More layoffs may follow. As automation and technology evolves, a certain percentage of roles not completely reliant on humans may be eliminated. Some roles may merge into a greater role that can be worked by qualified candidates earning respectable pay and benefits.
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 Sasha Laghonh.
Sasha is the Founder of Sasha Talks, an educational and entertainment platform that integrates self & professional development into nurturing meaningful outcomes. As a speaker, mentor and author, she partners alongside clients, from individuals to organizations, to capitalize upon their talent. Through her work as a strategist, speaker, and author Sasha strives to make a real difference to every aspect of her clients’ goals. Learn more at www.sashatalks.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’ve had the privilege of working alongside some very good souls who taught me how to effectively take care of myself before others if I want to be of service long term. One Executive came into my life when I was entertaining professional growing pains and I was in need of an authentic coach who can guide me with their unfiltered feedback. He was able to lead me into the field of clarity where I could make decisions from a place of confidence even during times of uncertainty. He was an intimidating figure to many that crossed paths with him. I found it humorous because he had a sense of humor and a soft heart which he didn’t wear on his sleeve. He served as a guide who offered sage advice that can only help the person wanting to receive it. A rare person who isn’t there to manipulate your decision making process to serve their needs. He made it clear, “happy and healthy can only come from you”. Another Executive I had met during my time at a Sales Organization recognized my ability to multi-task and work efficiently that he immediately told me, “I know you’re not mine forever to keep.” He was wise to leverage my abilities at work instead of anticipating when I would outgrow my opportunity and leave. He took pride in recognizing talent by making the best of opportunities in front of him. I viewed him as a confident person who understood to focus on the present by not impeding other peoples’ organic growth. He’s now managing a billion dollar organization thanks to his keen insights on understanding people well.
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 future of the workforce will be contingent upon the industries and the roles people work in the market. Pre-pandemic some organizations, regardless of industry, were adverse to remote work arrangements. Some were hybrid and others were remote as part of their organizational identity. In the short term, it’s possible the market performance may dictate to what degree companies are willing to invest in real estate and how they want to reintegrate the workforce into creative work models. I’ve seen certain companies change their model moving forward by going remote for good, then there are hybrid models that will continue, some are bringing all their people back and the remaining are in the “wait and see” mode. About a decade out, due to more automation and AI, it’s possible the ‘remote to hybrid to live’ office ratio will greatly shift. I think it’s too ideal to have a 70% remote and 30% live model even later in time unless companies are able to refine their operational model that doesn’t impact their performance, sales, ROI and relationships with end consumers. I believe it’s too soon to forecast 10–15 years out, although I believe the next 36 months should provide sufficient data to assess what a decade later looks like. It’s become clear workers need to be engaged and need to remain relevant for their roles to exist. It was always that way. People understand this better now. Most companies lack financial buffers to avoid carrying such overhead that can be invested elsewhere (other than personnel and real estate, i.e.); especially if the needed roles can be performed by qualified employees remotely at an attractive price point.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Nothing is guaranteed in life. If people didn’t learn anything in the workforce from the pandemic, then they’ve been sleeping! I want employers to authentically assess what the nature of their business means and whether they are willing to develop it into a hub that attracts the right people to work there for the right reasons. The Wellness theme had become a forefront selling point for companies prior to the pandemic. Companies were selling themselves to care about their employees while offering sensible flexible means of working and this didn’t always mean remote options. Those who offered ‘lip service’ to look good obviously lost what matters most — people. Employers need to understand the job market is very critical of companies as much as they are screening for the best candidates. The best candidates know what they need and want for themselves at given milestones of their life and professional career. Employers shouldn’t fear the shortage of workers unless they are awful in their business and personnel operations. Figure out what roles you need and why. Don’t blindly hire people only to set them up to fail. Build your nucleus by hiring smart minds with high EQ, low ego, good souls and those that are hungry to perform. Anyone can task, great people get paid to perform and produce. Also employers shouldn’t sell themselves short by bringing their insecurities to the table. Work on your company mission, the culture and find a way for ALL contributors of your organization to have a vested stake for success.
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?
It’s speculation because this will vary by industries that will continue thriving and those that will struggle a bit to rebound from the last two years. Employers need to perceive workers as human beings, or they will lose their competitive edge among other companies willing to go the extra mile to provide a healthy, balanced and respectful environment. Don’t keep up with the neighbors. Companies that do that without earning their resources to invest in employees go bankrupt. People are your greatest asset. Treat them well. Good people want to be around good people. They can likely find the perks that employer 1 is offering at another place of employment too. It takes a lot of intentful effort to become a great place for people wanting to work. Managerial and strategic effort speaks volumes because it cascades down to the staff. Make sure the management and leadership is relevant with the times. Someone who hasn’t looked out the window for 30 years wouldn’t make an ideal Leader of Change. On the other hand, employees should be flexible for what is being offered in the market and remain inquisitive professionally to develop themselves . I often tell those job hunting candidates, “there’s someone for everyone”. If you have the luxury of patience and resources, apply to as many roles that resonate with you. Remember, some things that look great in print do not translate well in reality and vice versa. Keep an open mind without compromising what you are seeking as long as you are sensible. Some candidates host unrealistic demands because their minds are deluded by visual and auditory mediums that present stories of success without disclosing the investment required to earn one’s merit.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
Remote work will continue likely through 2022; at the same time prominent organizations have already resumed hybrid models in major metropolitan job markets. Working from Home has served as a form of education and experience for those who were new to it while it helped those acquainted with it discover new ways to optimally manage time, resources and performance. In a remote world, one’s performance is typically dictated by delivery and not the optics of people “looking busy” when in a traditional office setup. There was more emphasis on quality engagement, team work, organization, time management and learning how to create & respect boundaries when limited cues exist to let peers know you’re ready to conduct business day to day. No one was waiting to kick off a meeting by waiting in a physical conference room. Perhaps a small population was while many were adjusting to noises, distractions and uncontrollable life circumstances dictating their personal space and personal time.
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?
I’ve learned early on that no matter how you do the math, the answer is “people”. People build organizations, people nurture these organizations, and people work with people. Now it’s about whether companies should care about implementing resources and programs that focus on one’s well being. They need to understand healthy people are healthy performers that make up a healthy workplace which shines through organizational market performance and corporate culture. There are too many toxic workplaces to count that were enabled for too long without any social and legal penalties resulting in some companies waking up to large sirens going off. Surprise! It’s time to address the pink elephant in the room before the people leave the room and decide not to return — ever.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
People are granted the privilege to work with flexibility that allows them to be their best self in mind, spirit and body. There still are standards and performance expectations to meet to continue such privilege. If people can apply themselves mindfully then it’s a win-win scenario. They need to positively contribute to make these remote, hybrid and alternative models functional for long term business operations.
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?
There are organizations that are investing in mental health & wellness resources from paying for health & wellness apps (which include mental health resources and therapy sessions) to providing access to hotlines for those who need attention from stress management to possibly serious concerns. Also there are companies that are offering supplemental mental health insurance that covers a more generous portion of services that traditional insurance may overlook. We have to credit companies and their leadership for exploring and learning about the mental health space. Without health, we have nothing. This also includes our mind. People can take advantage of these resources to learn how to take better care of themselves. While not everyone has access to this as a standard benefit, the tide is slowly changing in how Human Resources and People Teams in the market are bringing healthy change with integrity.
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?
Read the headlines and stories only for situational awareness. I recommend not getting too emotionally entrenched in some of the exaggerations the media loves to infuse in their stories for what I call “clicks and clacks”. It is true, to a certain degree, that visual shifts have occurred in the job markets. We also have to remain open to learn how the market will auto correct a few years from now. People love to hoot and howl until they are asked to invest in themselves, or others in the job market. It’s about the money; at the same time it’s not. It’s a double-edged sword. Executives should remain confident in what they are offering to their existing and upcoming employees. If there’s no confidence, then start working on it. Instead of speculating what will happen, they should have a transparent conversation with the audience they serve. Hiding behind organizational surveys isn’t always the best solution because it’s cowardly (depending on the context) to evade human interaction to discuss these evolving topics. When change is announced, most people ask themselves “how does this impact me?”. Most people operate from a place of survival mode and self preservation. Executives can bridge that gap by making themselves available to talk. If you don’t create the time to relate to your staff then you deserve the outcome that may ensue when people find better workplaces to invest their professional skills. It’s important to celebrate the good times together as well as bond over the uncertain times.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- Companies Transitioning to 100% Remote. It will be interesting to see how many companies don’t look back to hybrid or live office arrangements.
- About 2/3 of live operating entities adopt a hybrid model. Some organizations have acquired a perspective on the pros and cons of remote working. Based on their experience and needs of the business, a hybrid model may align with their financial budgets and productivity metrics.
- Companies explore more competitive non-monetary benefits and perks for recruiting job candidates. It will be interesting to see what companies have learned about their staff during the pandemic and whether they will resume or start investing in better employee initiatives.
- More layoffs may follow. As automation and technology evolves, a certain percentage of roles not completely reliant on humans may be eliminated. Some roles may merge into a greater role that can be worked by qualified candidates earning respectable pay and benefits.
- Companies start to pay employees in forms other than cash. Some organizations are ahead of the learning curve by investing in currencies that are not mainstream. Employees can decide how they want to be compensated for their work outside of cash and equity, excluding other employee benefits.
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?
“In life you need either inspiration or desperation.” — Tony Robbins
It reminds me that time is of essence and tomorrow is not promised to no one. Create goals and start working to manifest them. If you don’t know what to do, don’t wait for the world to call your name. Start somewhere, be earnest in your work and the rest will start falling into place. Unfortunately in life, too many people wait until they are desperate to make positive changes in their path. It’s even better if you can grow into a person that can inspire others to live their best life.
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.
I call him my entrepreneurial crush, Sir Richard Branson. I love how he’s remained true to himself while building a brand that people love. The moment I experienced the Virgin products and services, I was won over by their customer service.
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?
All are welcome to drop a line by visiting the sashatalks.com contact page. If you’re kind, please let me know which book I should read next! Thank you!
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.
Thank you to all of you! I enjoyed working on this. 🙂