Before getting into the heart of my series “the future of work in 2022 and beyond” and after having recalled the meaning of the words “future” and “work”, I would like to bring a last clarification to frame the subject.
When one starts to think about the future of work, it can take two counterproductive angles.
The first, as we saw in my previous post, is to want to protect the pass too much and be too restrictive in its approach. The second is to lose all sense of reality.
We must not lose sight of what should be the objective of such an approach: to lead to a concrete action plan and get a message across to employees.
The future of work is not a promise
This is perhaps the most difficult dimension to manage because it forces us to take into account two injunctions that may seem contradictory.
The future of work is not a promise in the sense that we should not think that employees will be satisfied with a nice speech, nice words and that cel will fulfill their expectations. Saying that we have understood the situation, that we have understood their future needs, possibly making them dream is meaningless and nothing happens afterwards.
But the future of work is not a promise in the sense that, even with the best will in the world, you may not be able to accomplish everything you want to.
I used to say that a prediction and a plan are wrong from the moment they are made. Too many things can change in the economic and societal environment of the company and the last few years have been full of events proving this. The plan can be beautiful, one can really want to execute it, then something happens called reality, the future, which is by definition unpredictable, and in the end they are the ones who are most often right.
The future of work is not a dream
I was insisting on the need to have a relatively rational approach when it comes to making predictions and here is the main reason: they have to lead to something operational, it’s not just an exercise to have fun.
I have already participated in a number of workshops on the “future of something”, with managers, employees, external experts…
I heard a lot of very interesting things.
But I also heard many things that told me more about the person than about the future. Listening to them I understood their desires, their fears, their political ideas, what they cared about, their convictions, what they wanted to fight against…but nothing about the future.
The result of all this was in the end a mixture of ideology, dreams, frustrations, but through this work they were projecting themselves into a future they hoped for, not their company into a realistic future.
Of course these biases will always exist, but they can be minimized, precisely by rationalizing things as much as possible. Don’t worry, everyone’s imagination and dreams will always find a way to express themselves, we just have to avoid that they take us too far from what is realistic.
We must not forget that a reflection on the future of work must lead to a realistic action plan that will find its place in a future that we hope to have well identified.
To make it the ground of expression of the dreams and the fights of each one leads to a diametrically opposed result.