Having diversity of people within the organization regarding ethnicities, genders, religions, nationalities, and so on, guarantee different thoughts and opinions in the way each team member sees the world, therefore how they see solutions. For example, start by reviewing your hiring strategy, especially now that hybrid and remote hiring is making it possible to be more open, inclusive, and allow people to apply to roles from more locations and time zones. Training for the recruiting team and business leaders who are hiring are also examples of how bringing this diversity to companies becomes relevant.

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 Srividya Gopani.

Srividya Gopani, Co-founder, Chief Marketing and Product Officer.

Srividya has over sixteen years of experience working in marketing with business and product teams across geographies. She started her career at Intel, followed by a stint at Directi, and went on to work at LinkedIn for a decade, leading the brand in key regions in Asia. Today, driven by her passion for technology, she has embarked on her own path by co-founding Interviewer.AI.

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?

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this conversation. I have been living in India and had the good fortune of working with global teams, being where I am, especially in the technology space. I can share two specific experiences, one professional and one personal, to answer your question. In the professional context, I started my career with Intel and it was in B2B tech marketing, focused on trade and retail. That early experience took me to three different parts of India (outside of my city and India is a big country) with diverse language and cultural nuances that come into marketing, sales or business in general. Those early 3 years rooted me in customer focus, being technologically sound and being challenged to be better at it as a marketer and adapting to different markets very early on. Things change quickly and one must adapt.

Secondly, in the personal context, I became a mother five years ago and that has definitely shaped the way I think about managing work and life. It does bring more calm and clarity into work as well, because those are forced skills you learn as a parent.

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 workplace has changed dramatically in the last two years, and I believe that there is more to come in this matter. Technological adoption is much faster in how we work with the skilled workforce, freelancers, consultant community etc., and we are already looking at our organizational structures differently. With the Great Resignation, this reality is turning into how the workforce in general has changed its priorities. In a decade from now, this will be the norm where skills will play a huge role far more than the organization that you work for. Companies will invest in how they run global, remote teams. Opportunities and benefits will increase for those companies who are investing in that already They will reap the benefits of that in the future in how they attract talent, for example. The social, economic and environmental benefits of remote work and that culture will accelerate in the next five years. In my view, the pressure on top cities in each country will reduce, allowing talent to flourish where they are. What we see now in the tech sector will expand and go beyond early adopters in 10–15 years, and it is how work should be.

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

With the changes brought on by the pandemic, many people are looking for jobs that offer a better work-life balance. In particular, they are gravitating towards hybrid and remote working models. Not all organizations are ready across sectors for this change, but going back to how workplaces were in 2019 is an unrealistic expectation. Organizations that are ready to invest in technology, training, and processes to manage this change over the next 5 to 10 years will be successful. It does mean re-evaluating how you look at HR tech, employer branding and even organizational structures. Forbes is now estimating that half of the workforce will be remote by the end of 2022. It is important to aim for the flexibility, inclusion, belonging, and diversity of employees in the new remote/hybrid workforce. It takes extra effort and extra investment, but inclusion and belonging for both remote and in-person employees will pay off.

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?

The key for employers and employees going forward is defining what flexible work, hybrid, and remote work are This is here to stay. Without a policy or clear organizational processes, which may not always be ready yet, this becomes a challenge. This is true for hiring, onboarding, and employee engagement. A couple of ways to think about it: 1) Rethink your hiring strategy and how you are hiring for teams that are hybrid and remote in nature. Evaluate how you are testing for those skills and how technology can help that narrative 2) Onboarding and availability of resources and managing a remote workforce is a different strategy and your leaders need to be equipped for it 3) Building workplace engagement is key, even if the office is hybrid and remote. Flex doesn’t mean 24X7 access to your employees but how to build that culture is key

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

Technology has advanced so much that we haven’t thought twice in certain functions and industries about how we will be productive whilst working from home. In fact, there were more surveys that said people said they were more productive from home, given that they could manage their time better, commute time reduced and could focus more on living a far more fulfilling life. Future of work is right somewhere at the end of that experiment because organizations did re-open, close and re-open during the course of the past year. Companies lost talent in cases where they weren’t flexible enough. I think the success lies in finding a balance between both worlds, understanding what needs an in-person or physical set-up and what can be done from home. The cost-benefit analysis for this is crucial for organizations to be really successful in a longer term.

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?

From BBC’s article, it touches upon various aspects of how society is evolving in front of us. There are aspects of how companies can become “virtual first” and that would be an evolution, once you realize there isn’t a drop in productivity. There is a growing concern about equality and challenges women face if this continues. Women account for half of all entry-level employees, yet they compose only a third of senior managers and a fifth of C-suite executives. One of the reasons women have a harder time advancing professionally is that they are much more likely than men to prioritize their family responsibilities over their careers. This could work in favor of more women continuing to stay in the workforce, if they are given more flexibility and opportunity to continue. It is beneficial for any economy to have more people who continue in the workforce and making that happen is across the board — teams, leaders, organizations, governments etc. This present idea of the future of work is largely positive, because it feels equitable in how we hire, engage and continue. But that needs to be worked on, and invested in.

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

I am fascinated by the tremendous talent and opportunity that companies like ours have experienced on both fronts. As a business, we can see how companies are adopting new hiring strategies, hiring across the globe, and having never even met candidates in person. Using video interviewing software, they disrupt their hiring and pre-screening processes and reduce the time to hire significantly.

Secondly, as a business that is using technology for our own business, I am extremely optimistic about the talent and the freelancer community and their impact on business. Our ability to work with diverse talent across functions is immense and without having full-time resources, we are still able to accomplish so much more as a startup. There is a working model of business relationships, trust and skills that is helping this narrative.

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?

Creating a workplace where people can thrive by nurturing good mental and physical health should be a priority. Thinking about mental health should be beyond the individual level, but as a team. Mental health is typically viewed at the individual level, with challenges stemming from each person’s unique circumstances. That’s too limiting a view when thinking about mental health in the workplace, says Leah Weiss, who teaches compassionate leadership at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and is a co-founder of Skylyte, a consultancy focused on the health and productivity of hybrid teams. Surveys help, but they should be followed up with action.

Building support around employees taking time off is possible if the organization supports that for the team. Other strategies Accenture has undertaken in recent years include sharing stories, and data, about leaders in the organization who have faced mental health challenges, as well as helping people to set boundaries and create new patterns of work.

Creating spaces and access for mental health support, employee support & resource groups are active strategies that companies have adopted. Overall, better and effective employee communication is a key foundation for companies, in these times.

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?

  • Diverse workplaces are a driver for innovation within the company.

Having diversity of people within the organization regarding ethnicities, genders, religions, nationalities, and so on, guarantee different thoughts and opinions in the way each team member sees the world, therefore how they see solutions. For example, start by reviewing your hiring strategy, especially now that hybrid and remote hiring is making it possible to be more open, inclusive, and allow people to apply to roles from more locations and time zones. Training for the recruiting team and business leaders who are hiring are also examples of how bringing this diversity to companies becomes relevant.

  • The great resignation is real, and companies must be prepared to mitigate job quitting.

Currently employers, in their majority, are not quitting their jobs for a higher salary, they’re shifting to new workplaces that can guarantee them not economic benefits, but benefits that make them feel more comfortable, appreciated, and human. The last two years have given companies enough to rethink and analyze how they want to manage their workforce. It becomes important to be aware through consistent, regular employee voice surveys to get the real pulse. Also, how can they be brought into action for real implementation, find out what matters for employees to be productive.

  • Gen Z’s are getting into the workforce, what are you going to do?

Employers will need to reshape labor standards in less than three years when Gen Zers will account for 27% of the global workforce. Personal well-being and work-life balance will become more top of mind. Understanding how generational changes are impacting the workforce is also a key part of the employer brand. It goes back to what you highlight as part of the hiring strategy, how do you run effective teams and also, highlight the benefits to your hiring teams. Being more open about hybrid work cultures and understanding the impact would be a good place to embrace this.

  • AI is here to help HR teams, not to take their jobs.

A.I. is the unbiased development of what we as humans have learned about ourselves, that helps us live and work better. 56% of the companies in emerging economies ensure they have improved their relationship with A.I. during 2021 by adopting at least one function, especially in the service-operation optimization cases like recruitment and hiring in HR areas. AI is another tool, especially when you look at examples of prescreening and allowing more than the resume to make that hiring decision. This actually helps the HR team, and not replace the teams that take it further from that step.

  • The Blockchain will make inroads in HR.

The benefits offered by this technology will not only be applied to the economic industry, but to the HR teams, transparency and shared information are some drivers that recruiters might be attracted to when hiring, for that CVs in Blockchain will be an ally. As it becomes more accessible, it can impact the recruitment process, talent pools, background checks, employment history, engaging contract workers with smart contracts, maintaining employees’ personal data and so much more.

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?

A forever favorite is “Don’t panic” by Douglas Adams, which applies to everything in general. “Impatience with actions, patience with results.” I think that’s a good philosophy for life which is one of many Naval’s quotes that I list very high. I think these help to evaluate how we make life choices and also, how I think about long-term work. Building that into your work and life helps you make better decisions.

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 would be extremely nervous if that happened but I would love to ask Naval Ravikant about his many philosophies on work and life.

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 am active on Twitter @SrividyaR and you can also find me on LinkedIn. It has been wonderful to think about the questions in this interview and I continue to read about the future of work as it is such a vast topic.

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