The Future of Work in Uncertain Times

I was recently interviewed by Catherine Gillings with Talent IQ, LLC. Catherine and I know each other well and have had discussions about the-future-of-work in the past, but the questions she asked were particularly timely in light of today’s challenging times. The below is a summary of our conversation.

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Watch the full interview by clicking here.

Are there ways in which you are now personally working differently?For starters, I’ve begun adhering to what I call “transition periods” in my day-to-day life.

In most cases, “work” for everyone has moved online and into our homes. Pre-COVID, I would go into the office every day and have my time there, working, taking meetings, and such before returning home and to my life there with my family. The transition between the two worlds was made evident by time, space and feeling. Now, for many—myself included—the lines are blurred. For those of us used to getting in the car or on public transportation each day for our commute, there were a lot of indicators that reminded us that it was the beginning of the day or the end of the day; work time versus home time.

One wake-up call I had took place a few weeks into working from home. At 11:00 a.m., I looked down at my smart watch and saw that my step count was at 34. That means I got up, made my way through my bedroom and bathroom to my office where I sat for four hours. I realized that something needed to change. As a result of this wake-up call, I now schedule things like “start work” or “take a walk” in my calendar in an effort to reinforce the transitions that are no longer built into my day.

With fewer traditional avenues for leadership development available right now, how will you develop leaders in the next 18 months or so?
As someone who’s in the business of developing leaders, both at universities and at Talent Path, I’m hoping we can do this through several types of training—and not just video chatting. Of all the skills that a true leader has, the one I’m most passionate about is emotional intelligence. Even highly technical, skilled workers need to be able to articulate the value of their work, stand up in front of a room full of people to present, and work well as part of a team. 

That being said, developing emotional intelligence in this climate is challenging. When a group of future leaders are together in an immersive learning environment, we (the folks training them) understand that everyone learns in different ways. Some people are visual learners, some prefer to talk things through, and others learn through experience, truly seeing things happen happen in front of them. The ways in which you best learn relate to your personality type, and now that a lot of training has moved online, we’re not ignorant to the idea that it’s not going to work for everybody. 

In this time, we can further develop emotional intelligence by identifying the best way for each individual trainee to learn. Once we have that, we can invest in them by utilizing different modalities. 

Managing people has also changed, as many employees work remotely while others are still going to a much quieter workplace. So how are you leading differently because of COVID-19?
Personalization. I’m leading differently by interacting with each of my team members differently. To me, this is an interesting topic that goes back to questions one and two: I’m allowing for more transition time and not falling into the trap of video chatting everyone all day long. Just as I’m working on giving myself breaks, so are my coworkers. Scheduling a phone call with a coworker where we both agree to take walks makes a lot of sense right now. It all goes back to modalities, to giving yourself space, and the ways through which people learn, work, and feel the best. So when I think about how I want to lead during this time, I know that I’ve got to do it in a manner that’s tailored to each person I work with—manners that work best for them.

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