The Future of Work is Flexible

The 9-5 is out, and it has been outdated for a long time

The future of work series is based on the insights from my quantitative and qualitative research with ideas to think about your organization and a toolkit to take action on as a leader.  This theme discusses the flexibility factor for the future of work.

Obsession with “busy-ness”

In my qualitative research, many leaders shared that they are getting to spend far more time with their immediate family members now more than ever.  They question the old way of being “busy.”  Most described their days before starting with abrupt wake up calls, followed by scrambling to get the family ready and out the door, to working nine to ten hour days, commuting close to an hour, all to rush home to make dinner and squeeze in maybe an hour of family time.  

How was the “busy” life working for you?

People have overused the word “busy” for far too long.  This is a chance to pause.  To reflect on who and how we spend our time.  Rarely do people wish they had spent more time at work on their deathbeds.  It is funny that most new year’s resolutions start with more family time, better health, and self-care time, yet waver by mid-January.  

This pandemic provides a great opportunity to return to what you really want.

Time to get flexible with flexibility

Shannon Bisping, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion Programs at Cyient, “I think the pandemic, while bad, is a welcomed change to the way we work.  The newer generations prefer a more flexible environment.  The pandemic has helped to fast forward the way people work globally by altering the pattern that people work, the tools and innovative thinking required to work, and the way leaders engage and express empathy to their staff.”

This is a chance to reset expectations.  To give people more freedom on how to spend their time.  Gone are the days of productivity assessed by hours in the office.  

Productivity in fact increases in nearly every study on virtual work. In the HBR article, To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home, researchers found a 13.5% productivity boost and lower attribution rate, saving an average of $1,900 per employee in less than a year span.  There are other advantages as well – lower real estate costs, less air pollution, and more efficient meetings.

This is further backed up by The 4 Day Week, where Andrew Barnes, author and entrepreneur, found higher productivity, quality, and engagement on his team with a four day week rather than the standard five day week.  When given freedom, people often value it so much that they work harder to protect it.

Look to tech companies to lead the way

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey led the way in May announcing to employees that they are allowed to work from home permanently, even after the coronavirus pandemic lockdown passes, with exceptions for jobs that require physical presence.  Human Resources leader at Twitter, Jennifer Christie acknowledged the initial pushback with “managers who didn’t think they could manage teams that were remote will have a different perspective. I do think we won’t go back.”

The experts seem to agree that there will be a blended work environment in the future.  For non-essential in person contact organizations, the most common approach I found is a 2×3 in/out of office model with flexible schedules and specific parameters custom to the team’s needs.

Toolkit to take action

If the busy life was not working for you or your organization, take this gift of the great pause.  Call your team together to gather input on how they want to approach flexibility in the future.  Connect with your team one-on-one or as a team to discuss:

  • PROS:  What aspects of the flexible work environment are working?
  • CONS:  What is not working?
  • START:  What do we want to agree to do more of in the future?
  • STOP:  What do we want to do less of in the future?
  • CONTINUE: What do we want to keep doing?

The future of work will not be the same.  There is no return to normal.  The future of work is flexible.

This great pause is an opportunity to lead your team to success.  How are you going to take advantage of this opportunity?

If you liked this article, good news.  I created a future of work blog series and video series on the future of work.  You can find time to connect with me  1:1 to discuss ideas here.

We need our allies more than ever.  We will get through this together.  Because we are stronger together.

Message me with your thoughts at  I personally respond to every email I receive.