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What is the future of work? Interview with José Ramón Villaverde

What is the future of work? Interview with José Ramón Villaverde

May 1st was International Workers’ Day, also known as Labor Day in most countries, and marks the celebration of the achievements of workers around the world. The world of work has been changing over the last few years, accelerated by the digital transformations of companies, even encompassing the very dynamics of the relationship between teams and managers. We spoke with José Ramón Villaverde, WFM Solutions Specialist in the SISQUAL Spanish team, to understand, from his point of view, what will be the emerging trends shaping the future of work.

In another article you said that “the word digital transformation is already a reality and those who don’t embrace it will be lost”. Do you think technological evolution is one of the main factors conditioning and dictating changes in the employment landscape?

I think the concept of digital transformation is ambiguous and has many edges. First of all, we have to be clear about the type of company we are, our horizon and our goals. In other words, there must be a consensus between the company’s values and the technology we integrate. Many times, we find ourselves with different tools that we have been gathering for no reason, and we don’t know what to use them for. First, we must diagnose and then adapt the best tool for our company. On the other hand, we have to be clear about the capabilities of our teams because not everyone is a digital native and it is very different to download a mobile application than it is using a particular ERP. It is obvious that there is no future without digital transformation. Nonetheless, before we embark on the adventure, we need to adapt and be very clear about what our processes are, in order to make them more effective and efficient and, if possible, automated. After all this, steps will be generated to achieve total transformation, which also involves a huge process of training our teams and spreading internal communication.

What should we expect from work in the future?

The first sentence that comes to my mind is reassurance about such blunt questions, and why? Suddenly unintelligible words have appeared, such as algorithm, database, machine learning, blockchain, etc… and that can cause disquiet simply because we are not a digital native society. The work of the future depends on the empowerment of society, and for this we need hundreds of hours of training and means for this digital transformation. Secondly, we must adapt our workforce to the type of industry we have in order to make it competitive and excellent. Services, productivity, and so on. At the same time, the work of the future will require, above all, that our skills, whether attitudinal or aptitudinal, to be as transversal as possible.

How can companies prepare for these trends?

We must eliminate from these big questions the answers full of rhetorical or demagogic elements. One of the great mantras is “face-to-face”. This term is often used in a way that is too biased. I think we need to look at the fact that we are a culture of contact, meaning we need to touch and see, to be with our co-workers, even if right afterwards we’re complaining with each other. We love interaction and if we look at it, in these pandemic months we are just as happy to telecommute, but on the other hand, we miss working with colleagues a lot. I think the first premise of the work of the future is that with departmental or personal goals assigned, each employee can (if possible, within their competence) adapt them in a hybrid way between their office and home. This is a good start to focus on the issue. After that, it is obvious that we should talk about flexibility, adapting labor agreements to the new times, and, above all, adding productivity variables and social benefits into remuneration. At the same time, we should add to the cause employee portals as a very useful means of internal communication. The company must learn to communicate better and improve interaction, attract talent within the company, reduce turnover or absenteeism, and promote the concept of belonging.

In your opinion, what characteristics should the leader of the future have?

The word leader and leadership must be well defined in times of total absence of leaders in all fields. I think that a leader must be able to read reality well, both the one that affects the company and that which affects society itself, in order to derive the best tactics and strategies from it. He or she must encourage the entrepreneurial spirit and encourage people to take risks without fear of the consequences, and therefore, with new knowledge, the whole will grow. It is important to lower the hyper leadership, decrease the noise and encourage active listening, which can be done, for example, by reading data tables and from there make the best decision.

In conclusion…

There are several trends that may come to shape the future of work and that have been gaining notorious importance recently. However, and if there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is that it’s almost impossible to predict the direction the world will take. Only one thing we can be sure of: companies that do not adapt to the new realities will not be able to maintain a competitive advantage. Thus, it’s crucial that companies prepare themselves for a series of possibilities, maintaining practices of quick adaptation to change, either from the needs of the market itself or from their own employees.

SISQUAL already has in its portfolio solutions that can help you to effectively plan your workforce and to adapt and lead change in a productive and profitable way without compromising quality. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our team. We will be happy to help you achieve maximum effectiveness with your teams.

The interviewee: José Ramón Villaverde

José Ramon is a WFM specialist and has extensive experience in human resources. Given his passion for culture, he was the host of the television show ‘La nueva ruta del empleo. His greatest hobby is writing, being the author of 4 books: ‘Otto, (Editorial Hades 2019)’, ‘El baile de las ortigas (Editorial Haces 2017)’ and ‘Deconstrucción de una lágrima (Editorial Hades 2014)’ and the non-fiction book ‘Películas, buenos consejos y cómo encontré trabajo.