Where do we find our most optimal “work selves” in a work from anywhere world? How do we maximize trust, potential, satisfaction, and productivity when nearly everything we know about work has shifted, flexed, and morphed—and continues to change? Do comfort, culture, and happiness still matter, even if they look slightly different than we might remember?
These questions are driving compelling conversations for Cheryl Durst, Executive Vice President and CEO of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), as she travels the country talking to designers about their clients.
During a visit to the Haworth showroom in Atlanta, Cheryl joined Haworth Connect, a series that engages inspiring speakers on a range of topics, to share her insights about the future of work in the post-pandemic world.
“I've been in a couple of firms recently, listening to designers and talking about their clients,” Cheryl said. “I’m hearing that people are moving away from being nostalgic about the old days and how things were before the pandemic. They’re really taking a decided look at going forward—being optimistic about the future.”
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A New Look at Work from Home
The last two years of change during the pandemic have been extreme and reactive. They’ve forced people to respond differently than they have in other disruptive situations. And now, amidst the challenges of hybrid work, people are learning to get things done in very different ways.
“We know business models and production methods are changing,” Cheryl said. “I think of 2020 and 2021 as years of unplanned reinvention. We were kind of forced to reinvent how we thought about work. How we thought about home. How we thought about learning. How we thought about healthcare. How we thought about public health.”
“In response, 2022 became the year where things got intentional,” Cheryl said. “There has been a lot of adapting and adopting new behaviors.“ She noted that 70% of the world's most admired companies right now value agility, learning, and curiosity over career history when it comes to hiring. The talent crunch that began before the pandemic has become more exacerbated. As a result, companies and organizations are starting to re-evaluate how they value their teams and staff. As recruitment is at an all-time high, employers are offering more choices to match candidate expectations.
According to Cheryl, another important statistic to note is that 80% of job candidates under the age of 35 consider a flexible remote option key to accepting a position—and if that flexible remote option is not offered, they will look elsewhere. Data reveals that candidates are accepting substantially lower pay if the offers come from companies that offer remote flexibility; have a strong brand; and focus on beliefs and solid timelines around sustainability, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
“We're in this interesting moment where purpose matters more than ever before. The cohort of candidates under the age of 35 want their organization to be able to successfully and coherently articulate the purpose of their mission.”
Executive Vice President and CEO of the IIDA
A sense of purpose greatly contributes to overall satisfaction and personal satisfaction at work. Also, people are looking for viability and vitality. Employee health and well-being were important long before the pandemic, but they are now front and center of every organization's planning.
The Human Factor
Employees want their organizations to “act more human,” Cheryl notes. This is driving conversations for HR directors around the organizational need for a greater purpose that speaks to connection, support, flexible working, and healthcare options.
This thinking also signals the connection between people and their organizations. Remote working obviously made it difficult to create a social life at work. But it has encouraged organizations to think about the social lives of their employees. Whether those employees are working remotely or they're onsite, more organizations are attempting to create bonds of connection and community among coworkers.
“We've seen a lot of examples of online channels for non-work chatting,” said Cheryl. “A lot of people sometimes use Slack for online chatting or hosting virtual charity events. There are a lot of things that companies are doing to emphasize the social health and well-being of their employees.”
More from Cheryl Durst
For more of Cheryl’s insights on creating an engaging workplace culture of purpose, meaning, and well-being, watch her full Haworth Connect presentation.