The Future of Work Will Be Personalized

The Future of Work Will Be Personalized April 24, 2024

Future of Work

Is your workspace truly personalized to your needs? As we delve into the transformation of work environments, it becomes clear that the one-size-fits-all approach is rapidly becoming obsolete. That’s the key take-away from my enlightening interview with Loretta Li-Sevilla, Head of Future of Work, Business Incubation, and Design for Services and Circularity at HP, who has spent years analyzing trends and changes in workplace dynamics.

The Essence of Hybrid Work

Hybrid work, a term that has become ubiquitous in the corporate lexicon, signifies more than just a mix of remote and in-office work. It represents a fundamental shift in understanding work as an activity rather than a place. HP’s adaptation to this model is reflective of a broader corporate evolution.

In this new landscape, the traditional office setup, with its dedicated desks and personal workstations, is becoming obsolete. Instead, spaces are being reimagined to foster collaboration and interaction. This change acknowledges that while individual tasks can be efficiently handled remotely, the office’s value lies in its capacity for collaboration, brainstorming, and team-building activities.

This reevaluation of office space goes beyond mere physical rearrangement. It’s about creating an environment that encourages spontaneous interactions and collaborative efforts. By transforming offices into hubs of collaboration rather than rows of dedicated desks, companies like HP are acknowledging and facilitating the primary reasons for in-person work: teamwork, creativity, and human connection.

The Revolution in Workplace Dynamics

The recent evolution in the workplace – including via hybrid work – is nothing short of a revolution. Li-Sevilla emphasizes how the advent of flexible working models and employee-centric strategies has reshaped our understanding of productivity and workplace engagement. This transformation isn’t just about where we work; it’s about how work integrates into our lives. The pandemic acted as a catalyst, accelerating a change that might have otherwise taken decades to unfold.

The role of AI in this paradigm shift cannot be overstated. AI is no longer a futuristic concept but a present-day tool that enhances human capabilities. At HP, AI is leveraged not just for efficiency but to create a more intuitive and responsive work environment. This technology helps in understanding employee patterns, preferences, and performance, thereby enabling a more personalized work experience.

HP’s initiative to build a future-ready workforce is an excellent example of how companies are adapting to these changes. This strategy isn’t confined to a single department; it’s a company-wide ethos that permeates through IT, HR, Facilities, communications, and more. It’s about creating an ecosystem where the employee experience is paramount. This approach involves continuously experimenting with new methods and technologies and being agile enough to adjust strategies based on real-time feedback and outcomes.

Overcoming Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is a natural human reaction, particularly in the workplace where routines and environments establish a sense of stability and comfort. Li-Sevilla’s experience at HP illustrates this challenge vividly. The shift to hot-desking and shared desk arrangements, while innovative, was initially met with reluctance from employees accustomed to personal workspaces. This reluctance is rooted in concerns about losing a sense of personal space and perceived decreases in productivity due to unfamiliar or inadequate work setups.

To address these concerns, HP took a proactive approach. The company recognized that for employees to embrace these changes, they needed to feel just as equipped and comfortable in the office as they did in their home setups. To this end, HP outfitted each shared workspace with technology paralleling what employees had at home. This included dual or curved  monitors, reliable webcams, and the ability to connect with one cable for efficient connectivity and power. This move was not just about providing tools; it was about sending a clear message that employee productivity and comfort were top priorities, regardless of the location.

Personalization: The Core of Future Work

The concept of personalization lies at the heart of HP’s transformation and, more broadly, the future of work. Personalization in the workplace goes beyond ergonomic chairs or preferred hardware; it’s about acknowledging and adapting to the diverse working styles, roles, desire for flexibility in schedule and location of work, and other personal needs of employees. Li-Sevilla’s approach underlines the importance of understanding these individual differences to create an inclusive and productive work environment.

In practice, personalization can manifest in various ways. For some employees, it might mean flexible hours that align with their peak productivity times or balancing caregiving responsibilities. For others, it could involve specialized tools and software that cater to their specific job functions. The key is to avoid the trap of a uniform approach to work environments and recognize that what works for one person or team might not be effective for another.

Personalization also extends to the way workspaces are designed. For instance, creating quiet areas for those who need a focused environment, alongside collaborative spaces for team interactions, caters to different work preferences. This holistic approach to workspace design acknowledges the multiplicity of tasks and interactions that constitute the modern workday.

Technology as the Enabler

In today’s hybrid work model, technology serves as the linchpin that holds together the fabric of modern workplaces, both at home and in the office. For office environments, the focus on individual and team productivity is complemented by a suite of technologies designed to facilitate seamless communication and collaboration. High-quality audio-video capabilities are essential, enabling clear and effective virtual meetings that mimic the in-person experience. In this context, tools like high-resolution webcams, noise-canceling microphones, and sophisticated video conferencing software are not just conveniences but necessities.

The home office setup has evolved significantly from being a makeshift arrangement to a fully equipped workspace. The objective is to replicate the efficiency of the office environment. This includes reliable high-speed internet, ergonomic furniture, professional-grade headsets, and dual monitor setups. The integration of cloud services and collaboration tools ensures that remote employees have access to the same resources as their in-office counterparts. This technological parity is crucial in maintaining uniformity in work output and quality, regardless of the physical location of the employee.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Work

As we gaze into the future of work, the vision set forth by Li-Sevilla is both revolutionary and grounded in present realities. The future workspace she describes transcends traditional boundaries, offering a more contextual, personalized, and immersive experience. This means work environments that adapt to the individual needs of each employee, recognizing their work patterns and preferences. Imagine a workspace that automatically adjusts lighting and temperature based on your comfort, or collaborative tools that intuitively understand your project needs and suggest resources or connections.

Another critical aspect of this future is sustainability and circularity. As we become increasingly aware of our environmental footprint, the future of work will integrate eco-friendly practices at its core. This could manifest in sustainable office buildings, energy-efficient technology, and products designed for multi-life with materials that reduce waste and promote recycling.

. The digital tools we use will likely be designed with energy efficiency in mind, and remote work will continue to play a role in reducing carbon emissions associated with commuting.

Cognitive Bias and Future of Work

Incorporating an understanding of cognitive biases into the discussion of the future of work, especially in the context of technology as an enabler and the envisioned workplace dynamics, adds a critical dimension to how we perceive and adapt to these changes. Two pertinent cognitive biases in this context are the status quo bias and loss aversion.

Status quo bias, the preference for the current state of affairs and resistance to change, is particularly relevant when discussing the evolution of workspaces and technology. As companies like HP move towards more flexible, hybrid models, employees often exhibit a preference for the familiar. This bias can manifest in reluctance to adopt new technologies or resistance to changes in workspace layouts, such as the shift from personal desks to hot-desking systems. The comfort of the known can be a powerful deterrent to embracing potentially beneficial changes.

For example, when employees are presented with new collaborative tools or asked to adjust to a shared workspace, the status quo bias might lead them to undervalue the benefits of these changes. They might stick to familiar but less efficient methods of working or communication, simply because it feels safer and more comfortable.

Loss aversion, the idea that people prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains, is another critical bias in this context. When transitioning to new technology stacks in both office and home environments, employees may perceive a greater risk in losing their familiar work routines than any potential gain from new technology. This bias can lead to a reluctance to invest time in learning new systems or an exaggerated focus on potential drawbacks, such as the learning curve associated with new software.

In implementing technologies like advanced video conferencing tools or cloud-based collaboration platforms, employees influenced by loss aversion might focus more on what could go wrong (e.g., technical issues, loss of data) rather than the potential benefits (e.g., improved efficiency, better team collaboration).

Addressing these biases requires a thoughtful approach. To mitigate status quo bias, organizations can involve employees in the change process, providing clear and consistent communication about the benefits and rationale behind the changes. Training sessions, demonstrations, and pilot programs can help ease the transition, making new practices less intimidating.

To counter loss aversion, highlighting the potential gains from new technologies in a tangible way can be effective. Offering assurances, such as robust support systems and contingency plans for potential losses, can also alleviate fears. Emphasizing the long-term benefits and providing examples of successful implementations can shift focus from potential short-term losses to longer-term gains.

Conclusion

This conversation with Li-Sevilla offers a glimpse into a future where work is not just a place you go but an experience tailored to individual needs and preferences. It’s a future where technology, personalization, and sustainability intertwine to create a dynamic, efficient, and fulfilling work environment. As business professionals, we must embrace these changes and adapt to a world where the future of work is, indeed, personalized. That’s what I’ll be telling my clients who I help figure out their future of work models.

Key Take-Away

The future of work emphasizes personalization, recognizing and adapting to diverse employee needs for a more inclusive and productive environment…>Click to tweet

 

 

Image credit: Elevate Digital/pexels

Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts


Dr. Gleb Tsipursky was lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times for helping leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.
About Dr. Gleb Tsipursky
Known as the Disaster Avoidance Expert, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases, which devastate bottom lines and bring down high-flying careers. His expertise and passion is developing the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies, based on pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience, to empower leaders to avoid business disasters and maximize their bottom lines. You can learn more here https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/glebtsipursky/ The bestselling author of several books, Dr. Tsipursky is best known for his national bestseller on avoiding disasters and achieving success in business and other life areas, The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. His next book, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters, is forthcoming with Career Press in November 2019. It’s the first book to focus on cognitive biases in business leadership and reveal how leaders can overcome these dangerous judgment errors effectively. After that he’s publishing The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships with New Harbinger in April 2020, the first book to focus on cognitive biases in professional and personal relationships and illustrate how we can defeat these dangerous judgment errors in our relationships. See more information here https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/author-page/ Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles he published and over 350 interviews he gave to popular venues that include Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, The Conversation, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and many others, as you can see here https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/media/ Dr. Tsipursky's expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, speaking, and training for businesses and nonprofits. He serves as the CEO of the boutique consulting, coaching, and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts, which uses a proprietary methodology based on groundbreaking research to help leaders and organizations maximize their bottom lines by addressing potential threats, seizing unexpected opportunities, and resolving persistent personnel problems. His clients include Aflac, Balance Employment Assistance Provider, Edison Welding Institute, Fifth Third Bank, Honda, IBM, International Coaches Federation, Ohio Hospitals Association, National Association of Women Business Owners, Sentinel Real Estate, The Society for Human Resource Management, RealManage, The Columbus Foundation, Vistage, Wells Fargo, the World Wildlife Fund, and over a hundred others who achieve outstanding client results. You can learn more about that here: https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/about Dr. Tsipursky also has a strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University and before that a Fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications include journals such as Behavior and Social Issues, Journal of Social and Political Psychology, and International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy. His civic service includes over 4 years as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Intentional Insights, an educational nonprofit advocating for research-based decision-making in all life areas. He also co-founded the Pro-Truth Pledge, a civic project to promote truthfulness and integrity for individual professionals and leaders in the same way that the Better Business Bureau serves as a commitment for businesses. He serves on the Advisory Board of Canonical Debate Lab and Planet Purpose, and is on the Editorial Board of the peer-reviewed journal Behavior and Social Issues. A highly in-demand international speaker, Dr. Tsipursky has over two decades of professional speaking experience across North America, Europe, and Australia. He gets top marks from audiences for his highly facilitative, interactive, and humor-filled speaking style and the way he thoroughly customizes speeches for diverse audiences. Meeting planners describe Dr. Tsipursky as "very relatable," as "a snap to work with," and as someone who "does everything that you would want a speaker to do." Drawing on best practices in adult learning, his programs address the wide spectrum of diverse learning styles, as attested by enthusiastic client testimonials and references. He regularly shares the stage with prominent leaders, for example recently speaking on a roundtable panel with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Elhadj As Sy, Chancellor of Austria Brigitte Bierlein, CEO of Penguin Random House Markus Dohle, and billionaire philanthropist and Chair of the Bertelsmann Management Company Liz Mohn. You can learn more about his speaking and see videos here: https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/speaking/ Dr. Tsipursky earned his PhD in the History of Behavioral Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011, his M.A. at Harvard University in 2004, and his B.A. at New York University in 2002. He lives in and travels from Columbus, OH. In his free time, he enjoys tennis, hiking, and playing with his two cats, and most importantly, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid disasters in his personal life. Learn more about him at https://DisasterAvoidanceExperts.com/GlebTsipursky, contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky and Twitter @gleb_tsipursky. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the “Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace,” by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course at https:// DisasterAvoidanceExperts.com/Subscribe You can read more about the author here.
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