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  • Writer's pictureRonnie Ray

Experimenting to a New Future of Work

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), noted author and professor of organizational psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Adam Grant, writes that the pandemic experience has opened the environment for rethinking workplace models relating to the nature of hybrid work, building employee motivation, and shorter work weeks among others. However, to capitalize on this, businesses need to move from a one-and-done decision mindset to a more experimentative one where different approaches are tried out. Let's highlight a couple of interesting takes from the article for the purpose of spurring further thought.

One area relates to Prof. Grant's view that the change in perspective on work-life balance across the generational cohorts is not a fundamental shift, but only a slight change. This is explained by equating the prevalence of quiet quitting today to phoning or mailing in during earlier generations. This argument seems one-sided, as disengagement in the work place is not just because of the desire for more leisure time, but impacted by myriads of factors. Prof. Grant's view that having an interesting job and meaningful work, and being paid well and getting promoted, takes higher priority than work-life balance even for millennials and Gen Z's, sounds a more positive note.

The second speaks to the motivational power of connecting the dots to the impact of work. Prof. Grant's experiment on university fundraising does offer some remarkable results (an increase of 142% in weekly minutes on the phone, and 171% in weekly revenue). Communicating impact in a more complex, multi-layered organization with interdependent teams, where most employees play only a bit role to a final outcome is more difficult and nuanced. However, it follows the more that teams can be charged, measured and compensated on delivering visible end outcomes for which they are collectively responsible, the higher should be their motivation and productivity.

Lastly, Prof. Grant's greatest concern is that without the pressure of a sudden and dramatic change driver like the pandemic, experimentation will slow down or stall. Indeed, there is opportunity for this experimentation not only with internal teams, but also extended to external partner organizations for even greater benefit.


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