Success is Redefined: Studies have shown that the meaning of success for employees is changing. Employees have started to factor in quality of life and the ability to make a difference into how they define a good place to work. Success is no longer solely about making more money than your peers.

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 Peter Howard.

Peter Howard is the President and CEO of Realtime Robotics. As a CEO, Peter has founded and successfully grown five companies, leading two to IPOs, one to strategic sale, and another to a major technology license. Peter led Realtime Robotics in raising a 31.4m dollars Series A round of funding, landing several important contracts with global 100 firms, and launching its initial product.

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.

“Of course; happy to be chatting with you today. Great question. One experience that really shaped who I am and how I interact with other people was reading the writings of Chuang-Tzu at the age of 14, and periodically since. A friend gave me the book and I was enthralled. For those who are unfamiliar, it’s an ancient philosophical work that helped form the basis for Ch’an and later Zen Buddhism. It covered a great deal about human actions and reactions and how we react differently to similar situations. As I read it, it opened my eyes about the ways we live and work as humans, and really helped shape me into who I am today and how I interact with others.

The second experience took place when I was 21 years old. I was set to get married to my wife. To be approved to transfer to Japan, I needed to complete a 2nd year of Japanese. Through some miracle, I was accepted into Middlebury College’s Japanese course for businesspeople, where they covered a year of material in only 9 weeks. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, and not an experience I’d like to repeat any time soon. But it did teach me perseverance and patience — two traits that have also come in very handy when starting, leading and growing businesses.”

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?

“I have just enough experience to realize that my ability to forecast the future is low. I’m sure no matter what I say, I’ll be dead wrong about what the world of work will actually look like in a decade. Just think back to where the working world was 15 years ago — could anyone have predicted what today’s world looks like? Not a chance.

I do, however, believe that remote work is here to stay. For years, pundits have talked about work-life balance and the importance of it. The current generation grew up hearing these themes discussed, and while their parents may not have been able to make it a reality, they sure are going to give it a shot. The ability to eliminate commutes, not having to stress about juggling time and availability for family, and the ability to work at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home, are benefits that speak volumes to the workforce.

The types of employment that can support remote work should be prepared to make it their reality — as that is where the best and brightest talent will want to be.”

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

“It’s very hard for any leader to future-proof their organization. The world moves too fast, and when real, meaningful change comes along — the kind of change that disrupts the way of doing day-to-day activities — it typically comes so fast and unexpectedly that you need to react in real-time, once you have the relevant information.

And that brings up an important point: keeping an open mind. When changes occur, be willing to reconsider every part of your plan. It’s all about taking the next best step possible based on the new reality. Not every step is prophetic, but as long as enough of them are in the right direction, you’ll be able to adjust to what the world throws at you.

This, by the way, is really how successful entrepreneurs become successful. They often want to retroactively ‘paint backwards,’ saying that they always knew how things would turn out, but that’s just 20:20 hindsight.

One example comes from my own experience as the CEO of Realtime Robotics. When COVID hit, it threw each and every business worldwide for a loop. We decided early on to move forward instead of complaining, openly discussing and coming up with a short term plan, making course corrections to support our team and our business. Eventually, patterns emerge and you can think strategically instead. We looked at our business and saw what was working (and what wasn’t) and realized that remote work and choosing your own pace was good for our team. Recognizing this pattern allowed us to make it the norm early on and set the tone for the following years.

Paying attention, staying open-minded, and being flexible enough to accept situations and adapt to them is the only way to reach something close to future-proof.”

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?

“On one level, the biggest gap will be between remote work and in-office work. Granting employees the flexibility to do their jobs well, as they see fit to do them individually and with their team has already shown benefits, especially at our company. From what I’ve seen, I believe companies need to embrace remote work and flexibility. Period.

The biggest issue outside of that really will be about displacement. Throughout history technology changes workflows and required skill sets, always causing short-term displacements. There are periods, now becoming more and more frequent as technological change accelerates, where displacements come faster than training and redeployment can keep up with. Signs point to us being in the midst of one of those points on the timeline now. The biggest societal gap around work that will need to be addressed in the coming years is how we help those that are displaced to find new roles. Traditionally, this country has been poor at doing so. As automation and autonomous technologies start to play a larger role, it would behoove us as a society to invest more heavily in training and support for those who will be affected.”

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

“I truly believe that working from home will continue to be the way much work is done in the future. We’ve given employees a taste of what working without daily commutes and without juggling family care is like. As employers, we’ve been given a hard and fast lesson that people work differently — and that it can actually be an advantage.

Companies that are trying to tell employees that they have to return to the office and work a set, standard workday are going to pay a high price in terms of turnover. The Great Resignation may continue, as employees know there are jobs out there that can give them the flexibility they want. It would be crazy to ignore the lessons learned from the past few years.”

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?

“Tough question. While working from home works at some level for a much larger swath of jobs than any of us ever thought possible, it obviously doesn’t work for many other jobs, such as almost all factory floor, warehouse and distribution center jobs, retail and restaurant service jobs, construction jobs, etc. It had already become difficult to find, train, and keep employees in these on-site job roles pre-pandemic, and it is getting even harder still. That leads to labor shortages, which lead to supply shortages, which has already contributed to rapidly rising inflation.

I believe societal changes that will help value and support these essential non-remote-able jobs will be necessary. Things like setting minimum wages at levels that support a fully middle class lifestyle, setting the bar at a sustainable level while creating a universal cost base of competition, providing support for child-care for such job holders, implementing universal health care, and similar things will be critical to embrace. Other advanced economies have already shown these programs can stabilize the workforce and increase satisfaction and happiness.”

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

“Well, without going too deep, history is my greatest source of optimism. The general drift throughout recorded history is a trend toward less time spent working, more productivity doing so, and a resulting better life and livelihood. I’m optimistic that long-term we will continue to follow this pattern.”

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?

“Corporate benefit plans have continuously upgraded their offerings in support of mental health over the past two decades, largely for the self-interested reason that an investment of 1 dollar in mental health has a multiplied effect on employees’ physical health and medical expenses. I suspect that we have only scratched the surface there.

As part of our response to the Pandemic remote work new normal, we here at Realtime Robotics have turned toward structured collaboration systems like Agile and Scrum, where there is a high degree of cross-disciplinary, frequent, and structured collaboration to achieve goals. Contrary to what common sense might forecast, we have seen a much greater sense of belonging and teamwork spontaneously grow out of that, in spite of teammates being located around the globe, many of whom have never met each other in person. This, I believe, has also helped buffer the mental and emotional stresses that so many have experienced with pandemic-driven isolation. The teams tend also to look after each other’s workloads and stress levels, all leading to better mental health.

The lesson learned is that there are other critical ways that employers can support employees’ mental health and stress levels. Caring about your employees and doing what you can as an employer and a leader to make their work lives better has many far-reaching benefits.”

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 all have a bit more time and ‘mental space’ to think about the direction of our lives than during the pre-pandemic period of hustle and bustle, where we all were spending time and energy in frustrating commutes. Not surprisingly, many have decided that they’d like to try a new path, perhaps earlier than might have happened before.

Leaders need to simply accept that this is part of a richer human life experience, and both plan for greater turnover and the short term loss of productivity that entails, but also keep the door open for those who may not like their newly chosen path, and return. I believe that talent will gravitate to employers that give them the flexibility to have the work-life balance they want.”

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.)

“I think there are several trends that we’ll see come to fruition in the next few years. We’ve touched upon a couple of them in the previous responses as well:

  1. Remote Work: First off, the idea that remote work is here to stay. Employees have experienced the difference that flexibility makes in their lives, and very few will be clamoring for a full 9–5, 5 day a week return to downtown offices. This will be the defining trend for the future of work for many of us, employees and employers alike.
  2. Automation on the Rise: Automation is another trend that will play an increasingly large role in the future of the workplace. It’s a natural progression, or evolution, if you will, of the work-life balance and the desire to be more productive in less time. Automation technologies are a way for employees to eliminate mundane, repetitive tasks and concentrate on what matters most to the business. Over the course of history, the automation of tasks has optimized how we work. Think of email’s effect on business correspondence, or the Excel program’s ability to change business forecasting and related tasks. Automation has been ongoing for 500 years in producing goods, but is still in its early days in other arenas.
  3. Embracing Self-Service: Self-service is another trend quickly gaining steam in workplaces across the globe. Employees — especially those that have grown up with technology at their fingertips — come into the workplace with the expectation that they will be able to build technological solutions themselves, as needed, to improve how they do their jobs and how they improve customer-facing offerings. In addition, self-service tool adoption is giving employees direct access to a company’s data, so they can analyze it and make better decisions for their role, and the business as a whole.
  4. Success is Redefined: Studies have shown that the meaning of success for employees is changing. Employees have started to factor in quality of life and the ability to make a difference into how they define a good place to work. Success is no longer solely about making more money than your peers.
  5. Employers Become More Flexible: And, as we’re already seeing, companies that cannot offer these elements are having difficulty retaining or attracting talent. The Great Resignation of 2021 will continue, as employees realize their value, and what they want out of a work experience. This, in true circular fashion, will drive employers to offer greater flexibility in order to reach talent. In parallel, those types of jobs that cannot have as much flexibility will embrace automation even more, in order to protect themselves from the whims of labor and to crank up the efficiency of their operations.”

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?

“I’m not a great collector of quotes, and don’t have a favorite one, just occasions when something happens that reminds me of something I’ve heard quoted before.

In terms of pithy life lessons: ‘Be aware that any plan you put in motion has a range of potential outcomes. Consider both the best and the worst outcomes as you consider what is the best plan. Frequently you can make big improvements on the worst outcome without affecting the best outcome at all.’”

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.

“Well, I value my own privacy and that of others too much to request an unsolicited breakfast with someone, but, that said, I had the good fortune to take an international trade and economics course with Paul Krugman, long before he won his Nobel Prize for his work in this field. It was an incredibly eye-opening, lucid explanation of international money, trade, and power flows, and in many ways the highlight of my studies at MIT.

As I have lived, worked, built, and grown companies in many countries over the ensuing decades, I’ve had the chance to see the mechanics he described play out over and over. I’d like him to know how much that short interaction with him enriched my understanding of international policy dynamics, and gave me empathy for those caught in the often unintended consequences.”

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?

“Personally, I’m available on LinkedIn at, and you can stay up to date with what’s going on at Realtime Robotics via our website ( or by following is on Twitter at @realtime_i.”

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