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This year, remote work turned from a perk to a necessity. What’s another element of the broader employee experience that could follow suit?

This year, remote work turned from a perk to a necessity. What’s another element of the broader employee experience that could follow suit?

The evolution of the workday, representation in the workforce and in-house reskilling programs are parts of the employee experience members of Protocol's Braintrust say are essential.

Anne Chow

CEO at AT&T Business

The events of the past few months have driven massive workforce changes that otherwise might have taken decades or not even at all. Our lives have blended more than ever before, and it's become harder to "turn off" with little separation from our workspaces and home life. As a result, I believe we'll see a few changes in the coming months that will continue to evolve the employee experience:

  • Evolution of the work day: Organizations will likely adopt more "no meeting" policies on certain days of the week; work hours will continue to become more flexible (after some employees are teaching their children remotely); in some cases, businesses might adopt a four-day work week.
  • AR/VR for work: It will be the norm to step into a virtual reality room to meet with customers or collaborate with your team. These experiences will be even more enhanced with the rollout of 5G.
  • Hitting the road for school and work: With connectivity options improving for vehicles, more families will hit the road via RV or Airstream to work and learn remotely.
  • Geography no longer an inhibitor: Recruiting is going to be expanded, and it'll be the norm for teams to consist of employees spread around the world.

These past few months have proven that change can happen quickly, people can adapt just as quickly, and the results can be positive. Thanks to technology, we can continue to give employees the flexibility and tools they need to be productive and successful in our new normal.

Lila Preston

Partner at Generation Investment Management

As sustainable investors, we care deeply about a more equitable, inclusive and efficient future of work, something the pandemic has shown does not currently exist. Job losses are concentrated among the young, women and people of color; some businesses have shown limited regard for their workers' welfare; and rising health pressure and food insecurity exacerbate many families' financial vulnerability. For us, three changes need to take place:

First, workers should be adequately compensated — in terms of their monthly salary and also with benefits like retirement savings and health care coverage, which they should be encouraged to utilize. Offering employees equity is also gaining momentum, but companies must be transparent and provide employees financial education to manage such benefits.

Second, we need to address longstanding issues of poor minority representation at work. By removing the requirement to physically be in the office, companies can also access more-inclusive talent pools like working mothers, veterans and people with disabilities.

Finally, one of the consequences of not being physically in the office is the loss of spontaneous meetings and connections. These moments spur collaboration and help young employees with career development. This is especially critical for women and minorities. Organizations, especially in a hybrid virtual world, need to build a balance of structured and unstructured time to allow employees to build connections.

We maintain high aspirations for a future of work that is more inclusive and sustainable, and we are excited by the commercial opportunities in building back better.

Rachel Carlson

CEO at Guild Education

I think one shift for employers will be that providing training and upskilling — specifically skills-based training and upskilling — to more employees and workers will become essential. Rather than this being viewed as just a benefit, comprehensive upskilling is becoming a critical part of corporate strategy.

One of the things we've tracked at Guild is an overall trend of companies' digital transformations, automation and changes in the workforce. There's been an evolution of what skills employers who are hiring and growing need and what skills they know their employees will need. What's happened with the pandemic has accelerated a lot of those forces, and we see these changes accelerating. In some cases, employers are hiring — despite a difficult overall economic outlook — but what they need are workers with specific skills and competencies.

For employers, thinking about how your workforce keeps up is no longer a question on the horizon. It is arriving now. So, over time, what I think we'll see is that opportunities to learn and add credentials will become vital and that the thinking around them will shift in this sense.

Jay Choi

Executive Vice President and General Manager of EmployeeXM at Qualtrics

Even before the pandemic hit, work wasn't working for everyone. We can't simply "go back" to the way things were. We have to create a better experience for our workforce. That means continually listening to and responding to their needs. This will pay dividends for organizational resilience and quickly adapting to new market opportunities.

As we look to the broader employee experience, I think we'll see the following necessities emerge:

  • A deep focus on the workplace experience. Whether it be the facilities experience, work-from-home experience or the technology experience, we see HR and IT partnering deeply to understand and support employees no matter where they are working from.
  • Leading employers will need to focus investments on the well-being, inclusion and family needs of employees. Better support for caregiver responsibilities and family health requirements, minimizing burnout, and supporting mental health needs will be mainstay for organizational success.
  • Leading organizations will evolve from thinking of diversity, equity and inclusion from an HR initiative to a business strategy and will make meaningful progress toward diversity, equity and inclusion among their workforce.

Disruption forces innovation and creates a bias toward action. Now is the time to actively reimagine the way work should be. Some of the world's leading brands will be talking about what that means for them at Work Different, a free digital event hosted by Qualtrics.

To learn more and register for the event, click here.

Vanessa Colella

Chief Innovation Officer, Head of Citi Ventures & Citi Productivity at Citi Ventures

I have long believed that innovation — which involves fostering creativity, brainstorming and encouraging experimentation — can be a unifying experience for employees and an outlet to explore their passions. With the likelihood of permanent or increased remote work, there is an opportunity to foster a culture of innovation to not only promote a sense of belonging, but also engage employees in the future of the company. As every industry adapts to our new reality, our employees on the front line are often the most attuned to the changes that need to be made to succeed in the long run.

At Citi, we have built an innovation ecosystem that is championed by leaders across our organization and supports a variety of internal programs to involve employees in innovation at all levels. Our D10X program, for example, allows employees to pitch their product ideas and partner with our entrepreneurs in residence to develop real client solutions. While these internal brainstorms look a lot different now, videoconferencing and team group chats give employees a chance to connect, share ideas and collaborate on innovation projects in process.

It's imperative that we encourage creative thinking among employees and provide them with the space they need to develop new solutions. Leaders should implement internal programs, such as hackathons, seminars and product brainstorms, which engage employees across teams, businesses and borders. I believe that bringing employees together in the name of innovation is an essential next step to promoting progress.

Jessica Swank

Chief People Officer at Box

As we settle into this new normal, employees are working in a completely different way than they are used to. On top of that, they are dealing with stress, fears and hardships that they may not have had to face in their daily lives at home. While they are doing their best to lean in and balance it all (kids, elderly family members, mental health challenges) to avoid burnout, companies will need to rethink their policies around work-life balance.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but one place to start is looking at more flexible work schedules. Things like providing guidance to employees and managers around flexible working hours, planning for mandatory company days off, encouraging fresh air Fridays, enforcing no meeting days, and, in some cases, even adjusting the company work week, are just a few of the ways that could begin to improve this complex situation.

See who's who in Protocol's Braintrust (updated Aug. 6, 2020).

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email braintrust@protocol.com

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