the future of work is human.

Image 1: Mara Tolja, Community Manager, Connectle — Raj Raghavan, Director and Head of Human Resources, Asia Pacific Region, Amazon. Image 2: Token of Appreciation from IPM NHRC 2017. Image 3: The wonderful presenters from the NHRC 2017.

The largest HR conference in South Asia, the National Human Resources Conference (NHRC) of 2017 was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka and I was honoured to be asked to present on “Working Out Loud and The Future of Work”. Attracting over 1000 HR professionals, the conference theme this year was ‘Emerging HR Leaders: High Tech & High Touch’.

the shift from technology to humans.

The key message in my presentation, was the shift we are currently experiencing. The shift from digital to human transformations.

Over the past decade or more, companies that have been ahead in digital and technological transformations have advanced the furtherest, and those that didn’t, have been left behind.

The next decade or more, will see a continuation of the acceleration of technology, but it is the companies that develop their people that will have the competitive advantage. Developing how employees cowork, colearn and cocreate together in a connected workplace will be what sets a company apart.

IT may have been in the driver seat up until now, but it is those that look after onboarding, innovation, talent, and learning & development, that are at the front seat of the conversation for the Future of Work.

the words are the same, but the meaning different.

We have been using the same terms for some time….
//leadership. 
//engagement. 
//collaboration. 
//innovation. 
But in the Connected Workplace, the meanings of these words have shifted.

//leadership — is not about being the smartest person with all the answers. It is about the one that is aware and responsive of what is happening around them. The people and the environment.

//employee engagement — is not about paying people the most competitive packages. It is about providing an environment that enables conversations.

//collaboration — is not about funky open plan offices and ping pong tables. It is about creating a place where it is safe to share what you are working on.

//innovation — is not a high-tech lab for the privileged few. A place to show off to theclients. It is about creating an environment that enables a culture of continuous learning.

Working in a connected workplace requires a new way of working. One in which people and the way we connect takes centre stage.

Working Out Loud and WOL Circles, help our employees navigate this shift.

the five elements of working out loud.

The five elements of Working Out Loud from the book Working Out Loud by John Stepper.

The five elements of Working Out Loud are at the heart of this workplace change. Enabling our teams to learn to work in a more responsive way.

//building relationships — the basis of community, building connections to the people and networks we need to get work done.

//making your work visible — amplifying what we are working on, so others can contribute.

//leading with generosity — changing the culture of the workplace starting with the individual. Each of us thinking first of “how I can contribute?” and “how can I help?”, rather than “what do I need?” and “what’s in it for me?”.

//having a growth mindset — simply knowing that just because you can’t do it now, just means you can’t do it YET. Particularly important with the accelerated rate of change and increased complexity in our workplaces.

//purposeful discovery — having a focus, a purpose, a goal, makes it easier to know when we achieve it.

None of these are new discoveries, in fact we have been practicing these for centuries.

ancient wisdoms.

Of all the talk of millennials and their impact on the changing workplace, much of what was suggested was ancient wisdom.

Regardless of generation, all employees are seeking a sense of belonging and purpose to their work. A sense that what they were doing was contributing to something bigger.

Leading with generosity and building relationships, is the basis of many ancient philosophies. Many people practice these at home and within their communities, we just need a little nudge to bring them back into our workplaces.

the best things happen at the edges.

Image 1: Anjale Jayawardena Growth Hacker VirtusaPolaris — Mara Tolja, Community Manager, Connectle — Madu Ratnayake, CIO, VirtusaPolaris. Image 2: Bindu Vinodhan, Founder of The Institute of Leadership Learning and Transformation — Wasanthi Vithanage, Assistant Secretary and Council Member for IPM Sri Lanka. Image 3: Mara Tolja, Community Manager, Connectle — Bindu Vinodhan, Founder of The Institute of Leadership Learning and Transformation — Smitha Murthy, Leadership & Organization Development Consultant

Like at many conferences, much of the learning and joy comes from what happens in the lobby and after the speeches are finished. Learning from other people, their experiences and and work.

Listening to the feedback on what I had talked about and how it related to their companies and initiatives helped us collectively advance our thinking and possibilities.I couldn’t help but think the same could be said for inside the company too.

It can be less about the product you are developing and more about what is happening at the edges. The spaces you provide for conversations to happen — for the connections to fuse between people and ideas.

The production of your products are merely the catalyst for future possibilities.

tell me a story.

When all was said and done, the more academic frameworks and thoughts are quickly put aside and it is the stories and the visuals that people remember long after. Talking to people after my presentation, it is these that they commented on most.

next steps.

The message of connected work and the framework of coworking, colearning and cocreating, was well received.

The future of work is not one of doom and gloom. With robots taking our jobs and workplaces losing their souls. The future of work goes beyond digital and is more about the people that remain.

It may have been that the company that advanced the most digitally was in the drivers seat for the past decade, but it is the company that develops it’s people that will have the true competitive advantage going forward.
The future of work is very much ours.

The full presentation is available on SlideShare.