When we think about the changes the future will bring, it’s natural to think first in terms of technology. Big data analytics, machine learning, the Internet of Things—the industry is buzzing with innovations that promise to reshape the way we live and work. But it’s important to remember that technology, in and of itself, is meaningless; it only becomes meaningful when it’s put to work to address human needs, solve human problems, and help achieve human goals.

In short, the future of work, in the purest sense, is about people.

Humans Still Rule.

You may remember that I’ve said this before, and that is because it is a topic I feel strongly about. Even as technology continues its breathtaking pace of innovation, nothing can replace the empathy, creativity, and potential of the people in your organization. Employers need to capitalize on their passion and enable individuals and teams to embrace a change and innovation.

Easier said than done? Not if you have the secret weapon: a growth mindset. By being open to learning new things, challenging limits, failing fast and learning continuously, all of us in the workplace will be better-enabled to thrive in a future of work characterized by smart machines and big data. We must be confident enough to move beyond our comfort zones to try new things, embrace new ideas, and expand our skills. As an organization, creating a shared culture of positivity, honest feedback, and willingness to improve will empower people and teams to overcome obstacles, discover new solutions, and strive to make the most of our talents—always. When employees are given the space to make meaningful contributions at work, they become more purposeful not only in their daily tasks, but in their careers on the whole.

Technologies empowering the future of work

In a very real sense, we’re already living the future of work. Citrix secure digital workspace solutions now give us unprecedented freedom to choose the way we experience work and life—to take work from a place we go to something that we do, anywhere and at anytime on any device. We have full access to our desktops, apps and data securely every time. I remember when this was a far-fetched dream fantasized about around the water cooler. We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time and the future holds even more possibilities for us to enjoy and leverage for good.

Employee expectations have also evolved along this journey. We’re thinking in new ways about the relationship between work and our personal lives. The conversation used to be about work-life balance, but that brings to mind an image of work and life on opposite sides of a see-saw, moving in opposite directions. It never really worked no matter how hard we tried to convince ourselves otherwise. Now, we’re talking about work-life harmony. I like to picture this as an orchestra. All the different elements of our lives (i.e. partners, pets, home, work etc.) each representing a different instrument and we are the conductors of our lives creating a melody that works. With Citrix solutions, it’s easier than ever to strike the right chord because employees don’t have to be tethered to a desk.

So will office spaces exist in the future?

My prediction is: Yes! Remote working is great, but having the option to meet face-to-face with coworkers is valuable in its own right. In fact, I’d say it’s irreplaceable. Interacting with fellow humans in a shared space breeds productive collaboration. Some of the greatest breakthroughs I’ve had in my career have been the result of in-person conversations with colleagues. Running into colleagues has sparked new ideas. I’ve even heard great feedback while pouring a cup of coffee. I’m sure you can think of a few stories of your own! Inspiration is everywhere and it reverberates off the walls when we gather great minds in one place.

This is all about harmony and it’s up to us to strike the right balance between in-person and remote time for maximum success because flex work is only as good as we make it. Employees are more autonomous and with that comes a new style of self-discipline and honesty we all must refine in order to effectively contribute to the business.  These are key new behaviors that we’ll need to thrive in the Future of Work.

A Place You Want To Be

Now, the onus is on employers to create inclusive, productive environments that employees want to spend time in. Which brings us back to the almighty “C-word” at the center of a lot of conversations about organizations these days: Culture. Culture should be the consistent, re-occurring qualities an organization’s people possess — not the things to which they aspire. And they should be viewed as critical components to building trust within teams, inspiring innovation and driving success that will take companies well into the future.

Of course, a strong culture is only one component of a forward-looking organization. There’s no point in changing the way you think about work if you can’t change the way you actually do the work. Managers have a huge role to play here because we know that good managers strengthen their teams and those effects are exponential. Last week, I had the privilege of joining some of our top Citrix leaders at the kickoff session for our second-annual Strategic Leadership Program. This is an HR initiative tailored for Vice Presidents where they work together to learn, grow and create effective strategies to lead their teams. I’ll talk to you about this program again later because there’s a lot to share (!) but I will say the future of work came up a lot because the role of leaders has changed significantly. Leaders have gone from being time keepers and task managers to being enablers, encouragers, and strategic champions. And employers must support their leaders to not only get ahead of this transition but to thrive under a new “work” order. Stay tuned to this blog for more on this 😉

Every day of the week, I’m excited and humbled to be part of the Citrix team that’s realizing the future of work.

Part of that is the pride I take in our company’s relentless technological innovation, commitment to cybersecurity and the opportunities it creates for our customers. But it’s just as much the thrill of knowing how much we’re making possible for the people in those organizations, and for their customers, I take pride in all that this means for Citrix’ employees. The future of work is an essentially human story, and when humans are inspired and empowered, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.

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