Empty desks in an office
Photo: Maskot/Getty Images

The future of work is no longer a business decision — it’s personal

Protocol | Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: Decision-making for the future of work, vaccine mandates in Texas, and the benefits of fostering a "learning culture" at work.

—Amber Burton, Reporter (twitter | email)

Decision-making at work is no longer solely a business decision

Do you skip the commute so you can spend a couple extra hours with your children each day, or do you go to the office because that's the only place you can focus? Work has become personal. Alexia Cambon, research director in the Gartner HR practice, witnessed these newfound complexities while studying the future of work. She interviewed dozens of C-suite executives while a team of Gartner researchers led a survey of 5,000 workers to find out what they want out of the workplace right now and moving forward.

What she found? Employees consider their future work lives to be a highly personal decision. And ignoring the personal nature of work for the sake of a business decision leaves many employees feeling unheard and unsupported. Cambon spoke with Protocol about the shift in employee expectations and how leaders can take their preferences into account in decision-making.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

How has the personal blended with professional decision-making for leaders?

I think a really interesting trend we've been seeing over the last 18 months is just how much personal decisions and personal needs are blending into the work experience. And I think it's a very vulnerable time to be a leader right now. Because even beyond the question of remote work and office work, senior leaders are being asked questions about social justice, about climate change, about sustainability. And these are probably not things that they ever really had to talk about ... but we do now have expectations that they should be a part of the work experience. I think there's definitely a blend that's happening between personal and work life.

Why can the starting point of decision-making no longer be just about productivity, cost and efficacy?

If we think about where the current set of workflow comes from, it comes from the industrial era, right? Where we set up factories and had people working on a factory belt between the hours of 9 to 5, because that's when natural daylight was, so it optimized the condition for the workers. And that was an era of manual work. We are not in an era of manual work anymore. We're in an era of knowledge work.

Once we free ourselves of the need to have uber-productivity every minute of the day, then work can suddenly start to become more fulfilling for the individual. And I do think more fulfilling work leads to greater performance, because if you're engaged and motivated and excited by what you do, you're more likely to do better work. So to me right now, setting the conditions of work has to be related to what the individual wants, what the individual needs, because ultimately that's going to enable them to be high performers.

What surprised people most about your findings?

People tend to think of synchronous collaboration — working together at the same time — as the most important aspect of innovation, and actually the data shows that asynchronous collaboration, working apart, is just as important. People find that to be really confusing for some reason. They think that being together all the time is the most important ingredient to innovation. But what the research showed is that you need time apart. You need time to refocus, recharge, to be by yourself in order to have those innovative moments.

How should the decision-making process change other than just looking at numbers on a spreadsheet for productivity and output?

I think it definitely starts with listening. We have really shocking data that shows how little employees feel listened to and how they really feel they don't have a voice in deciding how work should be done. They don't have any influence on senior leaders. So that has to change because without the feeling of being listened to you're not going to be able to build trust, and without trust you're not going to have good working relationships. So I think that the first thing leaders have to do really is to start to adopt listening techniques.

Big Tech takes a shot at Texas

When it comes to vaccine mandates in Texas, Big Tech won't budge. Despite Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order banning organizations from requiring the shot, five of the largest tech companies with offices in the state have kept their mandates in place. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Lyft and HPE have all kept their national vaccine mandates intact according to reporting by my colleague Allison Levitsky this week. But despite companies sticking to their nationwide policies, the question of how or whether to allow exemptions remains. Some companies are treading lightly for fear of conflict with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Read the full story here.

A MESSAGE FROM ZOOM

Zoom — the communications platform that has become synonymous with streaming video calls — experienced an even greater increase in that same time period. In June 2020, close to 3 million consults took place through Zoom's 100 top EPIC integrations. With its simple, reliable interface that patients — and health care workers — already knew, Zoom became the go-to for health care offices everywhere.

Learn more

Today's tips & tools

Despite the amount of time we have spent on Zoom these past two years, here are a number of features people still don't know exist on the platform. With a few tweaks, there are ways to make your experience more enjoyable. For one, did you know you could move the little boxes of meeting attendees around? Yes, you can take a virtual seat next to anyone you want in the Zoom room. Here's how to reconfigure your Zoom screen during your next meeting.

  • How it works: Go to the top right corner of your Zoom meeting and make sure you've clicked the icon for "Gallery View." This enables you to see everyone at the same time in equally-sized boxes. Next, click the video of the person you wish to move and drag them to your desired position. Release when the person is hovering at the spot you'd like them in. Note: Only you can see this configuration.
  • Why you'd do this: This can be helpful when you want to call upon people in a meeting in a certain order. Or it can simply bring you the personal delight of knowing you're virtually sitting next to your work bestie.

Do you have a 'learning' culture?

One of the most commonly known ways to engage employees is through learning opportunities. But throwing a few pre-recorded webinars on the team calendar and calling them training leaves some workers unmotivated and disengaged. Employees that say they have a "negative learning culture" are almost 90% more likely to say they don't have any career goals at all, according to a recent survey by Degreed of over 2,400 workers. Here's what else the ed-tech company found about the importance of fostering a strong learning culture at work.

  • Employees who rated their company's learning culture as positive were almost 200% more likely to receive a promotion in comparison to employees who rated their company as having a negative learning culture.
  • Workers in a positive learning culture are also "more motivated to learn in order to perform better in their current roles and prepare for future roles," according to the report.
  • Learning is not just for moving up the ladder — 69% of the employees who said they work at companies with positive learning cultures reported they set their learning or career goals to improve performance in the current role.

A MESSAGE FROM ZOOM

Zoom for Healthcare was specifically designed to fit into a health care provider's workflow. With the right security and privacy tools, it helps health care customers enable a HIPAA-compliant program; allows them to meet with patients virtually; enables workflow within electronic health records (Zoom integrates into the EPIC system); and lets them meet, message and chat with colleagues.

Learn more

Making moves

Ecommerce service Cart.com hired Sara Patterson as its new chief people officer. Prior, Patterson was chief people officer of Lemonade.

Illumio appointed Kathleen Swift as its chief people officer. Prior to joining the data center, Swift was chief human resources officer at BOLD.

Amazon announced it will hire 150,000 seasonal workers in its fulfillment centers for the upcoming holidays.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

A look at why it's so critical to get the onboarding process right.

A riveting "Ask A Manager" question with an even juicer answer (Who doesn't like a little drama on a Friday?).

A 3-minute listen about the backlash of speaking out while working at a tech company.

We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but tech salaries are rising everywhere but in the U.S. Tech salaries declined slightly in SF and NYC.

One last thing — Protocol wants to hear from you!

Do you hate talking politics at work? Or do you feel it gets in the way of doing your job? Protocol wants to talk to you for a story. We'll take the good and the bad and verified sources can be anonymous. To reach out to our reporters, reply to this email or email us directly: workplace@protocol.com.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com. Have a great weekend, see you Tuesday.

Recent Issues