Slack is launching the Future Forum, a consortium that will help companies make the transformations necessary to thrive in the new economy. The Future Forum is dedicated to the concept that companies need to make a comprehensive shift in how they operate. The upside is phenomenal: diverse teams of talented individuals working together toward a common purpose, able to move fast to capture opportunity and be resilient in the face of challenge.
Dissatisfaction with the status quo has simmered below the surface for years. The pandemic has caused things to boil over. The sudden move to remote work provides the opportunity to question decades of orthodoxy about a 9-to-5, office-centric, homogeneous work culture. While this remote work experiment has shown advantages in improving personal well-being for some, the fact that most companies have done little more than “lift and shift” office-centric practices onto videoconferences is raising challenges associated with the perceived difficulty of building and maintaining social ties. These issues are most pronounced among socioeconomic groups that have been historically disadvantaged.
There’s never been a better, or more necessary, time to rethink the fundamentals of how your organization works. It’s an opportunity to reimagine both the culture and norms we work with and the tools and technology we work on.
The Future Forum will drive this change in two ways:
- Original research, case studies and position papers: This work will be done in collaboration with leading academic institutions, including work with professor Pamela Hinds of Stanford University.
- An ongoing events series: These will include both intimate off-the-record discussions where executives can share best practices and work through their biggest challenges, and public-facing events where leading voices will share insights and debate solutions.
As part of the launch, the Future Forum is releasing a preview of data from its first piece of original content. The Remote Employee Experience Index provides data and insights on how knowledge workers are adapting to remote work More insights from the report will be released at Slack’s Frontiers conference in October. Highlights of the preliminary data include:
- Only 12% of knowledge workers say they intend to return to working exclusively from an office, while an overwhelming 72% want a combination of office and remote work
- Top advantages include eliminating the commute, saving money, and improved work-life balance
- The biggest challenges include building relationships with colleagues, increased feelings of loneliness or isolation, and not being aware of what others are working on
The research shows that individuals experience remote work very differently depending on their unique circumstances. As this chart shows, what is perceived to be a benefit for one person can be seen as an obstacle to another.
How does remote work affect the experience of work?
The research also paints a troubling picture of profound problems with racial disparities within the employee experience. Sixty-five percent of white knowledge workers agree with the statement “my manager is supportive when I need help,” compared to only 46% of Black knowledge workers.
Our findings underscore the idea that diversity and inclusivity gaps demand urgent action. As Stanford business professor Brian Lowery has written, “Failures of diversity are fundamentally failures of leadership—specifically, a failure to understand both what really constitutes good leadership and how leadership sets the tone for how effectively challenges around diversity are handled within an organization.” Simply put, no organization should tolerate these failures in leadership for a minute longer. We have to use this opportunity to reconnect and empower individuals in our workforce who have found historical monocultures their biggest challenge.
This research reveals a complex picture of the benefits and challenges facing employees working remotely during the present moment of crisis. It also delivers a message about the need for companies to reimagine the way they operate in order to succeed in the post-pandemic economy.
The time to make comprehensive change is now. The Future Forum exists to serve as your partner on the journey.
For more information about the Future Forum, visit https://futureforum.com.