From the 9 to 5 hustle to flexibility; from flexibility to fluidity - the world of work has seen monumental shifts in the past few years. As we’ve all settled into this new world of remote work, new terms have evolved to describe these changes. In preparation for a looming recession, organizations should focus on a collective perspective that emphasizes belonging. This ensures that employees feel secure in their work and have a safe space to thrive. Hybridity and fluidity are key pieces to achieving the workplace we want to see.
What’s in a name?
We are very familiar with the need for flexibility in our day-to-day work lives. Flexibility promotes work-life balance and a sense of putting family first - there are all apparent lessons we learned from our COVID days. But as remote work life became more of a norm, flexibility has transformed into something even more intricate. In our Building Culture podcast episode with Darren Murph, Head of Remote at GitLab and renowned thought leader in this space, he says that fluidity is the new flexibility. For example, being able to work around picking up your child from school or having time to schedule a vet visit has become more widely accepted. You must have trust to have true fluidity in a hybrid work environment.
Below are 4 aspects where we see fluidity successfully applied to the world of work.
1. Your work stack
Think back to your work environment from 5 years ago. Were you using Slack and Zoom on a regular basis? Remote work has popularized a great many software tools and applications to make our lives easier. That’s the key to ensuring that a remote work-life experience is equivalent to being in-office. Gather all resources, tools, and materials in an accessible place (think Notion, Google Drive, or Box) and make sure that everybody knows where they are. Documentation is imperative! This is a lot harder than you may think :)
2. Navigating boundaries
As we mentioned, fluidity frequently involves switching between work and personal engagements. Working from anywhere has its perks (no pun intended), but it’s a fair exchange. You must stay disciplined and have good time management in order to be successful at both your personal and professional responsibilities. It’s okay navigating in and out, but if you aren’t a person who can adapt to this workflow, establish boundaries on when to start and end your work day if you are working from home.
3. Personal learning & development
We’ve all come to terms with remote or hybrid work life. It’s not unusual to feel like an island while working remotely - you can’t necessarily access another individual in real-time for any questions you may have. To be as efficient as possible, you must learn different skillsets in order to succeed in your role. You can think of yourself being more or less a department of one when you work from home, but consider that you have an infinite amount of resources available to you. How are you being intentional in asking for different opportunities within your organization? If it benefits you professionally, it also benefits the organization since organizations are made up of people.
Moreover, younger professionals are interested in being their own entity, and with that comes ownership, a founder mentality, and the ability to span multiple disciplines. With half of the workforce in 2030 expected to be made up of Millennials and Gen Z employees, this is a trend organizations should be aware of.
4. Emphasis on DEIB
Speaking of younger professionals, the importance of self-identity and establishing presence in their places of work is vital for them to thrive. They like to understand how they contribute to the organization and perhaps have fuller context to be able to support the organization well. With that type of founder mentality, it is extremely important for organizations to establish an environment of belonging. As you know, belonging is a direct measure of putting DEI into practice.
Compared to the start of the pandemic, the future of work isn’t all that different now from how it will be in 10 years. We’re still focusing on flexibility and hybridity, but have introduced the concept of fluid work to encapsulate the things that matter. These ideas are also making their way into public consciousness - Forbes recently released their new Future of Work 50 list, which you should visit to keep a pulse on the ongoing conversation. Everyone loves efficiency, and highlighting different areas that we can support fluidity within an organization will be a constant topic of discussion in the HR world. So buckle up for the ride - fluidity isn’t going anywhere!