In spite of concerns about automation in the workplace, we can consider this phenomenon as an opportunity. Automation can free human workers for more creative and impactful activities. More people will have an opportunity to get a well-paid job in the future, as highly-predictable jobs will be replaced by automation.

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 Liliya Yakupova.

Liliya is the HR Director of TalentService, with over ten years of experience in banking and information technology. Throughout her career, she developed internal HR processes and created recruitment models from scratch. Currently, she oversees a 7-person HR department.

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 once read an article written by one of the HR directors. It said: “The employer doesn’t care about the individual employee as an individual. He cares about what the employee can contribute to the company.”

This phrase hooked me. Back then, I was 21 years old and a recruiter, so I understood the importance of staff to a company’s success. I found this phrase challenging as I wanted to understand how working with employees actually works. Was it true that the formal results were sufficient for an employer, and as a person, you added no value?

Throughout the ten years, I’ve been working in human resources, I have tried to instill the idea that employees are the most valuable resource behind the success of any company. Today, many companies compete for employees by offering not just interesting projects for their work time but also benefits, such as compensation for employee hobbies and development (not just hard skills, but also soft skills) in their spare 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?

Considering how fast the world is changing today, I find it hard to foresee any continuity with the present moment!

While we are used to living and working in the candidate market, it’s quite possible that things will change in the future because the newly emerging trends such as turquoise organizations and ESG principles may directly impact human resources and corporate culture.

There may be changes at the intersection of ethics and labor law, including hybrid work formats, etc. We already see some precedents. For example, if a remotely-working employee fell down the stairs in his own house during the course of a workday, should it be recognized as an occupational injury? Currently, there isn’t an established procedure for issues like this.

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

I would say that businesses should increasingly focus on training new specialists since it is difficult to find developers for mid-level and higher positions. Establish new schools, courses, and departments to train and hire skilled IT professionals. You should also let your employees express themselves (within reason, of course). It’s very cool to find an employer who gives you an opportunity to self-actualize and grow — and employees value that.

Evaluate both the overall situation and the situation in a particular industry. It is important to listen to industry experts but also to have the courage to forge your own path. There are companies that base their appeal on technological leadership and a strong product. Others rely on “atmosphere.” The successful ones will combine both.

As always, organizations of the future will be highly sensitive to finding a balance between control and turquoise, scaling and customization, and a variety of other issues.

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, more than ever, the work/life balance is in high demand. Classical career growth models used to mean that the balance was tipped toward work, but now we see people who want to move forward in their career but keep their personal time and resources to themselves.

People at different levels may also look for opportunities to change their career paths more frequently. This makes it difficult for a business to continually improve the processes of recruitment and adaptation, including the onboarding of managers.

In the meantime, it’s hard to imagine what could cause senior developers to leave their jobs. Experienced developers aren’t that interested in the enormous salaries and other bonuses offered by different companies. The biggest requirement for a developer nowadays is a project that interests them, as well as an opportunity to learn some new concepts/skills/know-how.

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

“Working from home” is becoming a hygiene factor instead of a “benefit.” “Remote work” is not frightening anymore. It is becoming more and more common for companies with offices outside of your city to gain your trust. Great opportunities are opening up — after all, you can have a much more rewarding and interesting experience if you don’t limit your job search by your place of residence.

For example, in terms of the perception, working from home is already perceived as the norm in many companies. However, in terms of restructuring processes, this will take some time.

And while employees will be pondering where to settle down for their remote work, employers who miss their good old managers will be mulling the questions of who should be called back into the office and how to do that best. In some industries, the employees will return on their own, as office work will provide them with a more stable career trajectory. Some won’t need to come back as remote work will be more effective. But other employers will have to figure out how to make their hybrid work a cool and productive experience.

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 is a shortage of personnel in working professions. Here all proposals to change the situation can be implemented at the global level and through structural changes. And the big question is not just what steps should be introduced and in what way, but who has both the competence and the level of interest in the problem to solve it.

– Changes to the labor law: the introduction of a new work ethic, the development, and consolidation of its norms, as well as the consolidation of hybrid schedules and remote work as full-fledged types of employment.

– The topic of wellness and health care. The pandemic not only required the companies to make substantial changes to their operational processes but also highlighted a massive vulnerability — in this case, in the face of a virus. On the one hand, it is a question of taking care of health in general, and on the other hand, it’s about the measures that will enable the people to go through a period of recovery and rehabilitation with fewer losses.

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

I would say that the greatest source of my optimism is the opportunity to work in the fastest-growing business — the IT sector — and to influence this business in a positive way. Among other things, the Great Resignation led to a revised approach to hiring, building corporate culture, and ensuring employee engagement. In other words, employers became more attentive to their workers’ needs and goals. Corporate culture is not just a word anymore, as people prefer to share their time and expertise with mission-driven companies. To me, this looks like a brighter future where everyone can unleash their potential to the fullest.

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?

A company’s corporate culture should, first and foremost, fully reflect its goals, mission, where the company is going, and what it wants to achieve.

At a time of “loud” and “great,” it is truly important to not only stay on top of the current agenda but to be able to focus on what is going on internally — with teams and processes. It’s essential to be a point of reference for people.

It won’t work if the company has one kind of corporate culture “for internal consumption” and projects a different kind to the outside world. Such facades can produce only a short-term effect, and with the speed of information dissemination growing, they will crumble faster.

Companies will also pay more attention to collaborations, both inside and outside, including engagement with alumni communities.

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

  1. Work From Home Culture.

WFH has become one of the most critical options that employees consider when choosing a company. According to a Microsoft survey, 52% of people are thinking of switching to a full-time remote or hybrid job this year, just as more businesses announce return-to-office requirements. For example, Airbnb’s career page skyrocketed in popularity after the company announced its employees would be able to continue to live and work anywhere.

However, full- or hybrid-remote models will also require a rethinking of internal coordination, communication, employee retention, and even remote firing. This shift is followed by a brand new, work-from-home culture.

2. Diversity.

Today, the concept of diversity is no longer just a trend but a necessary precondition for the development of a socially responsible business. In addition to gender diversity, this policy also considers cultural, national, and religious diversity. Diversity & Inclusion Officer positions have already begun to appear in a number of companies.

The Diversity concept implies not just the equal conditions for all employees, free from harassment and discrimination, but also an opportunity to develop and grow. According to McKinsey analysts, diverse companies are more profitable.

3. Automation of many professions.

In spite of concerns about automation in the workplace, we can consider this phenomenon as an opportunity. Automation can free human workers for more creative and impactful activities. More people will have an opportunity to get a well-paid job in the future, as highly-predictable jobs will be replaced by automation.

Some automated occupations may simply undergo major changes, but that does not necessarily mean they will disappear. There is a well-known example of bank tellers in the US banks whose main job activity was to collect money from the customers and deposit it into accounts. Although ATMs were introduced, the number of bank tellers only increased as branches expanded quickly, thanks to the lower operating costs.

4. ESG development culture.

A company’s ESG culture is an important factor for most employees, which means that these people are likely to choose a socially responsible company. 86% of employees say their employers aren’t doing enough to combat climate change. Employers must develop an ESG culture and adhere to it on a day-to-day basis, especially in these times of talent shortage.

5. Reskilling.

In many professions, automation will require updating your skills or acquiring new competencies. The trend of upskilling will remain relevant for a long time. While some specialists upskill intentionally due to the advent of automation or a desire to change their career path, others upgrade their skills to meet the demands of a rapidly changing market.

A 2019 PwC study found that 74% of surveyed employees were willing to learn new skills or retrain entirely to improve their employment prospects. At the same time, 87% of CEOs say that they notice skill gaps in their teams.

As a result, reskilling will become a key priority over the next few years, as companies have to match workers with their new roles and responsibilities. A strong reskilling strategy will strengthen the companies for future disruptions.

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?

Do everything with pleasure, it embellishes life. This is one of the principles on which I base my work and my life. I believe that inspired people are capable of more.

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.

Reed Hastings, Netflix founder. The values and corporate culture of Netflix are similar to mine. I would like to meet a person who sets trends in HR, thinks outside the box and ponders global issues (such as education, charity, etc.).

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 actively share my professional news and insights on my LinkedIn page.

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