The Future of Work: Day Three (Envisioning The Structure of Companies in 2027)

Building off the initial discussions about the current needs of companies and current solutions in the marketplace, on Day 3 our panelists scoped out what they think the structure of a company will look like in 10 years.

Paul Terlemezian says the future of work is already upon us. While some bemoan changes to the workplace as a “millennial mindset”, he believes the drive toward better working environments and structures “accelerate when it is understood to simply be doing business the way we knew it needed to be done – but were afraid to do. We’ve been afraid to delegate, be accountable for outcomes and guarantee services. In the future the market will demand it and technology will enable it.”

J-J de Roover posits that “the flexible workforce will continue to grow, and workers will locate themselves where they want to be, and seek out those companies that support the work hours, work style, and culture they value. In this way, evolution of corporate culture will accelerate, and the most open, culturally-agile companies will take an early lead, and those unable to adapt will slowly spiral downwards.”

Glenn Powell sees the flexible workforce expanding the role for co-working spaces as opposed to “traditional corporations where work was siloed off in hierarchical structures and under constant observation and assessment—conditions that led to competition and isolation rather than collaboration.”

Powell also notes the difficulty of creating a safety net for freelance, contract, or part-time workers, and suggests the possibility of portable benefits, while Tim Cowan thinks employer-sponsored benefits “will be eliminated except for the largest companies.” He posits that the government will provide minimal benefits for flexible workers. Karen Swim, however, envisions the market will take over and “in 10 years, temps and contractors will have greater access to purchasing benefits or benefits packages. This change will result from a growing marketplace of companies that will serve this community of workers.”

Terlemezian agrees, suggesting that “we can set up our own retirement plans and buy insurance – we might even be motivated to become healthier to reduce our costs! My hope is that traditional benefits evaporate – and that corporations focus on the benefits or providing a great working environment. Over the last few decades I have seem the “golden handcuffs” of benefits produce many bored workers (dying on the job) – because they have outgrown it – are no longer challenged – but need the benefits to survive – what a waste of potential!”

For any of this to happen, Bryan Larkin notes “culture and law will need to change substantially. We have found in the last 20 years that neither keep up with technology”, adding that while these big, bold ideas of independence may work for some workers, “many, many people need a structured environment in which they can thrive by just following a pre-described path. Anything outside of that won’t work for them.” Larkin also notes that many companies are to their shareholders and not their country, so where companies go in the future may become a very literal, geographic question.

Once again, thank you to all of our panelists who contributed their insights over the course of a week, and thank you for tuning in. Our final day will be an evaluative exercise and wrap up discussion.

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