navigating change in the world of work

part 1: the future of work is flexible and diverse. 

On May 8, I co-hosted the first #RandstadTechTalks Twitter chat with Randstad Canada, and heard from dozens of Canadians on topics surrounding the Canadian role in the globalizing future. This 2-part blog post was inspired by the topics discussed in that Twitter chat, a conversation with Randstad’s Executive VP & General Counsel, Lara Speirs, and my own experience as CTO of Crescendo and research in the Future of Work.

the future of work is flexible workplace diversity

Nowadays, especially for people in tech roles, remote work and flexibility is expected. With the rapid growth of tech jobs over the past few years and not enough professionals to fill them, employees have used their leverage to influence the physical transformation of our working arrangements. I don't even know what it's like to work on a colocated team - I personally have never worked in the same city as any of my managers - and for the incoming generations of workers, this is the norm. 

70% of people worldwide work remotely at least once per week, and trends show that the full time remote workers will equal or surpass traditional office workers in 2025 (IWG). At my startup, Crescendo, we are a semi-distributed and remote-friendly team. Like many innovative workplaces across Canada, we recognize that everyone comes to work with a different life situation. Speaking to Lara Speirs, Executive VP and General Counsel, Legal & Public Affairs, of Randstad Canada, I learned of another trend: many workplaces are switching to a results-only workplace environment, or “ROWE,” model. This means focusing on the outcome of the work - where and when you do it doesn’t matter. “The ROWE strategy is increasing in popularity, and with good reason. Women are disproportionately affected by a lack of flexible work arrangements, so this approach appears like a very interesting way to truly integrate work-life balance in the workplace” she says. ‘’There’s no doubt that flexibility makes for a more inclusive workplace. But there’s a caveat: the ROWE model can only be implemented in a high-trust environment.’’

With this more flexible workplace, companies are beginning to hire beyond their own borders. Tools like Slack, Zoom, Miro, and Drive make it easy to collaborate with your colleagues in real time, regardless of physical location. So why not hire someone in a different city, country, or continent? In fact, doing so may even help your organization and your team.

The great thing about tech products is they can reach users all around the world with just a couple of clicks. But people often overlook how much you need to localize the product to each market you enter. It's not enough to just change the language, scale your servers, and turn your app or software on for users in other locales. You have to consider the different needs and cultures of users in each market and cater to them specifically. In my recent trip to Japan for the G20 YEA Summit, for which I also partnered with Randstad Canada, I heard Ray Hatoyama share how thinking local helped him turn Hello Kitty into a household name not just in Japan, but around the world. Hiring people who represent the markets you are trying to reach helps you reach those markets more effectively. 

. . .

Historically, diversity was often sidelined as a nice-to-have, not a necessity. It was traditionally run by HR, but in recent years has broken out of that vertical and into the core of organizations. Nowadays, companies are being pressured by legislation, consumers, and employees to diversify their workforces, and they’re finally allotting big budgets to these initiatives. In recent years, the number of roles relating to diversity and inclusion in North America has skyrocketed. “D&I shouldn’t just be run by the head of HR,” says Speirs, who was also formerly Randstad Canada’s Chief Diversity Officer. “It should be [a priority] starting from the CEO and at all levels of the C-Suite and cascading down from there.”

But it’s not enough to just set goals for diversity, the organizations that are doing this successfully focus on inclusion and belonging - it’s not just about hiring a set of diverse people, it’s also about the employee experience once they’re there. “Having key measures in place is important,” Speirs says. She cites a BCG study (excerpt below), which proposes core measures for successful gender equity programs, as a good example of strong measures of a successful initiative.

Using frameworks like these add clarity and fairness to otherwise imbalanced processes where bias can easily slip through. 

To illustrate the state of women in the workplace, Randstad recently released their Women Transforming the Workplace report, which is part of their larger initiative of the same name. Beyond the typical gender diversity study, it takes a look at what Canadian women think of the “fourth industrial revolution,” the blurring of boundaries between AI and humans. “There’s a critical need for women to actively participate,” the report says, “or we risk being left behind.

part 2 of this series on the future of work is now live! check it out for insights on how AI will impact future workplaces.

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sage franch

Sage Franch is a developer and tech entrepreneur based in Montreal. As founder and CTO of Crescendo, Sage builds technology that helps organizations foster diversity and inclusion through storytelling. She is a mom, a musician, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction alike - read her work on trendytechie.ca