Lessons Learned from 2021 that will define the Future of Work


Daniel Masata: All right. Okay, good to go. It said on my screen. So I'll just assume that we are all live in this session here now. I see 35 people in the session and counting, so I'll just get this kicked off here. We have more participants joining us. First of all, hello, everyone. I'm saying hello from Denver, Colorado.

Daniel Masata: My name is Daniel Masata. I am the founder of. Volante is the workforce agility platform where our goal is to turn workplace and career change journey's into more proactive, positive and empowering experiences. I'm usually based out of New York out there on Long island. This is a German accent though, not the long island accent just yet.

Daniel Masata: I've been over here for 10 years. I'm very excited to host this panel with three star panelists here. This is the session talking about "lessons learned in 2021 that will define the future of work". We are going to talk about the impact of what work really looked like in 2021 on employee experience on company culture retention on ways of working inside of companies.

Daniel Masata: We're also going to talk about. How technology and digital tools influence people's workplaces and ultimately their careers. And we're going to talk about this much quota topic of up-skilling and reskilling as well, because as we see more change in workplaces and careers, obviously that drives demand and interest in upskilling and reskilling services and technologies and platforms. So as I mentioned already I have three superstar panelists here with me today. One of them, Mary's family, was part of this already last year. 

Daniel Masata: So great to have you back, Mary, and then Eleanor and Ranjit. Welcome on this stage as well. I'll switch things up a little bit compared to the other sessions here today when it comes to introductions. So what I'll do. I'll very briefly introduce all three of you, but then I'll ask and for every single one of you to, first of all, amend the introductions that I will have shared here. And then if you can add one fun fact or just a fact, right?

Daniel Masata: It's not funny, that's fine. But a fun fact, ideally about yourselves or your roles or your company. And I'll kick it off with you Eleanor. I think Eleanor is the VP for strategic solutions at paradox. Paradox is a company that recently. Raised $200 million in series C funding, which launched you all far into the unicorn universe.

Daniel Masata: I know in the north, so that cannot be a fun fact. I know that you are aware of employee number 36, at paradox, and now the team has grown to more than 400, we have the pleasure of working together at our previous company. And it is great to have you here. I'll continue with a Ranjit and then Mary, and then again, I'll ask you to just chime in here.

Daniel Masata: Add those fun facts here, Ranjit, you and I, we met for the first time back in 2006. Yeah, I know. I'm dating ourselves here. You know, we both went on to do many different things inside of Adecco Group at the time. You know, when I think of Ranjit, I think about someone who has a perspective on human capital management services and technology.

Daniel Masata: Like few others really? Right. Most recently led Lee Hecht Harrison global human capital services career transition career development company at a global level. And Ranjit is also one of the few people in my network. Who will know what the blockchain really is. I don't. And then last, but of course, not least Mary Finley, Chief People and Culture Officer at advanced group, a clinical research outsourcing and staffing company based out of Chicago, but with an increasingly global presence all around the world.

Daniel Masata: And Mary is truly. Trailblazing chief people, officer early stage customers for us here at Volante and always a pleasure to have in a setting like this year. So that was my short introduction to all of you. But now I'll open it up to you all established with Eleanor to add any items that I might've forgotten or any fun facts that you want to share with the group here.

Eleanor Vajzovic: I think it's a little funny, right? So since I get to sit on the topic of conversations and technology, and kind of blend the two together with Olivia, right, she's our virtual assistant for recruiters and part of the paradox, but fun fact from last year, she answered over 30 million questions, right?

Eleanor Vajzovic: 24/7, 365. And so she's probably one of the busiest assistants I've come across, you know, globally in about a hundred different languages. So a little fun fact that kind of blends conversation, human and a little technical. 

Daniel Masata: That's for sure. Sounds busy. Thanks for sharing that with the group year Ranjit.

Ranjit de Sousa: Well, I guess my fun fact would be much more in the moment, but a bit of a reflection of the future of work. This is the fault of a different platform I've been on just today. You know, Google meets zoom Microsoft team. And I think you know, it's a, it's just a good reflection of technology in how the different platforms that we are using, the kind of juggling them.

Ranjit de Sousa: And so I'm just happy that I was able to get onto this platform. Today, let alone talk about the blockchain Daniel. 

Daniel Masata: But yeah, the new normal right. 4, 5, 6 different platforms to interact with during any given day the new normal here in, in in the post or I guess still in the pandemic world. Yeah.

Daniel Masata: Great to have beyond as well Ranjit then over to you Mary. 

Mary Finley: Yeah, I love that. I'll pick up on Eleanor's you said Olivia had answered so many questions. I have a three-year-old named Nora who I think asked me that many questions in the last couple of weeks. She officially entered the why stage. So, I recently did some problem solving exercises and utilized the five ways.

Mary Finley: And then I came home and my daughter asked me five whys for all of the things that she wanted to learn and know. So that's my fun fact. I'll rely on her. I became a mom three years ago and that totally changed my experience with work and what it means in my personal life. And I'll, I guess I'll touch on some of that in 2021 to how our employees have juggled family and work.

Daniel Masata: Yeah, that's great. Thanks, Mary. I'm sure you were thinking that a teacher is, you know, asking your daughter to ask even more questions when she comes home. Right? So yes. My kids are 13 and 15 now. They asked me different kinds of questions now, but I still remember those days. Yeah, very good.

Daniel Masata: Well again, thanks. Thanks for having all of you on here. And of course thanks to everyone in the audience for joining this session. I said that we were going to talk about it. The impact of this, these new ways of working on culture on employee experience on talent retention. We're also going to talk about the impact of digital and workplaces and careers.

Daniel Masata: Eleanor is a great example there right away, right. Digital assistant that answers, you know, a lot of the questions that recruiters get bombarded with every single day. Right. A fantastic example. And then, you know, Ranjit, I would love to pick your brain later on here. On some of these topics of up-skilling and reskilling and how we can really make them tangible and actionable inside of companies.

Daniel Masata: Right. But what I would like to start with is the topic of. Culture and employee experience in this current world of work. That is certainly different from what it looked like two years ago. Right. And so, Mary, maybe to you, you know, Advanced Group is a company where culture, company culture and employee experience really is a core value in it.

Daniel Masata: And a key part of the value system inside of the organization. And I know of course, you know, there will be people listening here who say, well, it doesn't everybody say that doesn't every company says that. And I think everybody does, but I have had the privilege. Working with you and your peers on the C-suite at advanced group for I think over two years now.

Daniel Masata: And I know that it's true and I'll even, you know, we've been a little anecdote here from all work together, Mary that just confirms that point because, you know, Volante is a employee focused platform and you know, Mary, you know, in our work together, you have challenged us all along and, know, the entire team here at Volante, so thankful for this, but it really speaks to this point.

Daniel Masata: The other I'm making, you've challenged us all, all along to say, Okay. You know, we have a lot of tools and technologies in the organization already, right on the previous panel. One of the speakers referred to it as being an over tool. Right. I love that term. And you challenged us to say, okay, how can we make sure that this is not just an additional platform, an additional tool that sits on the side and ultimately people won't pay as much attention to, and instead it's a tool that technology that bundles activities that bundles content that really helps people do their job in a better and faster way. So I've experienced myself firsthand. What it means for you to say employee experience and company culture is important and our employees really come first. Right? So, You know, with that in mind, 2021, just outside of course that the Volante experience in my own experience, but 2021 has tested companies when it comes to this element of maintaining and further nurturing employee experience and culture and company culture sometimes as an employee, You felt disconnected from what's happening in the organization.

Daniel Masata: Sometimes you feel over connected, right. Is another zoom call. I see my colleagues again, you know, although it's 7:00 PM at night. So really just curious to hear from you and. Practitioner in trailblazer and the people in culture space. Mary, how did you deal with some of those challenges in 2021 and maybe to begin with what were your biggest challenges as a Chief People Officer during these challenging times? Yeah. 

Mary Finley: Question. Thank you, Danielle. And you're very kind when it comes to my profile, I appreciate that. So, how did we deal with it? I think the most honest and human answers we dealt with really one day at a time. And I think that actually says a lot about how we tried to bring our culture to life.

Mary Finley: It was really showing our own as an organization leader and organization showing our own challenges, being vulnerable and acknowledging to our teams that really, we had to understand what was coming at us that day, how to best navigate it and then make the best decisions that we could in that moment.

Mary Finley: And so, I look back on 2021 with so many lessons learned, so many experiences gained and a lot that I would have done differently had I had some of the knowledge that I have now but really viewing that through the lens of of the growth mindset and the and being agile and nimble to be able to respond and set that example as a company that we don't expect people.

Mary Finley: To have all the answers. And I think maybe we were all brought down a couple of notches over the last few years. And that's okay. Right. That's a good thing. So bringing some more humanness to what we do for our challenges, when I think back about 2021 in particular, because 2020 was like survival.

Mary Finley: Just get through the day, you know, hopefully we make it through the end of the year. Then 2021 really became that time to say, okay, Do we operate differently. Our company, like many others, started to experience rapid growth. So not only are we dealing with all of these challenges we're actually growing faster than we had then.

Mary Finley: So it's not even just getting back to the status quo, but being able to manage through all of the growth challenges too. So for us, from a people perspective, I'd say that it really came down to effective onboarding into the business. And I think more so around helping out. Helping our new employees, both leaders and staff understand why and how to work in our company versus just what they needed to do.

Mary Finley: And I would say that tech enabled our ability to do that using different tools, but it also challenged us to be able to really translate the human part of our jobs to people who didn't, who don't know us, who haven't felt what it's like to work. At our company. And so onboarding is a challenge that we're still working on.

Mary Finley: I think secondly, creating that connection beyond just new staff, but creating the connection of being a part of this organization and being attached to something bigger, being supported by your colleagues and the company really needed to bridge that gap as well. And then lastly, I mentioned we had kind of a rocket year after the beginning of the pandemic.

Mary Finley: So balancing growth with realistic expectations and. It's not always symbiotic. Right. And people have different definitions of realistic expectations. So really helping our leadership team and our organization navigate how to really lean into the growth that we were experiencing, but do it in a way that preserved, you know, kind of employee wellbeing, our culture.

Mary Finley: And that's an ongoing challenge for us too. I think from a technology perspective, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did without technology. I mean, just the platforms that we connect on hosting hundreds of our employees globally on culture conversations and allowing them to be on video and share and have that dialogue across our teams.

Mary Finley: It made a huge impact, but technology has not always been able to bridge that physical distance. Between each of us. And so for us, I think technology really leaning in on the personalized experience with technology, kind of that more human versus it being a layering on I think is kind of where we look to go from here.

Daniel Masata: Yep. Great insights, Mary, thank you. And Eleanor, this topic of technology and the crossroads of technology and human, right then employees is what I'd like to use as a segue to your scope of work and what you see in the market. But just to react to one thing here, Mary, that stands out to me in what you just shared with us.

Daniel Masata: You know, walking this fine line between high growth in markets on top of that, you know, seeing growth even beyond your current existing markets and going into national, right. With the international expanders that you went through. You know, so. You're in need of a high performing organization.

Daniel Masata: Everybody has to be in on the, you doing that, A game here. And at the same time, you just said also it was important to be even more human with your employees than ever before. Right. Maybe giving us a little slack here and there. Maybe understanding that everybody's still trying to figure out, you know, whether they have a three-year old or a 15 year old.

Daniel Masata: There's just so much that came together. And I think you know, if I was in the audience, yeah. I would think, you know, wow. Making that a topic at the chief people, officer a C-suite level inside of the company is really how you address these moments and how you help employees navigate these difficult moments.

Daniel Masata: Right. So, that's great to hear. Thanks for sharing. And then again Eleanor, you know, when I hear Mary talk about the crossroads of technology and humans, right? You just said it, you are one of the keys. Products or features, I don't know how you would call it a paradox, is a virtual assistant that takes workload off of the shoulders off of a recruiter and recruiting to use inside of organizations.

Daniel Masata: That's a great example of you know, a technology that for many is probably looked at as a great help. But maybe by others also as a potential threat, because you know, maybe Olivia is better at answering certain questions than I am. So how do you help organizations deal with some of those questions that probably I would think come up or maybe they don't, you know, you'll tell me, but that crossroads of technology and human is right where you sit with paradox.

Daniel Masata: So, you know, what was 2021 like for you all? And what were the biggest challenges for you? 

Eleanor Vajzovic: Wow. Yes. I mean it, all of the above, right? When it comes to the questions and the concerns and whether or not they're outwardly stated, or also assumed and kind of sneaking in the back of, you know, of recruiters, minds, coordinators, minds, or even the talent acquisition teams.

Eleanor Vajzovic: Right. It's just like, oh, you can schedule interviews. You can answer questions. Yes. Sending out reminders. Well, those are all the things I do every day. You know, what does that mean to my job? And I think, you know, if I break it down to the reflections of last year, a lot of it really did come down to humans.

Eleanor Vajzovic: You know, when we're doing solutions and we're working through a client problem, set, those problems are surface by, you know, it's not a buyer conversation. You know, what are the candidates experiencing? What are the talent acquisition teams experiencing? What are the problems, the hurdles, the things that are stopping them from taking action or hiring someone or onboarding someone even.

Eleanor Vajzovic: Right. And so all of that, you break down the problem, you work through that. And through those conversations, you see. You see, you know, what are we missing? Is it a conversation? Is it a reminder? Is it a, is it something that we can automate that a technology would be best, better suited to do?

Eleanor Vajzovic: Because it's happening at 11:00 PM at night, it's happening, it's needed over the weekend. And so when we come down to the problem set, when we look at the options for, is it a people. So, is it a process solve or is it a technology solve or is it a combination of all three? Right. How do we introduce that with a balance of it's no longer disruptive technology, right?

Eleanor Vajzovic: It's needed technology, it's assisted technology, and we balance it with the appetite tight of change. Everyone's going through it. Everyone's accepting it, but we also balance it with an introduction. How much is too much, right? So it might be that we coordinate or build a solution that is happening that is helpful for this rapid growth.

Eleanor Vajzovic: So we need to hire a thousand people and we need to find ways to do this and hire a class and interview schedule to start. You know, all within five days, five hours, right. Or it could be a problem that we're solutioning for where it's a decline where we're having to communicate a change in the schedule.

Eleanor Vajzovic: We're no longer opening the office in Dublin, Ohio, and we're having to redirect those resources or mass messages and we're having to. To a different type of solution where the recruiting team has shrunk by 50%. So how do we multiply them and give them an assistant to help with time, with energy, with activities and multiply that team.

Eleanor Vajzovic: Right? And so being able to be that partner develop that solution, but with the human problem, set off the ebb and flow and be flexible enough to be that solution either way. Has been where we had to adapt. Right? We learned that not every problem is one directional, that it could be a problem that we face in the first three months.

Eleanor Vajzovic: That problem, which may no longer be a priority in the next six months. And how do we ensure that we adapt, we change and we support no matter what right. And be available. And sometimes it's not even a technology solution. Sometimes it's literally a listening solution, how do we support you? How do we empathize with you and how do we connect with you so that you can service and really be that problem solver for your teams and extension of clients.

Daniel Masata: That, that sounds like a, you know, like a very thoughtful approach to digitization and digital transformation with your customers, right. And with the teams there and it's really interesting and really good to hear this because, you know, as I'm listening to you and hearing you describe. I would almost use cases right.

Daniel Masata: At a high level where a Paradox and Olivia would come in. I feel like you know, being thrown back into probably 1999 or 2000 when I started. career In this industry as a recruiter, as a helper in a professional staffing office over in Germany. And I you know, I probably, I was what more I did, what Olivia does today, probably what Olivia should be doing.

Daniel Masata: Right. So if I put myself into that, into those shoes again, and you know, You are part of a team you're working for, you the more senior level recruiters or the sales team, and you're doing all these little things and then technology. Come into the picture, knowing that the people who introduced that technology have a thoughtful approach, like the one you were describing to really understand the full picture.

Daniel Masata: What's the people's side of this? What's the technology side of it? What's the process side of it is great to hear. I'm sure we're going to get back to that again in a little bit here, Eleanor, but maybe to pull Ranjit in here as well. Right? Ranjit. I said earlier, you've seen so many. Aspects and dimensions of the human capital management industry and services and technology across the globe, really.

Daniel Masata: But one of the topics that I know is near and dear to your heart as well. And to what you've done professionally is this upscaling and rescaling space, right. Again, listening to Eleanor here talking about how you know, probably both broad and deep, some of the changes is that technology in this space can now drive just makes me think that especially our industry right here, everyone on this call in the audience is in human capital management, staffing, HR services, very people, intensive industries.

Daniel Masata: It just sounds like it feels like people will have to acquire new skills and really be on top of their own career journey. Right. What do you think were the biggest challenges and what have you seen as the biggest challenges for companies in 2021? And where do you think we're going from here?

Ranjit de Sousa: Yeah. And again, big question as the others were before what I would say, you know, to put it in one word is speed. But that has been the biggest challenge, because I do not believe that any of the trends that we're seeing and I'll get to the kind of underlying trends in a second, but none of these trends, you know, were unforeseeable or not happening already pre COVID.

Ranjit de Sousa: But I think, you know, the last couple of years, it's just been a slingshot into the future everything is gotten so accelerated, and that has really been the challenge for dealing with the speed at which stuff is happening. So, you know, when you think of the trends, which are really posing the big challenges, and I think, you know, for companies big and small and in the recruitment industry and outside of some recruitment industry for that matter it's definitely automation, digitalization as, Eleanor and Mary were mentioning and re ensuring that you have in house to skills for specific topics like data science, digital marketing certain coding skills and the challenge that you just can't find those skills out there in the market. Right. Or they come at a very high price. So I think that is the first big challenge that you dealing with.

Ranjit de Sousa: I think at the same time as a great article this week and the economists around that specifically about the US but this goes for pretty much all of North America and Western Europe, the workforce has shrunk. So we've been talking about how the baby boomers are gonna retire there for probably a decade, but it actually happened in the last two years, right on the last year.

Ranjit de Sousa: And that means that our workforce has permanently shrunk and that is going to provide us with a huge challenge that is creating a huge shock for. Right now. And so I think that's the second thing, which I saw really marked way. You know, in the last couple of years some folks will tell you, for example, the engineering industry that they've been dealing with this for some time already.

Ranjit de Sousa: But I think now just really broadly a challenge. And then I think the third one is really at a personal level. A lot of people have reflected because of COVID, you know, what are their priorities? What do they really want to get out of work? Right. What is the purpose of the organization and what does my daily work look like?

Ranjit de Sousa: What is the culture of leadership and does that align with my personal priorities and personal values? And I think a lot of people have taken the conclusion that it doesn't. And that's a huge challenge, right? How do you get that? Right? Without even being judgemental, that there is a culture, which is right or wrong, it can be very different by industry, by company.

Ranjit de Sousa: But having a large part of your workforce, take them reflection. Take a step back and then actually take action, but there's always a difference between having an attention to, for example, leave a job and then actually putting that into action. But that's happening right now. I think that's also a huge challenge for any employer and all the organizations that I'm speaking to.

Ranjit de Sousa: And then the last thing which I would mention right is because we spend so much time at home. And then I have probably all had even those who might not have spent that much time in Netflix previously, I've had a lot of time to do so we've just been so exposed to the consumerization of technology that many people have come back to the workplace and said, you know, it cannot be that we are dealing with such, you know, old school technology on a day to day basis. A lot of the startups that I work with now in my jobs day-to-day, but they're working really on cutting edge technology. And the nature of the technology is really that it's consumerized, but it's very easy to use.

Ranjit de Sousa: The user experience is amazing. It's very intuitive. It guides you through an experience. And I think that is a huge change, which we're going to see in the corporate world and the B2B experience. 

Daniel Masata: Yeah. Yep. Great thoughts anjit. Around the last point. You're right. We're all so used to being able to manage our whole lives, you know, shopping and traveling and you name it on our phones and in ways that are just so can be.

Daniel Masata: You know, the expectation has at the same goes for the technology that we interact with in the workplace. Right? Yeah. Great thoughts there on it. And then on your second last point there was a question here in the chat that I'd like to address, and I think you were kind of going, they already Ranjit, right?

Daniel Masata: This whole idea of the great realization, the great reflection. And then unfortunately also the great resignation You know, the question here in the chat here was you know, what to people, what are people really looking for most? You know, what, why is it that they're leaving? Is it the purpose?

Daniel Masata: Is it more money? Is it different ways of working? Is it what it really is? Any thoughts here? Any one or all three of you, I guess, what do you, what have you seen in 2021? And where do you think this is going? 

Mary Finley: I can jump in on that. My answer is not one of those things, so I'm not going to select one.

Mary Finley: I mean, I think where I, what I think people are looking for That I've experienced is really three things and you kind of have to have all three or else they're going to look somewhere else. And so the first I do think is competitive and fair pay. So I do think salary still is a huge consideration for people, especially with inflation and everything, all the other pressures that are in the market.

Mary Finley: So I think you have to have competitive pay. If you don't have that, you're not gonna be able to get the talent regardless of your culture. I do think you have to have visible opportunities for growth. And it needs to align with where they are in their career. You might retain them for 18 months to two years, but if you don't have that opportunity for growth, you know, you're not going to have much longer than that.

Mary Finley: And then I do think that culture and purpose alignment to to earlier comments is critical. I really think you have to have all three. And when you do, then you have an employee who's really brought in to your organization, feels really supported and aligned, and that's where you'll see more longer-term retention.

Daniel Masata: And there's Mary, there's no ranking for you in these items. 

Mary Finley: I think the pay to me is like Maslow's hierarchy. Like you have to get the pay. Right. But if you don't have the other two, then you're not gonna, you're not going to get that longer term employee. Yeah. 

Eleanor Vajzovic: And that's, you know, the yes. And to that right.

Eleanor Vajzovic: Is 2021 marks the year of the hourly worker. Right. And so when it comes to that, The pay, the speed that Ranjit was speaking on, right. That was critical. And then I would add the other, that kind of encompasses the culture is the transparency and that all can begin at the point of application. So I've applied.

Eleanor Vajzovic: Where am I in the process? Am I being dispositioned? If so, help me understand why okay. So this world of feedback is immediate. You know, and expected communication is real, you know, whether it's being able to like something on Netflix, right. As you mentioned Ranjit, right. Being able to also dislike something it's the same when it comes to the consumerization of expectation, right?

Eleanor Vajzovic: Is that if I'm disposition or if I'm not going to, if there's no action, no communication to me, whether it's a yes or whether it's a no you've lost me. Okay, you've lost me. And so how do we combat that? And I think that's a critical piece. And also if I'm to add one controversial piece of this too, is for those coming into the workforce, whether you've just recently graduated, you're an intern, you're an early, know, you're.

Eleanor Vajzovic: Let's see you're maybe one to three years within the workforce. There is an expectation to add one more item to that list. You know, that cow was brought up, which is technology. What technology am I going to use in this job? You know, how advanced is it? Right? How advanced are you as a company?

Eleanor Vajzovic: You know, can I access your website from my phone? Can I ask, can I connect with anybody? And if so, how. Right. What does that look like? And I think that is going to be a determination between, do I join meta, right? Or do I join, you know, LinkedIn even.

Mary Finley: Can I jump in on that, Daniel? Do you mind if I started going organic?

Mary Finley: So I think what's so interesting about that. Eleanor, what you said is, you know, being transparent about where you are as a company and your own tech enablement journey, so that when people are joining, they're not coming in and being like, wow, You don't have any of this technology that I would have expected you to have.

Mary Finley: And therefore, I don't feel like I'm supported at the level that I need. And frankly, my job is harder than it should be because I'm coming from, or that experiences where there was more tech on enablement. So it's interesting. Cause like how can we as a company, again, set those realistic expectations to say we're on a journey.

Mary Finley: We actually need you to be willing to be on the journey with us.

Mary Finley: That can be painful. And that's, you know, that's a lot of the growth that we've had as an organization is trying to find people who want to help us get to the other side of tech enablement but are willing to kind of do that dirty work to get there. Because it's not always fun to move from, you know, pre-tax and post-tax.

Ranjit de Sousa: Yeah, because I think the key word there. Right. And just to, to chime in the key word there is transparency, whether it's about pay. I think it's quite funny when people say. Purpose says that pay is the gate, right? That's not true. What is, it might have actually even become more important because of transparency today, candidates know way better, you know, what the pay rate is for every type of job.

Ranjit de Sousa: And then a very accurate level, right? And transparency also around capabilities and people want empowerment. You're not empowering people. If you tell them that you've got all these great capabilities and they start day one and figure out none of us is true. Right. And again, that's completely transparent way before day one.

Ranjit de Sousa: So I think for me, you know, transparency is the key word. When you think of the hiring process and how you need to create a great experience around than the hiring process. 

Mary Finley: Yeah, it can't be aspirational. You have to let people know where you are right now, but then also, you know, show that purpose vision of where you want to go and how they can play a part in it.

Daniel Masata: Yeah. Great thoughts. Great thoughts. Just continuing now, know, more on the path of, okay, so what now? Right. I mean, we've been focused so far I think more on. What 2021 looked like what some of the key themes were how you have all in your respective worlds, in your respective roles you know, navigated this again, extraordinary year in many different ways.

Daniel Masata: What now? Right. If I, again, if I put myself into the shoes of. Many of our friends here in the audience, right. Lessons learned from 2021. We've all heard now. And I think we can all relate to topics like, you know, employees having to juggle so many different things at the same time.

Daniel Masata: Technology comes into the picture. Puts a strain on people or the whole situation puts a strain on people because they are so busy already and here they are having to use a next piece of technology, having to think about what the impact is on their workplaces and careers. So I think, you know, the vast majority of people here in the audience can relate to all of that.

Daniel Masata: Now. You know, where are we going from here? Right. What are some tangible, actionable lessons, ideas, you know, little things that you can do during, you know, Mary to your earlier point during the onboarding process, right? How can you create that transparency even God, you know, even during the job posting process, not in onboarding, but way before that, during the job posting process.

Daniel Masata: How can you create that transparency? How can you make sure that people understand what they're getting themselves into? How can you help them understand how Olivia is going to make their lives easier? Right. So again, yeah, I guess, I guess I want to try to distill it down to, so what, right. How can we make sure that 2022 ends up being.

Daniel Masata: Another year. That's really challenging. Like 2021 was, well, maybe even 2023 all the way 94 is another challenging year. What should we be doing differently? Going forward? Any thoughts here? I know I have a tendency to ask heavy questions here, but I'm actually looking for, you know, simple things you have.

Daniel Masata: If I had you know, staffing recruiting you know, outsourcing business what should I be on top of, for to be the next couple of years? 

Ranjit de Sousa: So I'm a little biased, right? Because I work every day with amazing startups. But my keyword there would be experiment. A little like Mary was saying we call to take a day by day.

Ranjit de Sousa: But in order to adapt day by day, you got to experiment. Right. And without doing a shameless plug for Olivia or paradox at all right, but experiment with Olivia, if you haven't used her yet. Right. If you see a problem. Think about, you know, what kind of venture startups can you bring in to solve the problems?

Ranjit de Sousa: I think that's what has to be the word. One of the words that you have to be thinking of experimenting on an ongoing basis. 

Mary Finley: Yeah. I love that. Rajit. I think then coupling that with the transparency and your leadership to make that essentially permissible celebrated so that people do have that option to experiment.

Mary Finley: We've been really trying to one of the phrases that my CIO and I kind of bat back and forth when we need to hear it on both sides is progress over perfection. 'cause I think we often, especially in a corporate environment, you know, you feel obligated somehow that the end result has to be ideal.

Mary Finley: But we know so much is changing so quickly that what was ideal even three days from now might not actually be what it should have been. So we needed to pivot day one or two. So I think that adjustment of the culture to be more vocal and transparent around being willing to experiment and move at that speed.

Mary Finley: So that people feel that it's acceptable and that there's not a fear of failure. So I think that's a lot of what change. Change hesitancy is that fear of failure. So how you can remove that from the corporate culture, I think would make a big difference. 

Daniel Masata: I love hearing all of that.

Daniel Masata: Yeah. I don't know yet. 

Eleanor Vajzovic: No, I love that. And thank you. Ranjit of course. But I think the, probably the most controversial thing that I can say today is that there's a work-life balance. Right. In the last two years it's been an imbalance. Right. And I think embracing that and allowing, you know, we as practitioners, right.

Eleanor Vajzovic: To believe that, to encourage that, it's, it is an imbalance. And part of that is then how do you bring your team on the journey of transformation or change? How do you continue to support the conversation with your. On this journey of transformation or change, or maybe the unknown that may come around in the next corner and the next turn.

Eleanor Vajzovic: But it is about being transparent about the journey. It's about being open to change and the possibility of change. Right. We may have a plan, but as long as we're communicative, as long as we're. You know, transparent and open and also supportive of each other as we go through the experiments that may come across, you know, in this journey.

Eleanor Vajzovic: I think that's important. I think we all know that. It could be a divisive and controversial conversation when change comes up when there's one direction or another, even bringing in a technology that might seem threatening or disruptive. And so how do we support each other to try. To accept.

Eleanor Vajzovic: And then also to understand that I could be wrong, right. We could be wrong. And really embrace the lesson learned from, again, that part of the journey, because it continues and it'll continue into 22 and 23. Right. 

Mary Finley: And maybe again, if you don't mind the work-life balance thing, you know, setting boundaries with technology, I think, is something that we are trying to. It's not, you know, as we introduce new technology, what are the boundaries you need to set with it?

Mary Finley: Because there can be that reticence to To create your professional life, to look more like your personal life and have that ready access to everything, because then it's never gone. It's there right next to your Netflix app. You know, my team's paying is right next to my WhatsApp, ping with my friends and you know, which one do I want to be paying attention to right now?

Mary Finley: And so I do think that it's not enough. I'll say a lesson learned for me is it's not enough to say, Hey, set boundaries. Right. You have to, as an organization, actually create structures to set those boundaries and also respect them from a leadership perspective so that you aren't saying one thing, but then acting differently and encroaching on boundaries that are set.

Mary Finley: And so I do think that. The assistive technology, you know, allowing the technology user to really kind of navigate how it's best going to fit and support the role that they're in or the work that they're doing, but then an additional layer to say, okay, as an employee of this company, here's how the company wants you to respect your own boundaries, your own work-life balance, so that we're enabling you to do that.

Mary Finley: Versus recommending you find work-life balance because I think what we've experienced over the last two years is that it's just not really possible unless the structure has changed to allow for it. You're not going to be able to carve out that balance for yourself. 

Daniel Masata: Yeah. Great. Great thoughts. My good friend and last year's speaker were on our panel as well.

Daniel Masata: And Mary said on the previous panel yet today that there's no, there doesn't seem to be a, not a one size fits all. I made my good friend Adam Hawkins, by the way, I should mention the name, right. Said that there's no one size fits all when it comes to. Dealing with the new reality is of working together and organizations remotely with more technology during times of change and, you know, situations that require agility coming at you.

Daniel Masata: Every single day. Right? So, what I'm hearing from you here is, you know, very much saying you know, how did you say it? Our Mary, you know, taking it one step at a time, one, one day after the other.

Mary Finley: I'll just be here one day at a time. So our companies 

Daniel Masata: great conversation, great insights. All of you. In closing here, I'm thinking.

Daniel Masata: You know, you've done, you've all done a great job you know, describing these lessons learned and how they impact the future of work. You know, maybe from the perspective of your respective organizations and Ranjit the work that you do for startups and venture back companies out there, you know, as kind of a closing statement here from every one of you individually at a personal level, I mean, obviously in your professional environments and your roles and your companies, but for you individually coming out of 2021 with these lessons learned in mind, what's the one thing that you are doing differently now compared to.

Daniel Masata: You know, before 2021 or going into 21 and 21, what's the one learning. And the one thing that you personally are doing differently in your roles with your team members with your peers, is there anything that stands out to you?

Eleanor Vajzovic: I'm going to say something a little bit, right? Cheeky. But at the same time it's real. I think FOMO is real. If you're used to traveling and being, we were talking about earlier, right? Being on a panel in front of people, you get the energy 150, a thousand people in a room. You feel it right. And you feel it, you're inspired by it.

Eleanor Vajzovic: Every giggle, every laugh, every aha. You can feel it, you can hear it right. It's different. You know, knowing that in a hybrid office where some might be in person and doing a whiteboard session, breaking down things, it's a little disconnected and feeling that. So I think, you know, understanding that I, myself.

Eleanor Vajzovic: You know, I feel that way where I am. Like, I have a fear of missing out in those interactive in-person sessions, but understanding that everyone. It's considerate. They have a family at home that may, you know, COVID is real. And the concern of health and safety is real. So how do we bridge the gap and make these interactive sessions?

Eleanor Vajzovic: Like, have you felt that way, you know, how do you ensure that there's connectivity that, you know, when you're thinking about. The meeting before allowing that transition to happen. That's just like, Hey, you're in this conversation, let's set the stage, let's set the room. Let's ensure that those, that may be, tend to be quiet, like have a spoke, have a moment, have a speaking part.

Eleanor Vajzovic: Right. And like, ensure that inclusivity includes and be mindful of the zoom fatigue. That may be real. Right. And so. Ensuring that the space is as interactive as it is, as energetic, interesting and involved. Despite the maybe virtual distance I think is, has been key. 

Daniel Masata: I love that, Eleanor.

Daniel Masata: Yeah, you're going the extra mile, you know, being even more mindful and present and, you know, I guess working harder to making these interactive conversations and forums and, you know, whether it's something like this year or just a daily meeting with the team feel as real as possible, right?

Daniel Masata: Yeah. That's a great thought. Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for sharing. Ranjit, Mary, any other thoughts? 

Mary Finley: Yeah, I can chime on with two things that are super simple, but you said you wanted some things specific? I promise this will go best in January, but I'm trying to be much more conscious about time and how I ask for others' time.

Mary Finley: And I think that's something that everybody kind of took a little for granted and one of the biggest lessons learned that gets to the work-life balance and other things. So. Canceling meetings, reducing meetings, not asking for a meeting, you know, some of those just simple things to make sure that I'm being respectful of others time in my own so that I can show up to meetings with better energy and take the time to recognize other people and spend spend time on the quality versus.

Mary Finley: You know, just shoving another 15 minute meeting in, so this will be the year I learn it. I go on record here.

Daniel Masata: Very nice. Ranjit Closing words here for you. 

Ranjit de Sousa: Yeah, absolutely. And then I'll break the rules as you know, I always do Daniel and I'll pick two things. One is probably a function of the age of my kids, but I've got a 11 year old and two six-year-olds and I've started to learn from them about technology.

Ranjit de Sousa: And it's a wonderful thing and it's just something I want to do in a very conscious manner. Even more so this year loads of stuff I don't like what I see, and I don't know if it's understandable, but it's a wonderful thing. Right. And kind of. 

Daniel Masata: Ranjeet will you share your tik-tok handle with everyone on this panel here.

Ranjit de Sousa: Exactly. Right. First thing I should be doing, I do want to be able to show you my dance moves. And the other thing which has also got to do with technology, but it goes in a slightly different direction. I love what you were saying, Mary, in terms of, you know, setting boundaries. I discovered how I can set the boundaries.

Ranjit de Sousa: Really in physical terms. Right. So where do I keep my devices? Where, when I'm in a meeting, if I want to be present that I'm, I have to actually put my phone somewhere else. Right. So using really physical separation to ensure boundaries when it comes to the use of technology has been really great learning for me last year and something I'm going to carry on.

Daniel Masata: That's great. That was a two like truly tangible and actionable items. And that's really what I think all of us here wanted to get to. Right. It's so easy to talk about lessons learned from 2021 at a very high level and the future of work. It all sounds so. High level and you know, all the way up there, but in the end, ultimately it comes down to these little things, right.

Daniel Masata: Ranjit, I love this, you know, put the phone away when you're in a meeting, when you actually want to listen to someone, you know, Eleanor's, are you a point, right? Let's make these virtual interactions. The fun and, you know, feel, feeling real by being in them and in the moment and really focused on what's happening here right in front of us.

Daniel Masata: So. Great thoughts. I think that takes us to the end of our session here. I know I had a blast. I hope you all enjoyed it as well. Of course, the three of you, but then the many people in the audience here as well. Thanks everybody for joining. And I look forward to reconnecting with many of you, all of you as quickly as possible, and thanks so much for making the time for this Mary, Eleanor and Ranjit Great job here.

Mary Finley: Thank you, Daniel. Thanks for having us. Thank you so much. 

Daniel Masata: Take care. Bye-bye 

Ranjit de Sousa: Thank you.


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Daniel Masata

Eleanor Vajzovic

Ranjit de Sousa

Mary Finley




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