19 Sub Questions on ’The Future of Work’

Yesterday i shared a series of questions around the first two elements of this framework – it’s an enquiry framework for Teams to explore what type of ‘future of work’ they desire. Today, i’m adding a second layer of sub questions under the first section. I’m republishing the whole piece as i have also edited and adapted the main body text.

Location – Where We Work

QUESTION about SPACE – “What do you want to do with your ‘Space’?”

This question considers your relationship with architecture and geography: it’s often the first aspect considered when exploring the ‘Future of Work’.

Potential Outcomes could include:

  • Reducing owned Space
  • Adapting owned Space
  • Sharing owned Space with others
  • Removing owned Space altogether
  • Developing a more fluid relationship with Partnered Spaces

Sub Questions:

  1. Will your ‘future work’ require the same, or a different amount of, space? And will that space itself vary from the legacy functionally defined model ?
  2. Is the footprint of your ‘Space’ a long term or short term question? Does the answer differ when you answer from an economic, legal, or cultural perspective? And what is the balance between these three forces?
  3. Does your relationship with built space define your, enable you, or something else?
  4. What is the relationship between space and effectiveness? How would you articulate this?
  5. Articulate and explore how culture and space are related – is there a ‘culture particle’ that lives in the carpets, or is it something else, or held in a different way?

QUESTION about BELONGING – “How will people ‘belong’ to your Organisation?”

We don’t just join an Organisation legally: we also come to ‘Belong’ to it – a socially moderated feeling of being part of something. This question asks how that relationship is formed.

Potential Outcomes could include:

  • Maintaining a purely Employed model of Belonging
  • Developing an Engaged model, where Employment is complimented by more fluid types of bond whereby people come and go as opposed to staying then leaving
  • An Aligned model, where people never ‘join’, but they do ‘belong’ – Partnerships
  • Connected models where people never directly work, and are never employed, yet nonetheless contribute to success – our Communities and Networks fall into this space – and may need to be recognised, catered for, and even rewarded.

Sub Questions:

  1. What does it mean ‘to belong’? And why does belonging matter, if indeed it does?
  2. Is your ‘future work’ likely to need a stronger, or weaker, sense of belonging?
  3. How long does it take to belong – and do you need to meet in person to do so?
  4. Can ‘meeting’ be separated from ‘working’?
  5. If people cease to belong, do they automatically leave – or can you turn up yet not belong? And if so, how would you know? And what would the cost be?
  6. Map out what ‘belonging’ would look like in your future of work model.

QUESTION about PLACE – “How do your people find, or construct, their sense of Place?”

An Organisation maintains a discrete sense of ‘Place’ – the sanctified space of the office. As our relationship with ‘space’ changes, so too does our sense of ‘place’. This question explores how that sense of Place is created, and how we can maintain, or build upon it, when people may be more distributed.

Potential Outcomes could include:

  • Exploring whether existing Roles suit the future state, or if they are linked to legacy space
  • Considering the role of Artefacts as we disperse – and how they tie us to Place
  • Exploring the role of Rituals – and how they evolve, are scripted, or change, dispersed – and what we need them for and why

Sub questions:

  1. Can a sense of ‘place’ exist without an office – or with an evolved type of office? And if it can, will be be stronger, weaker, better, or worse?
  2. Is sense of place an individual, or collective, phenomena? And in either case, how is it generated?
  3. Will you need to engineer, or support, ‘belonging’ in your future of work – and if so, who is responsible?
  4. How will you know if you are succeeding or failing?

QUESTION about OWNERSHIP – “Who will be the Owner, or Guardian, of your future ‘Place of Work’?”

Space is always owned, and hence controlled. As you evolve your ‘Work of Place’, consider how the space is arbitrated and moderated.

Potential Outcomes could include:

  • Looking at the role of Leaders at every level, and the balance between enablement and control.
  • Exploring the role and purpose of your Communities – what you seek from them, and how you connect with them
  • Considering the place of Alumni and the relationships you maintain
  • Looking at who controls Space – in a hybrid model will there still be desks, or will space itself be democratised?
  • Looking at who controls Time – will the future be 9-5 or mixed, and if so, how will it be fair?

Sub questions:

  1. Does everyone need to ‘work’ the same way in your future of work – and if not, how will you ensure fairness?
  2. Will the pattern of work be fixed or fluid? If fluid, how will you ensure it does not set solid?
  3. If hybrid, and elective, how will you support it?
  4. Is there any missing capability -and if so, is it a ‘known’ one we can give, or an emergent one we must learn?

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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