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Labarre: Future of work - Freedom and flexibility

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I think there's a massive re-ordering going on in the world of work. There's sort of a basic point here which is: if you want to have a disruptive presence in the marketplace you have to create, by definition, a distinctive approach to the workplace. We have created this sort of workplace pornography where every magazine, and I think we at Fast Company started this in a way, gushes over beautiful workplaces, and perks 'Look what they get'. I do think that's a peace of it. That everybody has to strive to create an organization where people walk in the door and say 'Why can't my company work this way? I had lunch at Google the other day, I would like some Sushi.'. It's not just about perks, it's really about the attention, the creativity, the rigor. The inventiveness around people practices has to much up to all the other creativity and rigor you have in all your other functions. That's sort of the table stakes. I think everybody's got to be working on that. Just because the successful organizational stories are now so visible, so out there that everybody's got a taste of it. Why would you have a drab, soul crushing, Dilbert experience, when you've seen that out there. I do think there's something else happening and part of this is mobile technology, that we're all basically able to work anywhere, any time we want. Part of this has to do with women now in the work force for many many years and becoming part of the leadership generation. It has to do with the demographics of Gen Y coming in and their different values and sensibilities around how and where and when they want to work. And how the economy restructures itself. There's all these macro trends that are putting pressure on these organization man approach to work. We still have this industrial motive: work is where you are, it's your desk, it's you chair, it's your office. It's getting your cup of coffee and plunking it down on your desk and 'OK. I'm at work', having meetings and all of the kind of structured, monitored, approach to work. I think increasingly freedom and flexibility are the new status symbols at work. Not the perks, not your fast track career but really the sort of notion that 'I can work anywhere and anyway I want. As long as I get my work done.'. And there are some really high profile experiments which we all heard of . Whether it's Best Buys results only, work place environment, where they basically exploded the industrial management structure. And said just that 'You can work anywhere, anyhow, any time you want, use whatever equipment, just get your work done. That's literally the only rule.' And then they did a lot of great cultural things around 'How do you control the emotional layer of un-ordering work?' How do you stop people saying 'Oh, it must be nice to be you. You come in at three o'clock every day.' And really just understand that that's how that person works best. I think there's a lot of high profile examples of that and all the other pressures. I think there's going to be a really interesting de-construction of the corporate way of working and organization at work. That's going to really change things in an interesting way.

Added on 22 Apr 2017

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