On Jul 13 2022 / by Michaela Egbers

London Tech Week 2022: Key Takeaways from The Future of Work Summit

Last month, the Future of Work Summit took place as part of London Tech Week 2022. If you were there, you might’ve spotted a Parkable t-shirt or two and just above them, the eager, friendly faces of our UK team. For those who couldn’t make it along, although you did miss out on a great conference, you don’t have to miss out on all the learnings too - we studiously took notes of all the best bits for you.

What the Future of Work Summit was all about

If you’re in the business of managing a workforce, you don’t need a summit to tell you that the way we work has changed significantly over the last couple of years. The Future of Work Summit knew that too, and didn’t waste time re-hashing how covid has changed everything. Instead they facilitated insightful discussions on the most pressing workforce challenges we’re now facing as a result, and how we might approach them so that our organisations and people are equipped for the future.

The four main topics were:

  • The Great Resignation: Surviving The Talent Shortage
  • How Tech is Powering Productivity in our Humanised Workforce: A Conversation with JumpCloud
  • Trust or Bust? The Power of a Purpose-Driven Organisation
  • Individualising the Employee Experience – is 2022 the year of the employee?

Let’s get into the highlights

The Great Resignation: Surviving the Talent Shortage

Whether it be from burnout, the extra time the pandemic afforded some of us to think about what we really want in life, or the fact that some employers expect staff to return to work and give up WFH, the great resignation is real. Not only is it real, but it’s exacerbating the talent shortage that years of closed borders has brought us.

So what were the key nuggets of wisdom on surviving the great talent shortage?

  • Listen to the people and make them feel heard and then focus on building a culture - Craig Freedberg
  • Look for ways to have much higher levels of engagement and consultation - Anna Thomas
  • Spend some time reflecting on the wellbeing of your employees - Almudena Canibano
  • Invest in your people managers, don't expect just because they’re in a management position to have everything it takes for people to progress in the organisation. Give them the tools, the techniques, the conversational confidence to be able to help everybody in the organisation progress - Gori Yahaya

Gone are the days of overpromising and under-delivering when attracting and retaining talent. In a world where work no longer has borders and the hiring landscape is competitive, organisations must authentically listen to their people, empower them to thrive, and implement ways of working that their employees are saying will enable them to do their best work.

How Tech is Powering Productivity in our Humanised Workforce: A Conversation with JumpCloud

Workplace technology is the unsung hero that has gotten most organisations through the pandemic (relatively) economically unscathed with little more than a few Zoom faux-pas. And while it has meant work can seamlessly continue from our living rooms, it has been at the expense of the ‘water-cooler’ moments, collaborating in person, and having clear boundaries of when you are and are not ‘online’.

So how can organisations create a supportive digital workplace that drives team productivity? Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Greg Keller from JumpCloud had this to say:

  • Reduce burnout by reducing meetings
    • Use technology and asynchronous ways to communicate like Slack or Teams or which doesn’t necessarily require yet another meeting. Some decisions can be made quickly with a thumbs up/down.
  • Create a culture with clear technology boundaries
    • To let people get things done and alleviate pressure to always be ‘available’ for meetings. JumpCloud’s example was ‘no meeting days’. They let employees pick and choose the day, sometimes it's a Friday, sometimes it's a Monday or Wednesday. They mandate that it is the day to get stuff done and focus.
  • Allow time for open, agenda-free, discussion
    • This is to create space for online ‘water-cooler’ moments. This will look different in every organisation depending on what employees want to do. Individual 1-1 zoom calls, team wide virtual coffees, a dedicated 5 minutes at the start of a team call for a low-down on what everyone did in the weekend...

Trust or Bust? The Power of a Purpose-driven Organisation

It’s been a rough and rocky few years and the general consensus of this discussion was that it’s essential, now more than ever before, for organisations to come together around a collective mission and set the tone for the future.  But re-setting your mission and values while adapting to new hybrid ways of working is no small feat, so what are some steps organisations can take?

Set authentic vision and values:

Hilary Sutcliffe from SocietyInside put it nicely, “When you are devising your purpose driven metrics and your purpose driven language, just keep it really really real somehow, there's so much fluff out there it's giving purpose driven business a bad name”. Organisational values that are centred around innovating, working together, and acting with integrity (we bet you’ve heard some variation of these before!) sound nice and morally come from the right place, but they’re unlikely to inspire and empower employees.

Find WFH policies that suit you and your employees:

Your employees' lives and routines have changed (and a lot of them out of necessity, not just to avoid a morning commute), so demanding they all return to the office will likely increase your turnover instead of your organisation's productivity. So how do you strike a balance?

Charu Bjuvestig, Managing Director of QA Talent says “A Hybrid WFH/in-office model will work if you put the right policies in place. We’ve had feedback from employees who don't want to come back because they have childcare support issues and a different lifestyle, and young employees who want to come back for the social interaction. The key thing is creating an environment where every single person gets to have a say and have the option to do a few things that work for them. In the long-term they can decide if a hybrid environment is right for them or not.”

Let go of controlling leadership styles and trust your employees more:

“Organisations that are about empowering people to contribute and to work together with the business have thrived compared to those organisations who are command and control types. I think that shifting away from a command  and control management leadership style into a one that favours inclusion and openness is a really important driver of trust and in building a purpose led organisation. Trust first and you will receive trust, and then people will also be trustworthy in return.” - Hilary Sutcliffe

Individualising the Employee Experience – is 2022 the year of the employee?

Whether 2022 is “the year of the employee” or not, it’s certainly the year that employees have more say, more choice and more sway.

As Nick Hedderman, Senior Director at Microsoft UK said, “People are choosing their employer not just on the salary they get paid or the hours they work, but also the purpose of the organisation. What's the culture that's being created? Do they have flexibility to work how, when and where they want, and do they have a team that has a sense of energy around that? That's where we’re going to see people voting with their feet.”

So is it really all about the employee and not the organisation?

The short answer is no, but where there used to be an imbalance in favour of the organisation, the playing field is now a little more level. Organisations can’t just expect to set the rules and have employees follow. The rules need to make sense and employees need to be able to have their say

“There can certainly be tension between what an individual employee wants and what is best for the organisation, and it’s hard to find the balance. There’s the selfish act of working how when and where I want, with the selfless act of working when it’s best for the organisation or the team. You need a digital fabric to connect people and an organisation together, whether they’re in person or remote, or working synchronously or asynchronicity - it’s really critical that all orgs establish that fabric. It’s about organising ways to give flexibility and empowerment, while also maintaining culture and productivity with that fabric.” - Nick Hedderman, Senior Director at Microsoft UK

“Collaboration, innovation, and socialising is super important in terms of creating an environment where people want to stay. Create a social fabric that helps keep people in an organisation.  Some of that will be face to face and some of that will be online. But the fabric you decide on has gotta mean something, it can’t just be randomly picked. There are ways of doing it but I think whatever you do, you have to be very thoughtful and purposeful when you need to be in the office.” - Ben Higgin, Head of Technology and Investments at PwC

To summarise,

Organisations have been forced to see their employees for the humans that they are, with lives outside of their job titles that are filled with families, busy schedules, hobbies, and emotional ups and downs.  And employees have seen that when the boundaries between work and life become blurred, the blurry line can be positive, resulting in a more efficient use of their time.

So if you take anything away from The 2022 Future of Work Summit, let it be that there’s no right way to move forward, but the wrong way would be denying you need to adapt.

At Parkable, we’re passionate about creating better workplace experiences. Our award-winning staff parking management software company, improves workplace parking so that employees can start their days stress-free. By providing seamless, bookable, and fairly distributed staff parking, clients improve the entire employee commute, as well as culture and engagement.

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