Equal Opportunity. As social media and technology give everyone a voice, the playing field will continue to level out. Unfair and unjust practices will come to the surface, allowing for more equal opportunities for all.
When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.
As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Tess Trotter and Alysa Scanzano.
Tess Trotter and Alysa Scanzano have been friends for over six years. In 2016, Tess founded CEP Communications. Four years later, the brand grew to become a creative marketing agency, bringing Alysa alongside as co-founder. Together this dynamic duo aims to redefine and empower women in the workforce through their female-led and employed company.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.
Rarely in life do you meet someone who inspires and motivates you to be the best version of yourself. That is why one of the life experiences that most shaped who we are today is the moment we met one another.
We can talk for hours about our hopes and dreams, and our conversations act as stepping stones to making these dreams a reality. Our talks are filled with breakthroughs and aha moments, which we often describe as the recharge we need to be able to manage the ups and downs that come with entrepreneurship. More specifically, a conversation we had in Toronto over dirty martinis comes to mind. We discussed the importance of mindset, self-belief, and recognizing your own potential. Needless to say, this conversation represents a turning point in our professional lives… because soon after, the agency was formed.
We constantly acknowledge how much harder this journey would be if we were doing it alone. Sometimes we wonder if it would even be possible. That is because having someone who truly can relate to what you are going through is not only comforting, but has allowed us to be able to bounce ideas off each other, keep the big picture in mind, and offer necessary support to one another. We truly see each other’s potential, and we don’t let the other forget it.
Through this journey of growing the business together, we discovered a passion for empowering other women in the workforce. We’ve seen it all and know from first-hand experience how women can be treated differently. That is why our female-centric company culture not only allows women to be their authentic selves in the workplace, but allows them to also thrive in this environment by embracing more feminine attributes that may have previously been considered weaknesses.
Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?
When thinking about how the workforce and workplace will remain the same in 10–15 years, we go back to the fundamentals. The consistent, unwavering fundamentals of business success are creating structure, establishing clear goals, and keeping your team happy for increased productivity. We don’t foresee this changing.
What we predict will be different is the nature of work. We are almost certain that remote work will be the norm, and with remote work comes more employee freedom and flexibility. Adapting to this reality, while still maintaining a happy, fulfilled team, will be key for employers.
Other than remote work, it’s a bit harder to predict the future of the workforce because technology is evolving so rapidly. We can say one thing today and have a completely new system or platform introduced tomorrow that changes the game. So while we can take a guess that getting paid in crypto will be the norm in 10 years or that Web3 will completely revolutionize the digital landscape, the specifics are hard to foresee.
That being said, it is clear that as decentralization becomes more prioritized, and as the trust and power fall more on the masses, companies will need to be able to adapt. This is how we approach CEP Communications. While there is a hierarchy to some extent, the work culture presents a level playing field, and everyone has an equal chance to make an impact and have influence.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Here are some key tips on future-proofing your organization:
1 . Maintain a company culture that is not only able to exist in the remote workplace but is also able to thrive in it.
It’s much easier for remote employees to feel like another cog in the machine. By having a strong company culture, they will be able to feel that connection and camaraderie. Remote work is still in the beginning stages and there is a lot for all of us to learn, but we believe that nailing down the work culture is crucial for job satisfaction and productivity.
2. Adopt CRM systems to reduce human error and improve scalability.
Zoho, ActiveCollab, and Basecamp are just a few, but there are many more out there. Find what works best for you and your team. As remote work becomes the norm, having these systems in place will be crucial.
3. Create an authentic purpose-driven business model.
Younger generations are increasingly opting to put passion over profit. In order for them to have a stake in your company, they will need to feel like they are part of something meaningful, something that is larger than them.
4. You must remain adaptable to an ever-changing business landscape.
If technology and COVID are teaching us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. We never know what tomorrow will bring, so remaining adaptable and flexible is a key to growth.
What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?
We have been noticing that more entry-level employees are wanting to move up the ladder quickly and pursue that next professional milestone right away. Perhaps social media and the new-age pressure to establish more of a personal brand online is a factor in this race to the top. And while these ambitions are not necessarily a bad thing, it is important for the employer to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Employers need to give team members the appropriate amount of responsibility based on their experience and allow them to go through a necessary learning phase. That being said, it’s up to employers to take in team member feedback and insight, allowing team members the freedom to bring their own special qualities to the role. This will help with overall job satisfaction and fulfillment at each stage they’re in.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
As mentioned, we have no doubt that remote work is the future. Many companies who went through COVID know that it’s possible, and sometimes more cost-effective, to have a remote team. With this change, the need for virtual collaboration amongst team members will continue to rise. Employers will need to know how to maintain productivity, company culture, and structure in this new reality. While there are no standard best practices in place for remote teams since it is still so new, employers need to know what works best for their team to ensure operations are uninterrupted. CEP Communications has a fully remote team, so we definitely know what it is like to learn as we go. It’s like we’re writing our own blueprint for effective remote team practices. The blueprint will have to be adjusted here and there along the way, but it’s important that we have it in order to be prepared for the future of work.
We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?
Technology is overtaking everyone’s lives, both professionally and personally. With this advancement, convenience and embracing technology in everyday life will be crucial in order to support the future of work. Technological adaptation will need to happen across the board.
In addition, people will need to adopt more of a self-starter mentality in order to keep up with the demands and expectations of a remote workforce. Employers won’t even have the option to heavily micromanage a remote team, so organization and reliability will jump to the top of the desired attributes list for companies that are hiring.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
The powers of technology and social media have allowed everyone to have a voice. Because people use social media to shed light on their experiences, there is a greater responsibility for companies and individuals to act ethically. Everyone is almost forced to be mindful of their actions for the greater good because they know they can easily be called out and held accountable on social media by a wronged employee or customer. #CancelCulture is real. And the outcome is a much more inclusive, fair society. Employees and customers can find comfort in knowing that their voice matters and that they hold some control and power.
Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?
We believe the mental health of a team is of the utmost importance. Here are a few tips to improve and optimize your team’s mental health and wellbeing:
- Prioritize team insight, feedback, and happiness.
- Create a sense of purpose within the company’s mission.
- Value each team member and their role in helping a company grow. Appreciation is key.
- Ensure proper work-life balance.
- Encourage transparency and honest communication.
- Create roles based on the unique personality and strengths of each team member.
It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?
It’s clear to us from these headlines and our own personal experience that employees are no longer putting up with mistreatment or working in an environment that lacks purpose in order to get a paycheck. What employers need to know is that purpose outweighs profit for this newer work generation. That is why it’s crucial to adopt a purpose-driven model.
In addition, employee retention is huge for success so maintaining an awesome work culture and allowing employees to grow within the company is very important. If someone is fulfilled in their position, chances are they will not re-evaluate. Part of this job satisfaction comes from the employer truly valuing their team and what they bring to the table.
For CEP Communications, we aimed to create roles and a work culture that we needed earlier in our careers. We took Ayesha Siddiqi’s quote, “Be the person you needed when you were younger,” and applied it to the workplace.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
As remote work becomes commonplace, we expect to see an increase in globalization occur. More organizations will aim to digitize the way their workplace operates to benefit the team and help drive growth.
2. Purpose-Driven Business Models.
With the newer generation entering the workforce, more employees will strive to be a part of something bigger than themselves. We know this will be a priority for most in the coming years, as we are already hearing prospective employees share their interest in CEP Communications because of what we stand for as a female-led and employed agency.
3. Equal Opportunity.
As social media and technology give everyone a voice, the playing field will continue to level out. Unfair and unjust practices will come to the surface, allowing for more equal opportunities for all.
4. Women in Power Positions.
Women are finding their voice and are becoming more and more recognized and celebrated in positions of power.
5. Destigmatizing Mental Health.
The importance of mental health and wellbeing is continuing to rise, and this will greatly affect work culture and business practices as we know it.
I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?
“Be Your Dream Girl”
We’ve been on a self-love and self-acceptance journey, and this quote really sticks with us. We use it on each other when we feel a lack of motivation because it encompasses all of what we strive for — success, self-love, happiness, and health. This quote encourages us to act as our higher selves, even when we don’t feel like it.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.
We aim to align ourselves with like-minded entrepreneurs whose mission is to empower businesswomen. Conna Walker, CEO and Founder of House Of CB, does just this through her recurring contests that gift women-owned businesses cash injection prizes. We also love how she utilizes social media to share business knowledge with her audience. Our mindsets, goals, and mission are very similar, and we’re sure this would lead to some great conversations and maybe even more aha moments.
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.