Learning Flexibility — will drive employee well-being and promotion through encouraging specific learning to enhance job performance.
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 Travis Foster.
Travis Foster is the Chief Legal Officer at Work Shield and is known to be something of a jack of all trades — he is an experienced entrepreneur, as well as an attorney with a mechanical engineering background who designed and managed projects in both the energy and public utilities industries. Travis also contributes his wealth of capital knowledge and growth strategies for businesses to the Work Shield team.
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.
Growing up in a small Louisiana town, life wasn’t filled with many distractions and, as such, I was encouraged to explore my natural sense of curiosity. My affinity for science and math gave me a sense of comfort in knowing that “there is an answer”. No guess work. I gained confidence after completely flubbing my engineering internship end of summer presentation. Having never done anything remotely close to it, I was overwhelmed by the moment and could barely speak. In sharing the experience with my dad, he told me to always remember that a presentation can still be a “conversation”. The attendees are there to learn and you’re there to share. I never forgot that. It has also guided me in transaction negotiations as legal counsel.
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 strongest indicators suggest that the hybrid workplace is here to stay. Employers will be able to recruit and retain top talent by providing the “best of both worlds” through workers being able to choose their workplace locations rather than being forced into a rigid structure. Future “workplaces” will differ from today’s by way of the incorporation of AI-enhanced environments that will be used to retain the “in-person” feel of workers’ physical interaction. This type of interface will see the facilitation of fulfillment services being completed by robotic intelligence.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Where possible, present workers the option of a hybrid-schedule. This prevents burnout and increases productivity. Also, ensure that workers are provided access to technology that allows them to connect at through a central platform or point of communication.
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?
One of the more significant gaps exists between an employer’s expectation of the degree of daily touch points with a remote worker versus that worker’s definition of the same. Many times, employers are weary of remote workers given the perceived lack of “immediate” interface when an incident arises. I believe this is why the adoption of AI-augmented workplace environments will become more prevalent.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
It will continue to be challenging to employers who perceive a lack of “connectivity” or “creativity” with the lack of workers not being able to interact within the same physical space. Workers with small children or who have a substantial commute see the practicality of working from home and have overwhelmingly welcomed this structure. The hybrid workplace solves this tension.
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?
Society will need to focus on leaning more on the science associated with these matters and the treatment strategies mapped to address them.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
Through observing the restructuring of the workplace environment, I am optimistic that employers will continue to respond to employee concerns. When an employee’s voice is heard, the workplace automatically “wins” because these aggregated voices tend to root out the toxicity that can substantially impact culture.
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?
Covid upended the workforce to a degree which hadn’t been seen in modern times. Through this, employers discovered that decentralizing workplaces and instead offering hybrid structures provided impactful choice to their populations.
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?
Leaders need to understand that the 2020 lockdowns provided an opportunity for workers and their families to evaluate what was critical to their fulfillment and happiness. This “awakening” began an assessment that shifted the importance of work-life balance. The results of these considerations continue to drive the importance of encouraging employees to express their needs and to find solutions that are mutually beneficial.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Hybrid Workplace — decentralizing workplaces will continue to drive productivity and efficiency.
2. AI-Enhanced Environments — will be used to maintain the “in person” feel of employee physical interaction.
3. Skills Driven Workforce — will continue to “flatten” their structures to elevate employee skills in lieu of title-driven structures.
4. Performance Analytics — will monitor remote and hybrid workforces through incorporating performance analytics and HR technology.
5. Learning Flexibility — will drive employee well-being and promotion through encouraging specific learning to enhance job performance.
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?
Although I didn’t understand it until much later, my mother would also say “If common sense were common, there wouldn’t be a special name for it. It would just be called ‘sense’”. I came to understand that what she meant was there is something special about “common sense” and not everyone applies it. Many times, the most impactful solution is derived from a “common sense” approach. Employees are often the best at getting to the heart of the problem through very practical observations.
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.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson. His evolution and business savvy are off the charts. I had the opportunity to briefly meet him, and I was most impressed with his ability to connect. He seems to handle all of it with such grace. I would be most interested in his perspective on evaluating business opportunities and assembling the team(s) to best pursue them.
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?
Through LinkedIn and the articles and information Work Shield publishes there. We also continue to add to our blog where you can find a variety of topics that speak to empowering employee voices to speak up to improve their workplace environments.
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 for the opportunity to connect and share what we’re seeing from our corner of the marketplace!