More organizations will quantify the success of their workforce through metrics associated with customer experience. Metrics will need to be adopted to validate an organization is continuing to evolve how it operates to match consumers’ expectations to meet the speed of convenience.
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 Servaas Verbiest.
As the Lead Cloud Evangelist at Sungard AS, Servaas Verbiest assists businesses and organizations in realizing the full potential of cloud computing by thinking strategically, deploying rapidly, and acting as an ambassador for the cloud ecosystem. While at Sungard AS, Servaas has worked with more than 1,000 unique clients across multiple industries on complex application deployments, re-platforming, public cloud integrations, private cloud deployments, application lifecycle, and hybrid cloud model development.
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 shaped who you are today?
During my sophomore year of high school, our football team was the worst in school history. Every game was grueling — we were outclassed, outcoached, and outworked. When we finished the season with a record of 0–10, a core group of the remaining players from the team agreed we’d never go 0–10 again. We banded together and began to push ourselves to work harder. The following year we had a 4–6 record, and my senior year ended up going 3–7. We weren’t 0–10, but we weren’t a winning team either. The issue was, while we worked harder, we never changed our strategy or looked at how we could use our talent better. I learned that hard work alone is not enough to succeed; you need to adapt your strategy and use your resources to what the situation calls for if you want to win.
My first internship was with a private security company that handled event staff operations for various NASCAR tracks around the country. 99.99% of the company’s management team consisted of military personnel who had transitioned to civilian life, so their motto was “details save lives.” The first race I supported included management and personnel positioning. My responsibilities were split with another intern. Having someone to share the responsibility load with was essential to ensure that breaks, incident responses, and personnel shifts could be executed properly. However, when we got to race day, my counterpart was a no-call no-show, a risk that was not accounted for in our plans. This was race day; it was nationally televised, we had our largest staff, and the stands and infield would be at maximum capacity. I was handed a clipboard and told to “figure it out.” Not being sure if it was the company’s faith in me or not having another option, I leaned into the plan and attempted to run the track with no race day experience. There were small issues, but the preparation and attention to detail before the race gave me what was needed to prevent significant problems. I was able to adapt my plan and make calls based on what was happening in the field. I learned that it’s possible to be successful when things don’t go as planned if you have a good plan in place, have the tools to succeed, are empowered to make decisions when it matters, and have the desire to execute.
What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce, and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you expect will be different?
Ten to fifteen years is a long time from now, and a lot can change. If things stay the course we are currently going, I can see a nonconventional workweek supported by hybrid work conditions being the expectation and not the exception. This shift will take place because employees familiar with an in-office environment will be retiring or transitioning out of the active workforce and those familiar with hybrid or remote work will make up the majority, plus the market will continue to match the speed of convenience, meaning more things will be consumed remotely and operating hours may change to meet demands.
I can also see more laws being put into place to help set guidelines for conducting work in a hybrid or remote environment.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Work to consider how you can leverage a hybrid model that can support the needs of your projects and environment and try not to force your organization to work in a way that is radically different too fast. I realize that is much easier to say than do, but if you can do it right, you will have managed to catch lightning in a bottle.
What do you predict the most significant gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you suggest about how to reconcile those gaps?
I think the most significant gaps will come in the form of agreed-upon working hours, the location of where a remote worker can be, and compensation and expense policies. To help with this, set company-wide policies that set proper expectations on availability and accessibility that management can use as a guideline for how and where people can work. Allow for flexibility during tasks and procedures that are not critical or time-sensitive and apply more rigid policies for a mission-critical task. Compensation and expense policies are the trickier ones to solve for. While I don’t think there are perfect solutions, the best recommendation I can offer is to be upfront with the policies and be consistent with them.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
Organizations were forced to adopt a hybrid workforce and embrace cloud technology under pressure. 2022 onward will be the start of exploring more effective options as cloud is now an essential component of operations in the Post Day Zero pandemic era.
What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?
The focus needs to shift away from the location of employees and a need for brick-and-mortar locations to outcome-based work tied to critical metrics associated with execution, logistics, and consumer satisfaction. Employees will also have to learn to balance work and out of work-life and there will have to be changes to labor laws regarding employees’ accessibility to help with the mental strain and stress of having work available wherever you are.
What is your most significant source of optimism about the future of work?
We are starting to see the innovation around supporting smarter execution and lowering the complexities of having a distributed workforce. Reducing the barriers to entry will allow for more organizations to embrace this model.
Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we believe the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?
Being overworked impacts productivity and can diminish returns. Establishing programs, support plans, and incentives to maintain a healthy balance of work and out-of-work life will be pivotal. Some organizations are looking at distributing work to maintain an optimal workload and ensuring that service level agreements around tasks are established that help set health expectations around execution. Businesses are also looking to provide resources to their employees, like access to mental health professionals who aid in finding that balance and acting as a barometer for the business for their workforces’ wellbeing.
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?
Three main things:
- Investing in your greatest resource — people — is key to success. Tools and technology are great, but people are the greatest resource you have.
- Talented people are easy to find for the right price, but they are very hard to maintain in a market that allows for so many options for employment. If you find a talented person who aligns with your organization, hold on as tightly as you can because it could cost you more to find someone just as good.
- Money is important, but people learn that a great job and career is made up of more than that. Ensure that the employee experience you offer includes good work-life balance, career progression, professional development, and recognition.
What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- The composition of an organization’s workforce may adopt a similar model to how businesses consume and financially structure cloud resources. You only use what you need and pay for what you use. So, when using a cloud, you can use a pay-as-you-go for projects or tasks that you don’t need all the time and commit to resources that support things that will always be running to get better rates in exchange for guaranteed billing. Personnel can be managed similarly (e.g., using freelancers for specific projects).
- The job prerequisites will have a stronger emphasis on skills and less experience. The reality of the world we live in is that skills are required to accomplish a task and the pace at which the market and technology evolves has created an environment where a lot of experience doesn’t guarantee that those lessons will provide as much value as they once have.
- Service level agreements (SLAs) may make their way into business units not explicitly tied to technology. The workplace will often adopt concepts and components presented to general consumers to provide a better experience and maintain a competitive edge. We are consuming more services that have SLAs that set expectations on when and how things can be consumed, and they will continue to set proper expectations. As work and the ability to work anywhere become more accessible, this will be the easiest way to set expectations and accountability for how people work and what their employers will provide to support them because they are already familiar with the model.
- More organizations will quantify the success of their workforce through metrics associated with customer experience. Metrics will need to be adopted to validate an organization is continuing to evolve how it operates to match consumers’ expectations to meet the speed of convenience.
- Interviews between employees and employers will change due to market conditions and the availability or need for specific skill sets. With so many employment options available, it can be hard to find good talent today and why you see phenomena like the great resignation. Many people are looking for work that allows for flexibility and freedoms that allow for a good work-life balance or a business that has a culture and mission that they believe in and these abstract requirements have become a key consideration for taking a job.
What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?
Push past your limits. I try to make myself uncomfortable at least once a day by diving into tasks and topics I need more experience with. This has forced me to develop and polish my skills and abilities quickly to tackle any challenge that comes my way with little to no hesitation with a high rate of success.
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.
Jocko Willink because I am a HUGE fan of his books and podcast. His book “Extreme Ownership” has helped me handle many professional and personal trials and tribulations efficiently with a high success rate.
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.