Companies will stop making the business case for diversity, since it makes traditionally marginalized populations feel like the means to an end. Companies will make the moral case instead.

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 Stephen Koepp.

Stephen Koepp, a co-founder and Chief Content Officer of From Day One, is a veteran journalist who has served as executive editor of Time and Fortune, editorial director of Time Inc. Books, and co-writer of a movie about journalism, The Paper. He and his family reside in Brooklyn, NY.

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.

As a young newspaper reporter, I volunteered to report a story on the booming sport of rock climbing, even though I have a serious fear of cliffs and ledges. We arrived at night and slept at the base of the rock wall, so when I woke up, I was terrified. The climb was terrifying, too, but rappelling down was exhilarating. I learned that lots of rewarding things are worth suffering through the anxiety leading up to them. But it isn’t easy.

As an editor and as a father, I have gotten accustomed to knowing that the young, naïve people around me will be exceeding my own skills and running things sooner than I think. This is not just one experience; it keeps happening over and over. So I keep reminding myself to stop and savor the moments spent with them, learning from them, and appreciating their growth when they’ve moved on.

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?

Same: A large part of our workforce will still be focused on moving information around. The people skills of trust, cooperation, and the courage to learn and take risks will be as important as ever. There will be tension between work and well-being.

Different: We will see even more evolution in the processing ability of our technology, adroit approaches to sustainability, and the decentralization of work to where it makes sense. Cities in climate-change durable locations will grow. We’ll see another surge in America’s diversity but not necessarily a commensurate leftward move in politics. Workers will organize in new ways, responding to new structures in businesses. At the moment, workers have gained ground in the power struggle with employers, but a recession could prompt employers to trim back their newfound generosity when it comes to compensation, benefits, and flexible work arrangements.

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

Make investments in your people early and often. Teach them to be their own agents, while being innovative in offering mind-expanding opportunities. Be patient as they climb the learning curve. Celebrate and support their decisions about the important things in life: being a good life partner, raising families, caregiving of all kinds, pursuing physical and intellectual adventures outside of work, and getting involved in their communities.

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?

Both workers and their employers want flexibility of how, where, and when the work is done, as well as how much is demanded of any one worker. The pandemic changed the landscape, but the negotiations will continue. On the part of workers, for example, they want to distribute their work over the course of a workday (or other period of time) to handle the other demands in their lives. Corporate leaders, for their part, have to manage surges of work that needs to get done on a competitive timetable and want workers to accommodate those needs. In a related point of tension, workers will want better, more responsive health care, but the cost will continue to go up, so this dynamic will need to be a point of significant innovation.

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

Corporate leaders tend to want workers in the office, where managers feel they have more control. Their efforts to bring workers back, however, have largely failed because of successive waves of Covid infection and because workers generally prefer working from home most of the time. In a tight labor market, they have the leverage to demand it. Corporate leaders who want to attract more workers to the office will need to be purposeful about the reasons for it. Offices will be redesigned with community and inclusion in mind, for example designing conference rooms to welcome both in-person and remote workers. The things to be accomplished at the office will have to be more than just sitting at a computer.

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?

One of the biggest things the pandemic highlighted was the motherhood penalty. The child-care crisis drove millions of working moms from the workforce, bringing huge career setbacks for them personally and a major drain of talent and experience for employers. The costs of this to our society and economy have been made clear. Companies as well as entrepreneurs have been responding in ways large and small. If the momentum can be sustained, the U.S. might start making serious progress toward meeting the standards of other developed economies in caring for its kids and giving women equitable work opportunities.

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

Besides a greater sense of inclusion, the de-centering work in our lives is a healthy corrective for those who can afford to pursue it. Most of us need to work to sustain ourselves, and we find value in the social experience of work, but it shouldn’t replace religion or spirituality. And it needs to provide some redeeming satisfaction amid all the grunt work, no matter the power level at which a person is toiling. I think that’s a value worth embracing.

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?

For once, all the talk about mental health being having parity with physical health is finally leading to some action in the forms of corporate support for new and significant therapies. For another, corporate leaders are now expressing a mandate that wellness is a core leadership principle, for the mutual good of the enterprise and its people. The top-down emphasis helps liberate a bottom-up expression of needs and ideas.

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?

While workers have largely given up on the idea of being employed at one or two companies for life, they still need to sustain themselves for life–and everyone has an ordinary human need for stability. Since they can’t count on long-term commitments for those things from employers, they have assumed more agency in charting their working lives. They no longer tend to think in terms of linear career paths. Instead, they’re combining a sense of curiosity and self-interest with the modern digital tools and platforms that help them prospect for leads. From the worker point of view, neither companies nor industries are as opaque as they used to be. To my mind, LinkedIn alone is groundbreaking in the sense of providing an endless compendium of role models, career-path examples, and surprising, successful choices that people have made. E.g., a former cop goes on a journey leading to a role as head of diversity for a major hospital corporation.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

  1. Companies will stop making the business case for diversity, since it makes traditionally marginalized populations feel like the means to an end. Companies will make the moral case instead.
  2. Grassroots union organizers have provided a blueprint for decentralized organizing efforts.
  3. Companies aren’t “woke” politically, they’re just struggling to respond to all their demanding stakeholders. Conflicts will abound.
  4. Employers will increasingly focus on employee happiness and engagement, and will struggle to show sincerity and respect for the individual. Not everyone is happy by nature.
  5. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be ubiquitous, from air-traffic control to talent acquisition.

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?

The simple imperative phrase, “Zoom out,” in this case to expand one’s view past the current moment to look at the larger picture, is my favorite one of the moment. This is a useful mantra in the heat of a highly stressful situation or failure, helping to add the perspective of all the things worth being grateful for–and not taking for granted. I got this tip from my brother, who is in show business and knows from experience the need to zoom in and out.

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.

Matt LaFleur, coach of the Green Bay Packers, who is off to the most winning record of a young coach in the NFL, and has to manage Aaron Rodgers, who is a real handful, not to mention the rest of the team.

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?

They can follow me on LinkedIn and check out our website at

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