoft is among the employers providing jobs to people on the autism spectrum which is also among our objectives.
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.