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Can the ‘Future of Work’ Survive the Future?

“The world of being in five days in the office has disappeared”. These executive technology leaders discussed the ideal future of work scenario and how it may evolve.

The technology industry has been hit by a number of macro-events and challenges over the last few years, leaving the future of work uncertain and unpredictable. The speakers of this roundtable debate discussed what the ideal future of work looks like in their respective organisations and how that is likely to change, given the data available to them at this time. Discover topics exploring the role of the hybrid workplace and critical business innovations for the future. 


With Bridgid Nzekwu moderating this roundtable debate, the speakers include:



Creativity and the ideal future of work 


“As a future organisation, you want to be adaptive creators and resilient”, said CIO Executive Partner & Senior Analyst at Forrester, Phil Brunkard. 


He argued that this mindset would allow technology leaders to “dynamically respond” to whatever challenges the business faces. Phil also believes that businesses should have cross-functional teams working together to achieve this. By having the right practices in place, he explained that this will result in clear alignment between business needs and how to deliver “creative means”. 


Expanding on his point, Phil outlined the idea of “applying technology in innovative ways” as an example of creativity within the business. By having the right skills and talent within the workforce, it becomes easier to adopt emerging technology that’s most appropriate for the organisation. “It’s about being adaptive, creative and resilient”, he stated.


Former CISO at Legal & General, David King, agreed with Phil’s take on this. 


“If the workforce is scalable, that’s an important part of going forward”, he said. David stated that businesses are going through what he described as “rough times”. Using creativity to scale up and scale back to new business opportunities, he believes, is key. One way of achieving this is by unlocking the potential of people working remotely as well as those in the office. “We’ve got to think creatively about how we can actually do that”, he argued.

The human aspect

Moving on from creativity, CTO at IP Dividual, Fergus Boyd, focused on the human aspect of the ideal future of work. In the world of hospitality, he thinks about what added-value things humans can do and what systems should do. He wants technology leaders to think back to the question: “How can systems be complementary?”. 


In his view, this means humans and systems working collaboratively together. In an example, he argued that he doesn’t want to see robots delivering cocktails to tables or people doing low-value transactions like check-ins, which can be done digitally. He explained that it’s about “delineating the two roles and not blurring them”.


Flexibility and the future of work


Imperial College London’s CIO, Juan Villamil, added some new key words to the debate. He focused on being flexible, smart and hybrid. 


“The world of being in five days in the office has disappeared”, Juan stated. In response to this, the future workforce will become more flexible and smarter in the way they interact with each other in the workplace. “We still need to come together because that’s where we get creativity. That’s where we share ideas,” he added. Juan explained that no matter what working environment you’re in, the workforce needs to collaborate and learn from each other.


CTO at Times Higher Education, Freddie Quek, agreed with the use of the keywords adaptability and flexibility. 


When discussing flexibility, Freddie thinks about flexible working for employees and flexible workspaces. He added another keyword of his own to the mix, arguing that it applies to everyone. “This is about embracing the concept of disruption”, he said. 


Freddie explained that disruption to the business is not always a bad thing; it can have its benefits. When facing your “greatest challenge”, he stated that this can lead to opportunities. The key to this, according to Freddie, is embracing this disruption as a good thing and looking at it from a different perspective.


Moderator Bridgid Nzekwu asked the President of EMEA at Box, Sebastien Marotte, to elaborate on this point. 


He stated that the future of work is today, not in the future. “What we have seen in the last two years is absolutely incredible in terms of how much things have changed compared to the last 10 years”, said Sebastien. He noted that now, work can happen anytime from anywhere, with people doing work from their devices. When thinking about trends he has seen in the market, Sebastien talked about digital-first. He argued that every employee, customer and partner are using digital-first to dictate their work and tasks. 


The last trend he mentioned was security. “Security is super important since content and data are at the heart of the business”, he explained. He stated that making sure security is a priority within organisations is key.


This roundtable was recorded at The Studio and made in partnership with Box.