The End of the World As We Know It

By Tamara McCleary, CEO, Thulium

An excerpt from Tamara’s latest LinkedIn post. See the full post here.

We don’t have to peer into a crystal ball to see our future. The writing is already on the wall. Our culture, attention span, expectations, preferences, and our current behavior patterns point us in the trajectory of where we are headed—and are shaping our work in the future. At the hub of our global culture shift is technology. The introduction of new capabilities, faster processing speeds, lower latency, disruptions in organizational structure, and paradigm shifts in how, when and where we work are shaking things up. In an era of human-machine partnerships, collectively as a global economy, we are changing how we do business.

As the CEO of Thulium, a global social media marketing agency, I’m living these changes. Our employee base is built upon a remote workforce. Our employees are geographically distributed to service our global clientele, that cover more than 20 time zones in 180 countries. Running an organization built entirely around a remote workforce has its rewards and challenges. With the growing gig economy, (the gig economy defined by an economic sector consisting of freelance, part-time, and temporary jobs), I envision the challenges and opportunities our organization faces with a remote workforce will not be too dissimilar to the challenges, and opportunities faced by organizations in the future.

Create Experiences for Your Internal Customers

We want more, and expect more, don’t we? Those of us focused on business growth objectives are keenly aware of the “Experience Economy.” This is where our customers and their loyalty are dependent upon their perceived experience with our entire organization…not simply the product or service.

We are looking for exceptional experiences, but there’s more to the story. It’s not only our external customers. Our internal customers are also demanding meaningful experiences and growth. Part of the expanding experience economy is an increase in workers seeking more flexibility in their work schedules to craft a life they enjoy.

Danielle Guzman, Global Head of Social Media & Distributed Content at Mercer, stresses 3 key pillars that organizations must invest in when looking to increase employee engagement and satisfaction:

1. workplace culture
2. physical environment
3. technology platforms

Having an entirely remote workforce, I haven’t the luxury of controlling physical environment. However, looking at the future of work, and even the growing gig economy, many organizations will have to place a greater emphasis on culture and the ability to harness technology to augment the lack of a shared workspace. I’ve made workplace culture mission critical within our organization and involve our employees in actively co-creating our company’s culture, a culture of collaboration versus competition. We utilize technologies such as video conferencing to achieve cohesion within our organization.

Enable Real-time Collaboration from Anywhere

According to Dell Technology’s Realizing 2030 report, “Over the next decade, organizations that aim to foster collaboration will work to empower workers by cultivating the real-time collaboration practices already embedded in gaming, coding and distributed communities.”

“Community and collaboration directly play into employee experience, engagement, satisfaction, and company culture, especially with a geographically distributed workforce.”

—Tamara McCleary, CEO, Thulium

I find Thulium’s use of the real-time collaboration platform, Slack, a critical function in creating community among our remote workforce. Community and collaboration directly play into employee experience, engagement, satisfaction, and company culture, especially with a geographically distributed workforce. “Collaboration platforms such as Slack, Discord and Github offer clues to the social norms, cultural practices and workers’ expectations that will inform how work is completed a decade from now. For teams that are geographically distributed, these tools help facilitate constant connection and coherent, team-based actions,” according to Realizing 2030.

Change How and When You Pay Employees

Looking at how technologies (i.e. smart phones, video conferencing, collaboration platforms, etc.) are completely reinventing the workplace—the gig economy is also changing the payment space. In the Realizing 2030 report, research found that “by people being paid as soon as they’ve earned it, we can reduce the need for payday loans and other such instruments to plug spending gaps, as well as improve peace of mind.”

Jeanniey Mullen, Chief Marketing Officer of Daily Pay, Inc. agrees. “As we continue to reimagine the future of work, the future of the employee and the future of work-life balance, we need to be excited to start with the most basic needs of our employees, access to their earned wages daily, which will create an improved culture, a happier workforce and a stronger bottom line.”

“According to Forbes, Millennials and Gen Z will comprise more than 75% of the workforce by 2025, and they have very different needs and expectations from previous generations when it comes to how they want to be paid,” says Mullen. “They will want to choose how they get paid, based on their needs, and they will want control over their earned wages to reduce financial stress and increase financial security.”

“ERINs (Employees Requiring Income Now) require their earned wages today — not tomorrow, not next week, not on payday — but now, in order to support themselves, their family and take steps toward financial wellness.”

—Jeanniey Mullen, Chief Marketing Officer, Daily Pay, Inc.

Mullen further defined changes in our future workforce. “The majority of today’s employees can be called “ERINs” (Employees Requiring Income Now). ERINs require their earned wages today — not tomorrow, not next week, not on payday — but now, in order to support themselves, their family and take steps toward financial wellness. Almost eight out of 10 in your workforce today are ERINs. They are financially unprepared for an unexpected medical expense, and they can’t get to work if their car breaks down, or they can’t buy gas.”

If you have an adult child living in your basement, you are quite familiar with ERINs! I personally relate to the description of the ERIN, as I have two young adult children newly entering the workforce who reflect the description offered by Mullen.

Care for All Generations

The next leap, says Mullen, is Gen Z in the workforce who are true digital natives. “They could text on their phones, work on their computers, and watch Netflix — all at the same time. As adults, they appreciate apps and technology that give them control and provide instant value.”

“I’m a Gen Xer, and slightly miffed we aren’t talked about (and were never talked about), yet our generation is sitting in C-suites around the globe today. We’ve flown under the radar like Ninjas, kicking business ass and taking names—and we’ll still be in the game ten years from now.”

—Tamara McCleary, CEO, Thulium

But, it’s not just Millennials and Gen Z reshaping and reinventing our work, it’s those of us in the smallest generational cohort, the forgotten “middle child” generation—the “latch key kids” who raised ourselves and remain sandwiched between the Millennials and the Boomers. Yes, I’m a Gen Xer, and slightly miffed we aren’t talked about (and were never talked about), yet our generation is sitting in C-suites around the globe today. We’ve flown under the radar like Ninjas, kicking business ass and taking names—and we’ll still be in the game ten years from now.

In the words of the American rock band, R.E.M., “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” And yeah, I really do feel fine.

This post was sponsored by Dell Technologies, however (as you can tell), the opinions, thoughts and observations were all mine! Read the full post here.