Reshaping business models and the workforce in the digital age

Written by Esme Banks Marr, account manager.

Seminar organised by Lewis Silkin’s ‘Future of Work Hub’ community.

Last Thursday I attended a seminar at the beautiful Aldwych House. The panel discussion was conducted under Chatham House rules; therefore, I can’t report to you exactly what was said. Those who were in attendance are lucky enough to be in-the-know and all I can say is, make sure you’re at the next Future of Work Hub event…

For more than a decade now, businesses have been disrupted or transformed completely by digital forces. The ‘gig’ economy has gained a significant foothold and accelerated a trend to more flexible employment arrangements. Traditional ways of doing business are also being challenged by the shifting economic, social and demographic landscape. Organisations across all sectors are under increasing pressure to be more agile and to rethink old ways of doing things in order to survive and thrive.

This event looked at how these forces are reshaping the world of work, the challenges of digital transformation and the implications of new forms of work for both organisations and the people who work for them.

Sometimes my life feels like a constant journey between workplace conferences, events, seminars and discussions. And nine times out of 10 the main focus is the physical environment. This however had a slightly different focus, and allowed my work interests to blend with the personal ones.

After a friendly welcome at the glorious WeWork reception, I made my way through the crowds of ‘oohhss and ahhhs’ – the standard noises that come from humans wandering around a WeWork space – to the side of the room where I found a plug on a bench desk overlooking Aldwych at rush hour.

Ade McCormack kicked off the evening with his lively keynote. Ade calls himself a ‘near futurist and digital strategist’ and his anthropological take on how humans have behaved, adapted and organised themselves over time was fascinating and refreshing. As well as advisory work, he has written a number of books and has lectured at MIT Sloan School of Management on digital leadership. He is also a former columnist for the Financial Times and CIO magazine, with a focus on digital leadership. He went on to discuss the extent to which the digital age is enabling people to work in ways which reflect their natural human nature.

The expert panelists shared experiences and insights on how forward-thinking companies are reshaping business models, workforce deployment, organisational culture and leadership to accommodate changes to the way they (and their people) work. Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA, best known for having led the recently published Good Work review into modern employment practices rocked up slightly late due to trains (sigh), but was such an excellent addition to the panel that nobody seemed to care. He was joined by Eugen Miropolski, MD of WeWork for Europe & Israel and Ella Bennett, HR director at Sainsbury’s-Argos.

A well organised and truly insightful event, with great opinions and concepts on the importance of developing people, culture and organisational structure to meet the demands of the new world of work.

Recommended reading: ‘Reinventing Organisations’ by Frederick Laloux

Ben Keeley