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Emma O'Connor
Emma O'Connor,
HEAD OF TRAINING
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The future of work - making work, work for all
02 October 2018

Thank you to all who joined us at our Future of Work Conference on 27 September 2018 in London. The Conference marked the launch on our latest technology sector report - Building Agile Businesses in a Changing World.  

So how do we make work, work for all and how can we create agile, change ready workforces? 

“Only businesses who are prepared to adapt will survive …”

Creating flexible, adaptable workspaces and workforces, ready to meet the challenges of the future – be it social, generational or political/economic – was the topic under discussion last week. Agility is more than just a “buzzword” and the Conference was an opportunity for Boyes Turner to share the discussions it is having with clients and influencers around agility and changing workplace mind-sets. We were thrilled to be joined by 2 keynote speakers: Giles Derrington, Head of Policy for Brexit, International and Economics from techUK and Bertie van Wyk of Herman Miller who helped us bring the topic to life and launch our Report. We even had something very special at lunchtime to coincide with the agile theme!

How do we become a “Destination Employer”?

Andrew Whiteaker and Emma O’Connor led the legal discussion. Andrew commented on recent studies and trends which challenge the “traditional” Monday-Friday/9am-5pm working week.  He discussed the pros and cons of flexible working for organisations and individuals alike, raising recent commentary on "flexism" in the workplace as well as raising issues such as #workingfromtrain and asking whether our quest to be flexible and agile has led us to become slaves to the technology set to free us.  Emma continued this discussion by looking at those issues which are creeping onto the HR agenda now and which will impact on our future workforces.  Generational diversity, shifts in attitudes to shared parental leave and external pressures on our workforces from caring responsibilities will all have an impact on our policies, processes and people management.  She focused on how changing social influences can impact upon your workplace cultures and what some of the obstacles to creating adaptable and flexible workplaces can be.

Both Andrew and Emma shared their own experiences working with clients from different sectors as well as what other organisations are doing to attract, engage and retain their people when budgets are tight – being a “Destination Employer”. One particular take way, was the need to have well-trained managers, who understand their roles and responsibilities being able to proactively deal with and manage employee issues.  

“The Report is excellent and at the right time”

So said Giles Derrington, Head of Policy for Brexit, International and Economics from techUK who helped us launch our Technology Sector Report.  A copy of our report can be downloaded HERE.  

Boyes Turner has surveyed organisations and commentators within the technology sector for their views on workplace agility and how businesses can remain agile in a changing world. Being agile is about adopting new ways of working and thinking, influencing workplace design, employment, and employee needs.

Giles spoke about the challenges for organisations  - not just in the technology sector – from the uncertainties of Brexit both in terms of maintaining our existing workforces but also in recruiting new people. Giles also commented that be it deal or no deal, Brexit will have implications on your business, your clients, your suppliers, and partners and we needed to focus on the opportunities and the risks it will bring. In the new world order post-Brexit, businesses need to respond to changing technology needs and developments.  

Giles also discussed staffing and talent – issues high on the HR agenda.  With a skills shortage, particularly in digital skills globally, there is fierce competition for talent.  Flowing on from our morning discussion, Giles asked how businesses were going to attract and retain their people.  As technology moves forward, will artificial intelligence play a part? Will we have a reduced need for people?  Giles’s answer was that in reality jobs will change, but we will still need people, which is very much in line with the results of our agility survey.  

“HR – you don’t know how important your job is about to become!”

Was the rousing comment from Bertie van Wyk, Insight Manager from Herman Miller. Bertie’s inspiring presentation focused on how we can use social ergonomics to create workspaces which have the wellbeing of our workers at its heart. Bertie built from our morning discussion of how making small changes to our workplaces can create huge shifts in the employee experience, making our people feel more connected, productive and healthier. Workspaces which allow our people to share knowledge, work together collaboratively – but which also have “haven spaces” – were essential. Bertie shared how other organisations have created workspaces with natural workspace barriers, giving privacy to those who crave it, but then open areas where teams can work together. We also heard how even in a hot-desking environment, it is still important to feel as though that is your space, if only for one day.  

A truly inspiring discussion and insight into modern workspaces and how science is playing its part in creating a change ready, agile workforce.

Agile workforces – a call to action

As we move forward with some uncertainty, our Conference was about taking a step back and looking at where we are in our business, what might be the future factors influencing our people and business? In our busy working life, it is important to reflect and share ideas with others and this is what our Conference last week achieved. However, we must not forget that HR can influence the direction of the business, be it through investing in technology, training our managers and people on their legal responsibilities or helping to create future focused workspaces.  

Join the discussion – get involved, share your thoughts and ideas. #TechBeQuick

To find out more about this or any other employment issues please contact the employment team by email at [email protected].

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.

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