New companies solving new problems. There will be many companies that emerge in the Future of Work space. We spend $200B+ on office rent each year — that spending will be reallocated to companies like Marco (shameless plug) that are enabling more flexible work while not sacrificing culture.

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 Suman Siva.

Suman Siva is the CEO and co-founder of Marco Experiences. He started off his career as a consultant at Bain and Co., and joined an early-stage startup called Scoop, prior to shifting to investing roles at a consumer growth fund and SoftBank’s Vision Fund’s Consumer Internet team. He is passionate about marketplaces, the future of work, and the creator economy.

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.

A time from high school — I grew up in North Carolina as the son of two amazing parents who immigrated from India. Growing up in high school with so little diversity was challenging — I’ll always remember when I decided I’d break out of my comfort zone during junior year of high school. My twin brother and I decided that instead of sitting in the cafeteria by ourselves, while the more social kids sat in the “quad”, we’d join them. We spent the next few months feeling awkward and attempting to make friends. This strategy eventually worked, and it changed my social life both in high school and until this point. It taught me two lessons: 1) Take the first step even if it’s uncomfortable and 2) People might fear what (or who) they don’t know, but eventually everyone is a human and can relate to one another.

A time from a few years ago — The decision to leave SoftBank was the largest professional decision I’ve made. All my life I’d been hardwired to think that there was a certain path I needed to follow to find “success.” After doing several jobs that were on paper great, but still not finding satisfaction, I realized that I needed to make a change. Taking the leap from a safe “good” job to having no income, no team, and no clear path, to building a company was the most difficult, but also most rewarding choice and life experience. It’s also still ongoing, so the jury’s still out!

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 same: The need to compete and stand out in the workforce will continue to be the same, and may become greater as jobs become more competitive and information becomes more democratized. Technology will continue to take share from other industries and be the most dynamic industry.

Different: The concept of having to go to a prestigious university and work in a job with a defined career path (e.g. finance) will fade. Jobs will become more global, and workers will be able to live and work wherever they choose. There will be a whole new class of workers created that are able to successfully monetize their creativity and their crafts — we’re at the beginning stages of the creator economy.

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

Invest in your employees and reward their entrepreneurialism and creativity. Experience does not always beget success — looking to younger generations to bring a fresh perspective will prepare you for the future.

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?

Employers continue to not understand the true motivations of employees. McKinsey wrote a great piece called “The Great Attrition of the Great Attraction” which quantifies the differences between employer vs. employee expectations. While employers believe that the biggest reasons employees leave jobs center around compensation (of course very important), they tend to be around not feeling a sense of belonging and connection. This is central to what we’re trying to solve at Marco. You spend too much time at work not to feel connected to and inspired by your coworkers.

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

The future of the way we work and live has been forever reset. I believe the future is one of greater flexibility, but also one where creative solutions exist to build the connectedness that is essential to create generational companies. Almost all the leaders we talk to daily describe a future of hybrid work. But hybrid work remains undefined. The reason you had an office (work from office) was to get everyone in a place to interact with one another. Now, we don’t have to hire people that live within a 7-mile radius from a home office. We do need to continue to invest in the employee experience, and now in creative ways.

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 believe the societal changes we’ll see will be positive. We’ll change our perspective of a “9 to 5” and instead favor a more flexible work — life schedule that is suited to the employees. Have a child that you need to take to the doctor during the day? No problem. Want to ski for a few hours in the morning and catch up with work over the weekend? Sure. Without the need to be in an office every day, so long as employers and employees trust each other, life will become better. We’ll also spend substantially less time commuting to work, and more time with the people we care about. All of these changes will require us to be able to build and maintain trust with the employees we hire.

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

The silver lining of COVID for me has been living the future of work. I’ve spent months in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and raised our seed round while in a hacienda in Morelos, Mexico. I’ve been more productive than ever, and been able to explore the world like never before. Now, when I travel to see friends and family, I do it for weeks and not a weekend. I believe the future is bright and I am a huge optimist!

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?

One of the largest reasons mental health and wellbeing has been challenged isn’t necessarily because of the future of work, but more so because we’ve been living through multiple waves of a pandemic that no one knew would end. As COVID becomes an endemic, the stressors will partially dissipate. We’ll still have to invest heavily in mental health at companies to ensure that we minimize burnout and maximize happiness. That requires everything from mental health programming to greater trust in employees that limits their stress.

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?

The most important lesson is that the past two years have allowed employees to take a hard look at what brings them joy and make decisions accordingly. Leaders need to invest heavily into understanding their employees and evaluate what defines their cultures. It’s clear that money alone does not solve the problem; being more human and allowing employees to bring their whole selves to work is the solution.

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

  1. The demise of a singular company “HQ”. Companies will no longer have one central HQ, with all employees living near that HQ. The benefit of attracting global talent is too great to ignore. Offices will exist, but there will be more hubs across the globe, and less massive Google multiplexes.
  2. The clarification of hybrid work. Hybrid work is a nebulous phrase that will begin to take shape. There will be different flavors of how companies approach hybrid work (e.g. 2–3 days in-office) that companies will have to define. Employees might make choices on where they want to work based on these definitions.
  3. The rise of company retreats. We will still want to get together with full companies if possible. To fulfill this desire, company retreats will become an opportunity to socialize and do creative work with our team members.
  4. The redefinition of business travel. Business travel will be redefined. Functions that may used to not travel as much (e.g. engineering) will travel to meet and do product jam sessions. The need to travel to a city will disappear given how much more video meetings are.
  5. New companies solving new problems. There will be many companies that emerge in the Future of Work space. We spend $200B+ on office rent each year — that spending will be reallocated to companies like Marco (shameless plug) that are enabling more flexible work while not sacrificing culture.

See our Future of Culture E-book for more trends and data!

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?

“We are all works in progress pretending to be finished.”

I don’t know who to credit this quote to, but it stuck with me and I wrote it down. When I was leaving a comfortable well-paying job to pursue entrepreneurship, I questioned whether I had the ability to build something from scratch — a product and a team, during every step along the way.

When I was younger I thought people in positions of power had things figured out. When I was in school, it was teachers. When I got older, it was political and business leaders. What I’ve realized is that no one has everything figured out in their personal and professional lives. We’re all just trying to figure it out as we get through life, and what matters most is that we treat every moment as a learning moment.

This philosophy has changed my view of “imposter syndrome” at work, and also helped me continue to improve myself as a person.

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.

This isn’t the most creative, but the obvious answer is Elon Musk. Not only is he a polymath, a business and technology genius that has created multiple companies in areas no one before him thought were possible, but he’s one of the most creative and shamelessly-himself entrepreneurs ever. His Twitter also provides daily entertainment and provides more value than $100M+ marketing budgets of competing companies.

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?

@Sumansiva — Twitter

Or shoot me an email at [email protected]!

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