It’s impossible to read any business publication these days and not come away with the understanding that senior executives, functional leaders, and other business professionals are spending a lot of think time under the same topic umbrella—the future of work.
Some are asking the questions you’d expect: What will work encompass? Who will do it and where? When will people work and how?
But at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), we’re about to take those future-of-work questions to a new level with our upcoming Q1 study, From Cube to Cloud.
We’ll keep who, what where, when, and how in mind, but our focus will be on the ways those changes in work affect three core pillars of business results and overall success. From Cube to Cloud will examine how high-performance organizations will enable effective collaboration, innovation, and employees’ sense of connection and belonging in the hybrid work environments that are now emerging and expected to characterize future business models.
The role of traditional workplaces, the importance of relationships and social capital (especially in the context of distributed work environments), and the value that clear commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and sense of belonging contributes to the broader employee experience are areas of inquiry we expect to figure prominently in the study. So will emphasis on healthy cultures and digital technologies as important enablers and tools of powerful collaboration, innovation, and connection.
Curiosity about what lies over the horizon drives our research agendas every year, and in this unique time when business leaders spent the past months dealing with the unimaginable and looking beyond the obvious to find ways to sustain their organizations and their workforces, we believe that applying new depths of creativity to explore the three core concepts in this study will resonate.
In fact we know it will. Because business leaders’ own words confirm that the central elements informing From Cube to Cloud are the next-generation challenges they need to address.
When Chief Executive magazine convened 11 CEOs from large-cap companies to talk about their organizations’ digital strategies for the future, Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes spoke about the challenge of culture in the wake of a major change (merger), marshaling employees around the company’s mission, and maintaining relationships with remote workers:
“People are putting in more hours because they’re not commuting. … Productivity metrics are up because people are more focused. But the number of patent applications within our portfolio is down by over 50 percent this year. So, we’re getting work done, but we’re not getting innovation done because we’re not collaborating as well. … How do we work better to get people to collaborate and innovate in a digital world?”
Arvind Krishna, CEO of IBM, expressed concern that adding new talent during a period of extended remote working would eventually result in an erosion of innovative capability:
“My fear is that we are living on social capital. … When new people come on in, they haven’t accumulated the social capital with their peers and with others.” He observes that “you can live off your prior social capital and people will cross to you, people will use it, [but] at some point, you run through it. I worry once you run out of all the things you accumulated, how do you create that?”
It’s clear that Hayes, Krishna, and other business leaders are ready to ask questions beyond the usual ones raised when the topic turns to the future of work. i4cp’s From Cube to Cloud research aims to provide the future-focused answers and insights top executives in the vanguard of tomorrow need to confidently lead their organizations forward.
Carol Morrison is a Senior Research Analyst at i4cp