In order to adapt to the future employee and future manager, organizations need to follow a process that will help them to change and fit into the future of work. A workable process would look something like this:

Step 1: Challenge existing, conventional assumptions

The first thing to do is to question prevalent ways of doing things in the organization so that viable alternatives can be thought of. Ask why things are the way they are. This can be done in person, at meetings, through a survey, by email etc. If these questions are asked in public, it is more transparent and open to change. Listen to responses on how change can be effected or listen to justifications on why things cannot be changed and then decide which way to go.

Step 2: Build a team to take this forward

Organize a team of dedicated people who will study how the world of work is changing and will implement programs to make it happen. This team has to define the future of work and explain it to employees, educate and train them, develop strategies for change, empower employees to execute changes. There has to be a two-way communication between the team and employees. The team has to be empowered with resources – financial, manpower admin support – to effect the change, and they have to be supported and sponsored by top management.

Step 3: Define “future of work”

Clearly spell out what the future of work is for your organization in terms of

  • work – what does work mean in your company, how do employees work – full time, freelancer etc
  • employee – what is the role, how do they relate to others, organizational reporting structures, how are they to be paid
  • managers –role and function, are they team leaders or mentors or advisors or what
  • organization – ways of operating, organizational structure, how is it different from the current structure and processes

Step 4: Communicate your definition of your “future of work”

Your vision of the company’s future of work has to be clearly communicated to all stakeholders.  Make it public so that everyone can see what it is, even those who are thinking of applying to your company for a job. Talk about it in meetings with internal and external stakeholders, in presentations both internal and with the outside world, through press releases, through all forms of media, through workshops, public speeches. Keep your communication simple and easy to understand. Break up the overall vision into smaller, executable bits so that people know what to do and what to expect in the future.

Step 5: Experiment, empower employees to initiate and execute change

The more you experiment the more you tighten your approaches and systems. So take chances, try out different ways and encourage employees to do the same whether at the departmental level or at the organizational level. Support the weaker teams. Handle problem areas so that impediments to change are removed. Give your people the authority to make the change. Responsibility has to be supported by the power to do something.

Step 6: Implement broad based change

Make changes that impact the whole organization. Plan what you want to do, be clear why you want to make this particular change and then go ahead with it. Be prepared to modify approaches that don’t work. And finally be committed in what you are doing. Only then will you be successful in dealing with the future of work.