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Why Should I Care About the “Future of Work” [And What Does That Even Mean]

Why Should I Care About the “Future of Work” [And What Does That Even Mean]

Why Should I Care About the “Future of Work” [And What Does That Even Mean]

8 Minute Read
FOFO business leaders not listening

The future of work describes changes in how work will get done over the coming years as influenced by technological, generational and societal shifts.

What does Future of Work even mean?

Like many phrases, the “future of work” has been a term thrown around for a long time in conferences and such and is a buzzword people use, but many don’t really understand what it means.

We found Deloitte has a pretty good (and simple) definition:

“We define the future of work as a result of many forces of change affecting three deeply connected dimensions of an organization: the work (the what), the workforce (the who), and the workplace (the where).”

When we dig into the technological, generational and social shifts taking place, we see very clearly that organizations today face extraordinary challenges. So, the “future of work” can be very elusive and difficult to map out when things change at speeds never seen before. From the likes of the global pandemic situation, to adapting to new technologies, competitors, customer needs, and social norms, it seems that every development is coming in at rates that we haven’t seen before.

What we see happening right now is that major companies are being disrupted daily, staff is feeling more and more disengaged, and customers are demanding new, innovative ways to connect.

Technology and the Future of Work

McKinsey & Company released a study in 2020 that explored How COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point—and transformed business forever.

What they found surrounding COVID-19 in particular is that it pushed companies over the “technology tipping point” and transformed business forever. According to the Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, “We saw two years-worth of digital transformation take place in the first two months [of COVID-19]”.

In the eCommerce space, the changes were even more dramatic as the need to replace physical channels prevalent prior to COVID-19 became a life-or-death decision for many companies. Numerous reports and analysis confirm that COVID-19 forced more digital transformation to organizations in 3 months than over the past 10 years-worth of efforts by organizations and consulting firms combined. Every single industry has had to face new challenges that they need to learn how to overcome.

We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months”
Satya Nadella Chairman & CEO of Microsoft

To help organizations adapt to these challenges, technology platforms have had to step up, with many reports showing how tech outperformed the broader market. Specifically, the entire sector was up about 40% in the calendar year of 2020 alone.

The study by McKinsey & Company also looked at how the workplace environment has shifted and digitization has accelerated supply-chain interactions and internal operations by three to four years! Even more shocking, was that the share of digital or digitally-enabled products in their portfolios accelerated by seven years!

The point? In order to stay competitive in this new business and economic environment it requires companies to think outside the box and come up with better ways to collaborate and to dramatically change their internal practices.

Senior Executives are taking note and recognize technology’s strategic importance as a critical component of the business, not just a source of cost efficiencies.

In another study, G2’s 2022 Trends report on Software for the Hybrid Workplace showed that businesses in 2022 have begun to shift their focus from managing a hybrid office to achieving and maintaining efficient modes of communication in the post-pandemic work environment. 

The future of work around technology is that companies must find better solutions to remote working and remote collaboration. These two priorities sit at the top of the list that executives and organizations MUST look at and respond to immediately, or be left behind. 

The future of work around technological changes isn’t in the future anymore, it’s imperative to look at ways to enhance the hybrid work model, collaboration and employee engagement – and permutations of “work from home” – right now.

Generational and Social Shifts and the Future of Work

According to G2, companies will need to continue to offer a hybrid or fully remote option in order to retain top talent, especially after The Great Resignation of 2021 (the government’s jobs report released that over 20 million people quit their jobs in the second half of 2021. Some are calling it the “big quit,” others the “great resignation”).  

The desire for more freedom and flexibility has changed the employee experience forever and is now a huge social shift and generational priority. Therefore, communication and collaboration will be affected if teams are unable to adjust properly. Unfortunately, the standard video conferencing software will likely not be enough for teams in the long run. Part of adapting to this new environment will include a larger focus on tools that can enhance the virtual employee experience. 

High-quality communication and collaboration will become a priority for teams moving forward. Additionally, employers must consider individuals who may feel isolated if there is not enough team bonding time or face-to-face meetings. Finding ways to cultivate a healthy company culture and effective methods of communication in the current environment is vital.  

This is where Swae has been most helpful to organizations. We know that the world has changed irreversibly and new threats and opportunities arise daily for organizations. To source the best solutions to these challenges, the need for diverse options and competition for the best solutions has never been more important.  

A study by PwC Pulse Survey: Next in work states that we are at a pivotal moment for the future of work, and companies can help their businesses and employees thrive if employees remain the number one source of finding good solutions to internal and external challenges.

This is where Swae comes into the picture.

Swae solves this by helping organizations tap into the intelligence of their people with the ability to leverage the power of AI and a merit-based, bottom-up methodology. The outcome is the ability to develop smarter decisions without sacrificing speed.

Swae helps organizations turn their diversity into their superpower which can fuel transformation, adaptation, growth, and resilience during times when speed and the right decisions are critical to success. We also help companies create a “speak up” culture in workplaces, and what we know is that when a company creates a speak up culture, this is when positive things happen. (Read our most recent recap about creating speak up cultures inside of your organization here)

For example, employees who feel comfortable speaking up at work about problems and their solutions to them are 92% more likely to want to stay with the company (even if offered a comparable position elsewhere) versus 60% for those who don’t feel comfortable or have the chance to speak up at all. 

Furthermore, 95% of those who do speak up expressed excitement to come to work to do their jobs and said they would recommend their company as a great place to work, compared with 61% among those who did not have the opportunity to speak up. 

Swae is on a mission to give everyone a voice and to help leaders uncover the possibilities from within their organization to drive significant improvements by unlocking hidden ideas from their people. Unlocking and cultivating the hidden innovations and opportunities have demonstrated time and time again that it can drive massive change and major improvements. The secret to doing this comes from what our inclusive platform activates to get there; trust, collaboration, engagement and an “idea meritocracy” where the best ideas rise to the top.

We want companies to WIN and we want leaders to understand the concept of what an “idea meritocracy” is. Therein lies the key to performance gains, and in the words of one of its most prolific enthusiasts, Ray Dalio, the Founder of Bridgewater Associates – the most successful hedgefund in history – and author of #1 New York Times bestseller Principles, said: 

“I believe in idea meritocracy – a system that brings together smart, independent thinkers and has them productively disagree to come up with the best possible collective thinking and resolve their disagreements in a believability-weighted way that will outperform any other decision-making system. To have an idea meritocracy, you put your honest thoughts on the table, have thoughtful disagreement, and abide by agreed-upon ways of getting past disagreement.”


Ray Dalio Founder Bridgewater Associates

In his book Principles, Mr. Dalio credits the system of idea meritocracy as the backbone of Bridgewater’s internal operating system and culture for unearthing trapped insights and turning unconventional ideas into organizational decisions. In an industry as reliant on high quality arguments, unbiased information, and sound decisions as the financial industry is – it’s no surprise how an idea meritocracy helped them build a repeatable and scalable system for helping the most appropriate internal and external decisions rise from the bottom to the top.  

Many believe this is Bridgewater’s secret weapon for outperforming all its competitors and every other hedge fund in the history of the industry. 

It’s becoming more widely accepted that an organization’s best ideas and solutions can come from anywhere regardless of the hierarchy, and Swae helps its users feel they have a real voice and platform that they can trust to share their ideas about problems and solutions at the workplace. These are ideas that would otherwise get lost or neglected in the complex and bureaucratic web of tools, workflows and processes that a large-scale modern company encompasses.

In a world where continuous innovation is increasingly critical and organizations must move at the pace of software companies, competitive success — perhaps even survival — requires moving beyond exclusive use of hierarchical decision-making, drawing on the power of crowdsourcing and markets wherever possible. Under today’s business environment and circumstances, creating a speak up culture and an idea meritocracy makes strong business sense. 

Study after study shows that increasing diversity in teams and companies is not an empty feel-good slogan – it actually leads to more frequent and better-quality innovation and improved financial performance, as experienced by firms like Bridgewater (e.g. BCG’s 2017 research findings).  

This is because diverse teams are shown to be smarter, identify and address cognitive biases more frequently in important decisions, and develop better innovations leading to improved financial performance against teams that are more homogenous. 

Experts believe this is the case because the greater the diversity of decision makers the more likely they can collect diverse inputs and options to select from, process information more carefully, and catch inherent biases more accurately, leading to more objective and informed choices to select from, and better end decisions. 

Companies that take these initiatives seriously and moves them forward as priorities perform better. Swae believes organizations CAN THRIVE when decisions are made more inclusively. The combination of creativity, innovative suggestions and quality of arguments presented through Swae can lead to more informed decisions, leading to better quality choices to select from that impact financial and organizational performance.

“The combination of multiple perspectives offers a wider set of possibilities than simple seniority. Of course, crowds can be wrong…but if the process is designed carefully, with the right checkpoints and safeguards in place, crowdsourcing can bring fresh insights for wider consideration.”

Swae is helping organizations across the world to solve today's problems and generate tomorrow's strategy. Our clients are finding that their greatest resource is their people, and Swae is proven to help get the best from the untapped potential within their workforce. We'd love the chance to show you how Swae can 'pay off' for you...

Ready to learn how Swae can help your organization?

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Swae Partners with the Igarapé Institute and the United Nations launching a global digital consultation to strengthen international cooperation

Swae Partners with the Igarapé Institute and the United Nations launching a global digital consultation to strengthen international cooperation

The Igarapé Institute and United Nations Taps Into Our Collective Intelligence Platform to Crowdsource the Best Proposals to Adapt Multilateral Institutions and Global Problem Solving to Meet Tomorrow’s World

VANCOUVER and RIO DE JANEIRO

The world is facing monumental threats ranging from disease outbreaks and climate change to nuclear conflict and deepening inequality. In order to strengthen global cooperation, the United Nations is seeking input from stakeholders across different sectors of society to improve international cooperation. Swae is helping accelerate an innovative digital consultation to enhance and strengthen international cooperation, and reveal creative solutions to tackle the biggest challenges facing the world.

Working in partnership with the Brazil-based Igarape Institute and to support the United Nations Secretary General, Swae is being deployed to canvass the voices of civil society, including leading private sector groups, philanthropic organizations, metropolitan authorities, parliamentarians, labor organizations, humanitarian and development agencies, think tanks and civil society groups around the world. The platform is being used to generate bold and actionable proposals to bolster multilateral action and build a safer, fairer and more sustainable world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The digital consultation will use Swae to crowdsource creative proposals for ways to rapidly accelerate delivery of the commitments made by governments in the UN75 Declaration adopted by the General Assembly in 2020. A key priority is identifying bold actionable strategies to bolster the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement. With the help of Swae, the consultation will generate action-oriented recommendations to help the international community confront and adapt to new and emerging challenges.

The digital consultations are taking place between April and May 2021 and reaching all corners of the world. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to shape a new narrative for multilateral action”, according to Robert Muggah, the founder of Igarape Institute and SecDev Group. “Swae is a critical platform to take these kinds of debates to the next level”, he added. Swae will not just help develop new ideas, it will also ensure a high degree of diversity and inclusion in the consultation itself.

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“This project is an exciting step in improving the speed, diversity and user experience of consultation processes for critical institutions such as the United Nations. We urgently need to improve the quality of exchange between the general public and decision-makers. This is what Swae is designed to do. We’ve rapidly customized the platform to ensure that the voices of people too often excluded from these kinds of global conversations are front and center.” – Soushiant Zanganehpour, CEO of Swae

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Thanks to Swae, invited participants can access and input to the digital consultation and benefit from the company’s Natural Language Processing and Writing Improvement AI features in all six official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Video and Visual Preview of the New Swae Platform

Below are screenshots of the all-new platform, redesigned for this consultation.

Screenshots of the New Swae Platform

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About Swae

Swae is an AI-powered platform for turning feedback into smart, inclusive decisions for organizational improvement. With over 25,000 users, Swae’s platform creates a safe, inclusive, and anonymous space for problem and solution generation inside any organization, allowing leaders to source investable solutions, hear the truth, boost engagement, and reduce bias in important strategic decisions to improve overall performance.

Since launching in 2019, Swae has been implemented for clients such as Etihad Airways, Bosch, Doctors without Borders, Lifelabs, EMC Insurance, and the governments of Mexico and Chile, amongst others. We’ve won many prestigious awards recognizing our innovative approach to hacking through hierarchies and making inclusion useful to decision making.

More Info

FOR INFORMATION ABOUT SWAE, CONTACT: info@swae.io

FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE DIGITAL CONSULTATION, CONTACT wethepeoples@igarape.org.br

ACTION BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

To mark UN75, the UN’s 193 Member States adopted a Declaration setting out a vision for achieving the future we want and the UN we need. In it, they note they have listened to the concerns and aspirations of the people, through the UN75 global conversation, and pledge: “We are here to respond.”

They also tasked the UN Secretary-General to report back by September 2021 with recommendations “to advance our common agenda and to respond to current and future challenges”. 

‘WE THE PEOPLES’ DIGITAL CONSULTATION

The Secretary-General launched Our Common Agenda, a process of consultation and reflection to generate ideas to inform his September 2021 report. This process is being led by the Secretary-General’s office with support from a network of global partners, including the United Nations Foundation, Igarapé Institute, Accord, Southern Voice, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore.

The “We the Peoples” digital consultation is one part of this effort. Building on the UN75 global conversation, the consultation invites stakeholders from different sectors to develop practical recommendations to: accelerate delivery of the commitments made in the UN75 Declaration, together with the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement; and to respond to new and emerging challenges.

Source: https://un75.online/take-action/

EMC Insurance x Swae: Unleashing workforce creativity & crowdsourcing ideas to drive culture and strategic innovation initiatives

EMC Insurance x Swae: Unleashing workforce creativity & crowdsourcing ideas to drive culture and strategic innovation initiatives

Swae pilot program launched to help demonstrate that employee feedback and insights can drive business performance and that hearing all voices is an essential ingredient for an evolving culture and workplace.

EMC Insurance Companies was founded in 1911 and is built on more than 110 years of serving policyholders and independent insurance agents. EMC employs more than 2,400 employees in 19 locations across the United States and is in the top 60 property/casualty organizations and is one of the largest in Iowa, based on net written premium. (Source: https://www.emcins.com/)

Over the years, EMC developed a perspective about what innovation means to them: it is more than technology: innovation is about building a culture of trust and encouraging innovative thinking by empowering employees and discovering unique ways that strengthen the organization and serve customers in new ways.

To further these intentions, EMC and Swae will be working closely to leverage Swae’s platform and offline capabilities to help crowdsource ideas from a larger pool of employees, empower leadership across the enterprise to drive deeper collaboration efforts, and unleash more creativity for workplace improvement and innovation.

While there are a lot of ways to give employees a voice inside EMC currently — from engagement surveys to learning sessions and focus groups — there are gaps with these instruments in turning voice into action and potential decisions that lead to workplace improvement or innovation. Partnering with Swae is intended to fill these gaps by giving everyone a safe, formal, and merit-based process for expressing ideas, making decisions, and identifying potential solutions that can be prioritized efficiently with the help of the crowd and gain deeper engagement.

According to Mary Harvey, Business Innovation Specialist within EMC’s Innovation Team, “In this pilot, we are bringing team members together to shape the future of how we share ideas across EMC.”

Swae’s mission is to empower unheard voices within organizations to ensure that leaders can identify problems and hear about investable solutions quickly. Another driving goal is to help leaders hear the truth of what’s going on inside their organization so they can better prioritize and reduce the potential biases in important strategic decisions.

Swae’s driving goals is precisely what Angela Noble, Vice President of Innovation and Lead of EMC’s Innovation Team, is hoping the pilot program and platform will help EMC begin to achieve:

“We hope Swae will help us fill gaps by giving team members a voice and highlighting what’s most important to our people. This will also empower leadership to know what’s most important, respond to ideas and make decisions.

We know Swae can have a major impact in large companies like EMC on many levels — from encouraging deeper engagement, boosting morale and trust, to sourcing challenges and solutions to drive workplace improvement and the innovation strategy — all of which can truly transform the way leaders include others in sourcing challenges, finding solutions, and making better decisions faster. Some problems within large organizations can’t be discovered unless you have everyone’s input. From past implementations, by using Swae, leaders were able to hear problems they didn’t even know existed and unleashed the creativity of their own people to solve their organization’s problems.

EMC’s Innovation Leader Angela Noble has high expectations of Swae,

“We hope Swae is the platform that empowers team members to share ideas safely, enables leaders to understand team member priorities, and creates opportunities to respond and make decisions in an efficient, transparent way that supports the innovative culture we’re building at EMC. ”

We’re excited to help Angela, Mary, employees and the leadership at EMC achieve these results at the end of this pilot!

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Why There’s a Fundamental Issue with the COVID-19 Crisis Relief Programs

Why There’s a Fundamental Issue with the COVID-19 Crisis Relief Programs

Part 1 of 2: Simply, Past Revenue Is Not the Right Measuring Tool

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Background and Types of Relief Programs Offered

financial relief programs around the globe kick in with the main goal to stimulate businesses, in Canada, many in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector are feeling left out and misrepresented.

After assessing the various programs offered to companies affected by COVID-19, our research has found that most companies are unable to benefit from a variety of relief programs offered by the government. The issue lies in the way that the programs are structured, and how the companies that make up the ICT sector have financed their growth to-date which is being overlooked. Or, these same companies are being penalized by the government programs that were supposed to help them in a time of crisis.

There’s a serious problem here because there’s a lack of answers around important concerns relating to the fundamental design of the programs, and the bottom line is that many feel the policy makers are ignorant of how technology startups and companies grow. This is leaving founders in the ICT sector feeling unfairly penalized for their legal structures and for the strategic growth decisions they’ve made.

Currently, the most significant relief programs offered to businesses (under 500 people) affected by COVID-19 by the Canadian Federal Government are the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) — a $40,000 interest-free, government-backed loan that includes a $10,000 grant if you spend and pay back the full loan amount. And, there’s the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) — a 75% wage subsidy up to a maximum of $847 per week.

To be considered eligible to receive the CEWS, an employer must demonstrate a drop in revenue of 15% or more for March 2020, and 30% or more for April 2020 and May 2020, when compared to their revenue for the same period in 2019. This means that if your revenue did not drop by at least 15–30% more than you made last year, sorry, you’re not eligible.

Where the Canadian Federal Relief Programs Have Design Flaws

And herein lies the fundamental flaw: the design of this program using the revenue test used to establish eligibility overlooks the way startups finance their growth and development.

Let us further explain…

The majority of technology startups do not start their business with revenues to report early on, and growth is based on investments in order to develop a product and find a market for that product to sell to.

Most startups grow through bootstrapping or raising grants, equity investments, and/or debt. In the rare case that a startup begins generating revenue on day number one, under normal growth circumstances they would have less revenue generated last year than they would have this year. In a technology venture, revenues are expected to increase exponentially year-on-year, not remain stable and stagnant for years on end (like a traditional brick and mortar small business or storefront).

If a technology venture generated $100K in revenue last year in 2019, and this year they projected to generate $500K, even a 30% loss would not qualify them for the CEWS program because they have earned well over their 2019 baseline for the same period. This venture must have lost much more than 30% to benefit from this relief.

What the Canadian ICT Sector thinks of the Relief Programs Offered

Following the announcement of the CEBA and CEWS relief programs, the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) — a national advocacy organization and business council led by the CEOs of Canada’s fastest-growing companies — conducted a sector-wide survey, to see how the various programs would impact startups and the ICT sector.

We weren’t at all surprised that they found that:

  • Around 39,000 Canadian ICT companies are ineligible for the CEWS because of how they evaluate a reduction in business activity.
  • 94% (609 CEOs) said they would be ineligible for CEWS based on the previous 30% reduction in wages year-over-year.

Like the other technology startups surveyed, Swae is in the same boat, and like other startups, we did not start our business venture with revenues to report early on. We have grown based on investments in order to develop a product and then find a market for our product. Though we incurred significant losses due to COVID-19, we had no revenue to report during this 3 month eligibility period in 2019 so we do not qualify for the program.

What’s at Stake if Relief Programs are Not Improved and Do Not Increase Accessibility to Liquidity

Given the impact of COVID-19 on most economies globally, stimulation through financial relief is required if there’s going to be any “economy” left when COVID-19 subsides. This isn’t just about Canada, but the entire globe.

Governments could help stimulate technology companies and startups if they were creating programs using suitable measuring tools, and really understood the recipient’s circumstances and the kind of relief needed.

Across Canada, more than 60,000 workers a year are joining the tech sector and the innovations of these startups fuel a network of advanced industries that collectively drive 17% of the national GDP and 11% of national employment. That’s a giant network of customers, clients, and suppliers that stand to lose big time if the startup ecosystem fails.

Many tech startups can only keep going and raise funds based on assumptions around sales that are now becoming null and void during this COVID-19 crisis. This concern has been voiced by many technology entrepreneurs.

For example, Gordon Casey, Founder of Brave Technology Coop in Vancouver, BC said, “We have a team of 7 FTE. Our runway is based on assumptions around sales that are all irrelevant now. So we can either let everyone go to put a pause on the business in every sense and attempt to “time travel” to the other side of COVID. Or, we can keep paying those employees while we pause revenue and sales-generating activities.”

Either way, it’s not a winning scenario for Brave Technology Coop.

They’re not the only ones stuck in that position. Many companies, including Swae, are stuck between pre-revenue and post-revenue generation stages and have no reliable predictions on when a stable and receptive market will happen. It’s a difficult situation no matter how you dice it.

These concerns must be addressed and alleviated to ensure no one is unfairly penalized for their existing legal structure and the growth decisions they’ve made to-date.

Canadian tech entrepreneurs have made tremendous gains over the past 15 years, thanks to the support of all levels of government. From incubators, grant programs, investment funds, to trade missions — all of this nurturing has helped to build a vibrant ecosystem that’s driven huge growth in jobs, investment, and economic activity.

If relief stops due to technicalities and flaws in how programs are designed to help the startup sector at this moment of crisis, our future economy will start from zero afterward.

More importantly, nuanced support is required to help protect the many years and millions of dollars of investment made by the Canadian government in creating a strong ICT sector all across Canada.

In part 2 we’ll be discussing 3 solutions that we’ve found to combat this major problem. Stay tuned!

What do you think, do you agree? We’d love to hear from you, go here to let us know your thoughts!

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