The idea of work is continually evolving beyond just a job and earning a living to an experience with purpose and meaning. The future of work is bringing with it emerging technologies and new ways of working many of which are bringing us closer together. However, in a connected world, sometimes it’s wise for individuals and organisations to step aside and think of how well we are connected to ourselves and to our workforce.
While the world of work is moving on, statistics and experiences around mental health issues and workforce engagement show there are still plenty of areas where further progress is required, and we all have a role to play in doing so.
Cpl Specialist Talent along with Cpl’s Future of Work Institute hosted an event on ‘Emerging Technology & its impact on Employee Health’ in Fora, Soho, London on February 20, 2020, which brought together expert speakers in some key areas relating to technology and health. Below are some of the highlights and key takeaways for your business.
“Our mission is to become the best at transformational talent, and we want to move up the value chain and become transformational partners. We don’t want to just talk about recruitment, we want to talk about your purpose that’s why we are holding events that focus on important topics just like this” – Affi Khan, Founder Cpl Specialist Talent.
Transforming Workplaces and Experiences
With the emergence of the gig economy, people are looking to spend more time finding purpose in and doing what they love. Technology allows this to happen. This is an interesting time with conflicting views on what the future of work is and how we can remould workplaces.
Barry Winkless, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Future of Work Institute highlighted the importance of seeing the “workforce as worknets.” He also posed the question “is it time for the workforce models existing over the last 400 years to change?”
With a change in working models and ways of working we are seeing emerging technologies such as immersive technology help employees use technology in a very practical and supportive way. Immersive Technology expert Thom Strimbu highlighted how combining neuroscience, computer vision and AR is helping firefighters see in smoke-filled conditions thus saving more lives. He emphasises that “technology is just a tool, and depending on how we use it, there is big scope for transforming workplaces and experiences.”
Breaking Stigma and Getting Strategic
There is an ongoing challenge to break the stigma that exists around mental health, both in work and outside of work.
“We find it easy to tell our boss if we are physically ill, so why can’t we tell them when we feel mentally ill?”, mental health activist Geoff McDonald posed to the audience.
All of that brought to the surface the various blocks and stigmas around discussing and accepting issues of mental health. Whether it be with colleagues at work, the person you are dating or your relatives. Geoff’s personal story with facing anxiety-fuelled-depression showed how lives could be saved and transformed if attitudes change in a way that enables individuals to open up about mental health issues.
We have however a long way to go. One of the most empowering steps an organisation can do is to help individuals talk and that’s exactly what Chris Patten is doing at Centrica. He has developed several communities or “guilds” that provide support and encourage open talking to help break down the barriers to stigma around mental health in the workplace.
Albeit, “organisations need to also consider how they may also be contributing to the problem”, said Workplace Wellness Lead, Elysia Hegarty. Traditional wellness programmes focus much on educating the individual on physical and mental health and very little on broader dimensions of wellness such as purpose, occupational, intellectual, environmental, financial and social wellness which too can have an impact on an individual’s health and well-being.
With technology posing both a huge benefit to organisations and individuals we are seeing that we too need some control over how often we switch off from technology to enable us to recharge our own batteries.
We are in a very challenging era where embracing technology is helping us become more connected however we need to equally ensure we do not lose the human touch. This loss of human touch can be more detrimental to our mental health than we may think. With the future of work bringing with it many changes, how we work, embrace technology and look after our mental health will need to change.