I was at the Future of Work micro-conference that took place in February in Madeira Island and was asked if the power had shifted from employers to employees.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot lately, and I don’t think it has actually shifted. But what I think has been happening over the last year and a half, is that people are awakening to better ways of working and healthier work cultures with better leadership styles.

So, it’s not that the power has shifted to the workers, they are just claiming to not have their own power being taken away by an organization and their leaders. They have decided not to compromise, or at least not in the long term.

The requirements and needs of the workforce have increased. Now it’s not only important to have a great work environment. The talent wants to choose where to work from, work for a purpose beyond profit, perhaps have shares in your company and unlimited holidays and while we are at it, a 4-day workweek.

2022, is for me the year of the Great Awakening.

What do I mean by that?

Well, in 2020, a large majority of the workforce jumped into hybrid and remote work. At first, people simply accepted that they would have to adjust and balance personal with professional life for the upcoming months. A good portion of those people thought it would only be temporary and that was just their reality at that moment.

In 2021, that way of thinking started changing. The vast majority of people began thinking: “You know what, I’m actually enjoying this. There is more to life than just work. I do take great pride in my work, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that defines me. Work serves me to finance my lifestyle but it is not what I should be living for. It feels good not to organise my whole life around work anymore.”

Now, in 2022, that’s when the real mindset change took place. And that’s why I’m calling it the year of the Great Awakening. This is the year people started fully realising that it is possible to continue working remotely and recognising the benefits associated with it. After two years, the work is still being done and businesses are (not only) still up and running successfully, many are indeed thriving.
Work-life integration is possible after all.

Nowadays, more and more companies are adopting remote work and human-centric systems.
Take Safety Wing, Remote or Gitlab as good examples. Remote’s Handbook is even made public to help other companies adopt some proven, successful practices that support remote work.

And the workforce understood that they could actually work for companies like these that are more focused on giving people more flexibility and autonomy, more work-life integration, more chances to work at home or from anywhere they wish to, to have a healthier balance between personal, social, and professional life. To also spend more time with their loved ones, to see their kids being raised, to look after their pets and dogs.

And even if they are not aware that there are organisations offering all these options, people are quitting their jobs: the Big Quit movement that started in 2021, has now expanded throughout the globe. Change is no longer an option for all the leaders out there. When they don’t enable it, their people are the ones that make it happen.

When we look at some data from this year alone, 20% of the workforce around the globe feels disengaged at work, 41% plans to resign from their jobs and 46% of workers consider relocating and working remotely. For close to 50% of Gen Zs and Millennials office or hybrid work is no longer an option.

More and more, I see the people around me becoming increasingly selective with the list of companies they’d consider working for. When in an interview, questions regarding the company’s culture, environment, work policies, and flexibility are asked. They don’t want just a job – the role and career (progression) matter less than their own well-being and satisfaction or happiness.

And according to Gartner, these are some of the trends you can expect to observe this year:

  • shorter workweeks will become more attractive than salary increases;
  • employee turnover will continue to rise as people choose to work remotely or in a hybrid mode refusing to go back to the office;
  • employee well-being becomes a new metric companies will take into account;
  • an increased need of organizations to have a designated HR employee overlooking the question of purpose.

As I mentioned in my article The War for Talent in August last year: “In the past, the workforce was trying to get the best work-life balance out of the job they had. Nowadays, people look for jobs based on their lifestyle choices and are less likely to make sacrifices for a career than ever before.”

While it may seem like a gigantic step to upgrade your organization’s culture and leadership style, if you want to capitalize on a motivated and dedicated workforce that will move mountains for you, open yourself to creating a whole new way of working that fits both the business and the workforce.

We are living in exciting times when it comes to co-creating the future of work. It is not that we are reinventing the wheel as many of the workplace practices being adopted today have already been proposed and even tested by different maverick entrepreneurs who challenged the status quo in their own organizations. However, only now do we see a collective movement of employees and employers increasingly taking steps that challenge the way we do work and run organizations.

In my personal opinion, we are building better, sustainable work ethics where all spheres of our lives can be better integrated. People will finally be able to look at their work and professional life in a different light. We will not only work to have a source of income or something that will give us a certain social status, but to support a business we believe in, to give back to the community, to get involved in projects with different people, to challenge ourselves to keep learning throughout our lives and developing various skills and abilities.

As the Great Awakening is loading, I look forward to continuing witnessing and catalysing the shifts and upgrades that are taking place in organisations around the world. This change movement will define how we do work in the years to come.