Behold the future of the workplace

Future workplaceIn a recent presentation on the future of work, Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, an HR research firm and consultancy, serves up several predictions for 2017 that he believes will improve workplace productivity into the next decade.

The message here, especially for traditional hierarchical organizations, is to abandon old paradigms, and embrace the new.

This, of course, is especially challenging for large, complex organizations with deeply embedded cultures, but it is certainly doable.

Bersin points out that “human beings like to work (and socialize for that matter) in small groups,” and that optimizing the way work gets done requires teams to be coordinated and linked together by open communication. He stresses the importance of a “shared culture” to create the conditions necessary for sustained performance.

While not groundbreaking, I’ve seen many organization struggle to create those conditions.

Another prediction, or trend, relates to performance evaluations, a hotly debated topic in recent years. At a recent Columbia Coaching Conference, Richard Boyatzis characterized performance reviews as “an act of oppression” and linked them to negative emotional attractors, which lead to negative outcomes. According to Boyatzis and many others, for various reasons, annual performance reviews tend to do more harm than good.

Bersin links performance management with employee engagement and amplifies the need for both a continuous performance management and employee engagement process, where two-way feedback is dynamic and ongoing. He cites Deloitte’s daily five-minute check-ins and quarterly engagement surveys, suggesting that survey questions are informed by the daily one-on-ones, connoting a circular improvement loop.

Perhaps the most compelling part of the presentation centered on the use of design thinking to improve the employee experience throughout their first year. Applying design thinking principles to an onboarding process can result in a deeper, more immersive experience linked to sustained levels of engagement and perhaps even retention.

Working effectively in small teams, dynamic feedback, new mobile technologies to drive accountability, and the relentless preservation of organizational culture (modeling the values daily) are some of the high impact paths highlighted in this latest research report on the future of work.

Paul Curci is Executive Coach and Change Consultant of the Curci Group. Visit