Future of Work: Work-life integration


26 Nov, 2022

Marcus Mossberger is a Future of Work Strategist at Infor. He has experience working across HR, strategy and sales, and humorously describes himself as a “recovering HR practitioner”. Today, his focus today is on people with the goal of elevating the way humanity works.

Infor develops complete solutions for its focus industries, including industrial manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, food & beverage, automotive, aerospace & defence, hospitality, and high tech. Over 60,000 organizations in more than 175 countries rely on Infor’s 17,500 employees to help them achieve their business goals. Infor is a subsidiary of Koch, the largest private company in North America, which provides the support needed to create value and transform lives.

How can we let technology do more?

Only 1% of jobs can be fully automated but 100% of jobs have a task that can be automated. We need a better relationship with technology in order to enable us to spend less time at work and make that time spent even more meaningful.

“Obviously the pandemic changed a lot and I don’t think we are going back to the way things were. Technology is going to play a role in the way people work in the future so one of the things we are attempting to do it automate the transactional elements of work for people, to provide data and to better serve the ‘deskless workforce’.”

Mossberger explains.

“80% of the worlds workforce doesn’t sit at a desk all day so giving them the opportunity to interact with technology in the flow of their work whether they are a nurse or a truck driver can be transformative,”

We want purpose, mastery and autonomy - and where we work is part of that autonomy as well as how often and how much we work.

Daniel Pink’s ‘Drive’ suggests that these are three main things we want at work. Deskless workers have been underserved by the largest technology providers yet they are increasingly reliant on technology to do their jobs and around 75% of them spend most of their time at work using technology. We spend a majority of our lives at work or asleep and the need to have purpose and meaning in what is being done is becoming increasingly important. It is critical that the future of work allows humanity more of a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

Time is the most valuable commodity we have. How we spend it is critical and we should spend less of it at work.

Work-life balance may not be attainable but we must strive for better work-life integration.

“There is no distinction between my personal role and my professional role and that is an important consideration. I don’t see the two as separate - I have no desire for work-life balance. I want work-life integration,”

“We are seeing strong burn-out in nursing - and healthcare - it’s just not sustainable. I think we have to do things pretty differently and moving away from conventional people strategies to much more contemporary ones. I think NearU is probably timing things quite well in recognising that flexibility is going to be a huge part of the future and so is autonomy,”

Henry Ford was a big advocate of moving to a 40-hour work week at a time when people were working 60-hour weeks and weekends. Part of it wasn’t just because he thought people would be more productive - which stood the test of time - it was also so that people could buy his cars. They would have more time being a consumer and arguably there is an economic advantage if we as society were to adopt a four day week - we are a very consumer-oriented society and we would have more time to go out spending.

“The new perfect work week of the future would be two days in the office - I think it is important, we get energy from people and this isn’t enough over Teams - and then two days to have flexibility, whether that’s working from home or working from NearU and then Friday off,”

Mossberger explains suggesting the created free-time can be used to improve quality of life and better understand our purpose at work.

There is a relationship between work and life - not just in terms of what we do - but spatially too. “The Donut Effect” is the flow of people leaving the city centre to suburban areas. The Donut Effect is strongest in larger cities and is pushing city centre relative prices down. Offices will need to become more conveniently situated than they may have seemed before which has shifted traditional hub and spoke way of operating towards a greater focus on smaller, decentralised ‘spoke’ points across the city and even different locations entirely.

Organisations need to be much more transparent about what they are doing, the impact they are having on the world, how much they are paying people and around wellbeing at work.

We need to understand that people bring their whole-selves to work, we don’t leave half at home, so how do we address these needs physically, mentally and emotionally?

We should feel like we are a part of the community that we work in, that we serve, that we live in, that we hopefully support - in some way, shape or form. The workplace should be a place for people to come together to collaborate. It is not easy to be creative and carry out heavy problem-solving remotely, you lose stamina quickly, you miss peoples not verbal queues. There will always be a need for people to connect in-person and covid showed us that. Whilst we can learn to adapt to less face-to-face work it is still an essential element of living. Physical space brings people together in a meaningful way that connects them and we will miss out on this intrinsic meaning if it never exists.

This article is part of ‘Future of Work’ - a series of guest articles discussing the latest ideas and insights around the future of work with key figures pioneering the future.