Benefits and Perks will Expand. In order to attract and retain talent, employers will need to provide new types of benefits beyond just health insurance and catered lunches. Look for new benefits such as life coaching, professional development or continuing education opportunities, plant medicine retreats, and even perks like pet health insurance.

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 Meredith Turney.

Meredith Turney is a conscious leadership coach, consultant and communicator, who helps leaders and their teams create new ways of working and relating so they can prepare for the future by consciously co-creating it. Meredith has helped a wide variety of leaders from Fortune 500 companies, political nonprofits, and small businesses develop their conscious leadership and create a more equitable, conscious workplace for all.

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 background in politics, law, marketing, media relations, youth mentoring, and nonprofit coaching led me to realize the only true impact in the world is the Gandhi quote that has become my personal mantra: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” By each of us aligning with our true life purpose and what sparks our passion, we can live lives of greater fulfillment and truly have a lasting impact in the world.

I was a homeschooled kid so early on I developed the skills needed to work in a remote environment: self-motivation, commitment, and follow-through. I knew for my career, I wanted to have the flexibility of remote work, so for the last decade I have worked remotely. My deepest desire is to see conscious companies that offer flexible positions for their employees so that they can live a more balanced life, while also producing more inspired work than they ever thought possible.

I’ve also experienced poor management at work. It can be demoralizing. I became a professional coach because I saw so many people I worked with who were unhappy not with the actual work they do, but with their managers or infrastructures in their workplace. I want to see more conscious leadership in the workplace so people can thrive instead of just survive.

The birth of my first child in 2021 also reiterated for me the need to provide greater work/life balance for employees. Building a beautiful life and family shouldn’t mean we have to sacrifice the satisfaction of work and projects we enjoy.

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?

Work will always include people coming together to collaborate and create something — whether it’s a service or a product. How we collaborate will change significantly due to advances in technology that enable more productive remote work. We will see more asynchronous collaboration.

The importance of building a team will remain. Teams will meet periodically at retreat centers for team building and meetings. Then they will return to their homes around the globe and work remotely.

The nature of leadership will also change. We will see a demand for more conscious leadership. This means leaders who work on increasing their own level of consciousnes. They will grow in empathy, and creating win-win-win scenarios for all stakeholders (not just stockholders). Employees and the public want to see leaders who aren’t driven solely by profit, but by the prosperity they can create for more stakeholders in their company and their community.

Conscious leadership means growing as a whole person, not just professional skills that translate directly into increasing the bottom line. Leaders and their teams will still engage in professional coaching and development, but the scope will go beyond just professional abilities and help them grow as individuals how can integrate all aspect of their life and live a truly holistic life.

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

Focus on building strong teams full of individuals committed to their growth. That means providing them opportunities to grow professionally and personally. Provide coaching, skill-building and mentorship in addition to traditional benefits and perks such as healthcare or expense accounts.

Listen to your team and then implement changes based on their feedback. Don’t dictate policies in a vacuum of input from your team. The future of work is much more democratic and decentralized. Lean into it and start building structures to support the flexibility and equality employees expect.

Work/life balance and integration are the future of work. That means giving employees the flexibility to work on their own schedule while still achieving the organization’s goals.

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?

This will depend on the specific industry. For example, those working in a retail establishment won’t have as many remote options as a knowledge worker. But all employees will demand more equal pay, flexible hours, and greater work/life balance. This may mean being more equitable in how profits are distributed, such as giving more raises and bonuses to employees in order to retain talent and create a workplace that is highly sought after by talent. It may mean more contractors instead of full-time employees. And that means higher consulting fees for contractors. So anticipate higher labor costs, but greater talent and more successful goal achievement.

Get creative in how you structure work hours, learn asynchronous communication skills, teach your team how to thrive in these new ways of working. Those who get this right early on will have a leg up on competition and will be able to draw and retain talent.

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

Countless studies now show that all workers want greater flexibility and work/life balance. Most are willing to take a pay cut or reduced benefits in order to achieve this. Now that they’ve had a couple years practice working remotely, most knowledge workers will never return to a 9–5 office experience. So, as I suggested previously, get creative in how you establish communication and collaboration on your team. Hire experts to build the systems you need. Plan fun, engaging in-person meetings throughout the year to build team camaraderie and foster creativity.

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?

Society must rid itself of the mindset that work means a 9–5 office experience. It also means we must guard against work-creep in a remote setting. That means if you’re contracted or paid for forty hours a week, we shouldn’t tolerate working sixty-hour weeks. For too long employers have tried to squeeze more out of their employees than that employee was contracted or paid to do. Become realistic about what’s feasible from each employee.

Also, we need to evolve past the forty-hour work week. Instead, focus on setting clear goals for each employee, each team, and the overall organization. Establish regular check-ins to see if everyone is on track to achieve those goals. Compensation can be based on goals worked towards and achieved rather than hours spent at a desk. If a team can accomplish a goal ahead of schedule, while still maintaining true work/life balance, that’s a huge win for everyone involved.

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

My vision and optimism for the future of work is that everyone builds a life they love, full of passion and purpose, where their work is recognized and rewarded. Everyone will get to engage in work they enjoy doing, while having the time and resources to build a life of meaning. For some, that may mean working from a beach, for others, creating new, exciting technology. For others, it means caring for their children in between phone calls in a seamless way that allows them to engage in projects they love while being their for their family.

This kind of flexibility and abundance is available for all once we begin developing our conscious leadership.

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?

The future of work means employers who care about the whole person development of their staff. That means providing resources and development opportunities. Research shows that people get burned out and quit when they feel like their work isn’t recognized or they feel like they don’t have opportunities for growth. It also means being realistic about what each person can achieve in their role.

Employers will need to listen more often and more deeply to their teams and then actually implement changes based on their feedback. Instead of an oligarchy, the workplace will be more decentralized and function more like a democracy where all team members get to participate in strategy and developing the policies of their organization.

As a conscious leadership coach, I absolutely believe coaching is a powerful resource to provide to staff in order to help them become the best version of themselves and realize their full potential. Employers have the opportunity to do so much more than provide a paycheck to their staff. They can actually empower their teams to become powerful conscious leaders, which will have a have a huge ripple effect and impact society.

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?

We are witnessing a cultural shift in how we view work and life. People have had time the last two years to reevaluate what matters to them. They realized life is about more than working sixty-plus hours to buy more materialistic goods. They’d rather have a nice quality of life.

Employers need to recognize that this is a shift in values. Focus on how to match your organization’s culture to these important core values. The leaders who.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Leaders will Focus on Building their Conscious Leadership: Employees and the public expect more out of their employers and leaders than just a paycheck and a service or product. They want leaders who work on their level of consciousness and are focused on creating value for all stakeholders — not just stockholders. Look for more and more leaders to engage in this type of personal and professional development through coaching, retreats, and peer groups.
  2. Remote Work is the New Norm: Even once the pandemic resolves, employees will want the flexibility of remote work. Companies will learn how to recreate collaboration and creation while allowing for greater work/life balance for their teams.
  3. Work/Life Balance is Paramount: Workers across industries have had two years to evaluate what’s important to them and decided that work/life balance is of paramount importance — even at the expense of a higher paycheck. Companies that match their policies to value will proper financially and reputationally. Also, when work is no longer based on salaried hours, workers can charge for projects and value created. Instead of committing to just one company, they will contract with several at higher pay and be empowered to set the work hours that provide their definition of work/life balance.
  4. Benefits and Perks will Expand. In order to attract and retain talent, employers will need to provide new types of benefits beyond just health insurance and catered lunches. Look for new benefits such as life coaching, professional development or continuing education opportunities, plant medicine retreats, and even perks like pet health insurance.
  5. Employees will look to their Organizations for Personal Growth. Instead of traditional professional development that focused only on a skill related to a specific role, employees will look for opportunities to grow overall. Skill-building will still be important as technology rapidly changes, but individuals will look for ways to grow overall as a person. This is significant because we are holistic beings. We can’t leave our personal life at the virtual door when we start working.

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?

“Each person we meet is our teacher and student.” This is one of the greatest conscious leadership concepts. It requires confidence and humility. Even the most powerful CEO can learn from the youngest employee.

When we see others as our teachers, it puts us in the growth mindset and helps us see the value in every person we encounter. When we recognize that everyone is our student, we look for ways to help them grow just as our own favorite teacher did for each of us.

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.

Whole Foods founder John Mackey just wrote a book about conscious leadership. He is truly a pioneer in bringing more conscious leadership to his industry and beyond. I find his work and career inspiring as he is a leader who constantly works on increasing his level of consciousness so he can better serve others.

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 write a weekly Substack newsletter about conscious leadership, the future of work, and remote team building:

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