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Facing the Future of Work: looking toward 2018 and beyond…

  • Clock logoDecember 06, 2017
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Counting down to the New Year, we’re catching up on all the trends, insights and forecasts that were discussed at last month’s hubday dedicated to the Future of Work in Paris.


Bringing together 300+ HR, management and digital decision makers and over 20 leading international brands, this year’s “future of work” was headlined by Google, AccorHotels, Air France, AXA, BNP Paribas, Deezer, Disneyland Paris, ENGIE, Orange, PMU, Veolia, Vinci, Workplace by Facebook... to name a few

The future of work is not what you expect

Surprisingly, AI was not left, right and center of all conversations, but rather loomed in the back of everyone’s minds in the shape of two powerful statistics: Automation will lead to the disappearance of more than 50% of our current jobs. Meanwhile, 85% of jobs that will emerge by 2030 as result of AI and automation are still unknown to us!

It is thus by first acknowledging that we don’t really have a clear vision of what lies ahead, that this “future of work” event kicked off… in order to reveal that, ultimately, in the whirlwind of digital transformation, new skill sets will prove decisive, and chief among them: agility. The agility of your workforce and managerial model will become your most valuable assets

Think Soft

From the first few minutes of their presentation, Emmanuel Vivier, the Hub Institute’s Associate Director, and Caroline Loisel, Consultant for Be Birds, stressed the value of ‘soft skills’ as the natural embodiment of agility. Championed by today’s generation of independent professionals, these “people” skills underscore an innate ability to adapt, start over, multitask and experiment. Still underestimated by larger companies, these skills are an unsuspected weapon to nimbly navigate the shifty waters of change. 

Moving forward, companies will be faced with a generation of workers that has grown up in an age of restless evolution, and has developed these skills as a way to embrace perpetual transformation. More than 35% of millennials currently work as either freelancers, slashers or are self-employed. This number is set to exceed 50% by 2025. 

It is incumbent upon large companies to attract these soft skilled professionals, however the values and managerial model many companies continue to uphold deter them in increasing numbers: the majority of millennials prefer juggling several projects at once, working for a startup or being their own boss rather than joining the Fortune 500 establishment. 

Brands need to begin by transforming themselves from within to reflect the same agility as their target recruits, especially since prospective forecasting is becoming more and more difficult. Case in point: “half of today’s top tier decision makers admit to not knowing what their business model is going to look like beyond three years’ time”, reports Arnaud Devigne, Managing Director of Indeed. 

An agile workforce

Cropping up in nearly every keynote and business case, the notion of “agility” nevertheless remains relatively obscure to many: 8 out of 10 employees do not understand what it actually means in practical terms, as revealed by the last Ifop Digital Media barometer. 

An agile methodology therefore needs to be properly “incubated within” larger groups by conferring responsibility, autonomy and trust upon employees as well as by privileging project-mode communication tools and organization. But as Jean-Brand Pieri, Head of Digital Factory, Veolia, points out: you have to lead by example: “I empowered my project managers by giving them new roles as “Product Owners”. As a manager, I took a step back and spent more time coaching our team than telling everyone what to do”.

Managers and employees: part of the same digital convers(at)ion

By creating a conversation where all your company employees can “speak” with the same legitimacy, regardless of management level, you’ll truly incorporate them into your transformational project and turn them into inspired ambassadors of your brand, notes Nicolas Faring, Director of Development at Workplace by Facebook. 

“Over a year ago, we launched Workplace at a global level to develop our agility in terms of project management and bring all our international teams into closer proximity”, explains Kim Neyret, General Manager for Acticall Sitel Group, France. “It’s a platform that facilitates easy and efficient communication, allows for quick roll-out of initiatives, lets people share success stories, best practices and exchange feedback in real time. Everyone has visibility and can participate in the conversation and the contribution of each team member is invaluable”, she adds, noting: “Our digital consulting agency, The Social Client, has been using it as their project management tool for our clients”.

Design thinking: building long term innovation from the ground up

A transformational mindset has to be promoted at every level of the company, but it also needs to be built to last. Underlying every presentation was the question of designing an organizational model that could carry digital transformation into the future, which begins by accepting that what may have worked until now may no longer work moving ahead: “You have to kill SALY (same as last year)”, declared Antoine de Riedmatten, General Manager, In Extenso. 

And what no longer works is thinking digital transformation strictly in terms of technology. Digital transformation does not necessarily entail perennial transformation. And going too fast can compromise its sustainability: “Everyone has to be primed, through training and development, support, and sponsoring. Not by relying on a traditional top-bottom transmission of knowledge, but through a continual, circular teamwork dynamic”, underlines Raphael Briner, Chief Strategy & Cofounder, Elium. 

Innovation relies on the collective implication of every member of the company, at all levels: “Our true champions are those who work at the ground level, so you have to prepare them accordingly”, he warns. Only in this way will companies succeed in supporting innovation with a strong enough cultural mindset to carry it forward. 

Engineering happiness

Guaranteeing performance levels 12% higher than average, happiness at work is the undeniable breeding ground of innovation within a company. Happiness engineer and apostle, Mo Gawdat, Chief Business Officer at X, Google’s R&D lab, has devised a formula meant to spawn a happy company culture that statistics have proven to be the most powerful lever for pulling off any digital transformation project. 

Along the same lines, managerial models that associate wellbeing with performance will be more successful at attracting and retaining today’s millennial workers who seek out meaning more than they do prestigious careers, and privilege lifestyle choices over enormous salaries. 

Faced with a generation whose “social calling” trumps its business opportunism, as journalist Emilie Vidaud outlines in her study, Disneyland Paris set up a recruitment system that pulls up a variety of relevant job offers based on an algorithm that combines the answers to three questions: I know…? I am…? I love…? 

From team member to team player

Training and development programs must also follow suite, and include methods and tools that are aligned with this generation’s lifestyle and can be mastered fast so as to transition more efficiently to job responsibilities. 

A positive approach to test and fail can also reap huge benefits. Valuing failure within a dynamic of “fail, yes, but fail fast” will encourage team members to take risks, with the strength and confidence to jump back in the ring and try again if they fail. “You will empower your teams with confidence and a sense of self-worth, and the trust you show them will inspire them to give you 100% of their creative ability”, explains Philippe Van Caenegem, Head of Strategic Innovation & Incubation EMEA, Salesforce.

Moreover, it is absolutely crucial to develop among all team members a genuine sense of belonging and enthusiasm toward the company’s innovative ambitions: “by fostering a spirit of collaboration and by encouraging intrapreneurship, but also by letting them look outside the walls of your company and establish relationships with external partners and build what we call ‘Next Door’ projects”, reveals Arnaud Bosom, Associate General Manager, Human Relation, TF1 Group.

Brands who can crossbreed this creative energy with a strong collaborative mindset will be able to ally the spirit that drives innovation with the culture that builds a secure foundation, and thus successfully lead digital transformation into the future… 

The Social Client, digital consulting agency and a company of Acticall Sitel Group, will feature among the guest speakers at the next Hubday: Future of Social Marketing & Business to be held December 14th. Geoffrey Boulakia, General Manager will take part in a panel discussion alongside Caroline Desaegher, Director of Communications and Brand Image, Ramsay Générale de Santé and Anne-Sophie Manneau, Digital Communications Officer, Vinci. 

Book your tickets now!

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