The future of work – what do today’s workers want?

future of work AI culture HR collaboration

A leadership-led culture of trust and transparency, a focus on team connections as well as modern collaboration tools are among the top three elements that drive successful teamwork, performance and productivity, according to recent research.

It’s a no brainer that happy and engaged workers are likely to be more productive workers. Everyone wants to enjoy their job and feel valued; in fact this is when we tend to do our best work.

Today’s HR professionals have an important role to play in ensuring that staff enjoy coming into work and are able to meet their full potential. Recently, workplace collaboration hub, Slack explored the issue of what workers want in its Future of Work Study.

Among the findings, it was found that openness and transparency ranks highly.

For example, 80 per cent of workers want to know more about how decisions are made in their organisation and a further 87 per cent want their future company to be transparent.

According to Robby Kwok, VP of people for Slack, “workers crave transparency. They want to know what’s going on across their organisations.

“For some, it’s about the ability to understand and align with strategic priorities.

“For others, transparency helps them grow professionally, whether that’s through access to wider industry trends or learning about opportunities to take on projects outside of their normal role.”

Kwok feels that engaged knowledge workers will do their best work and want to stick around, whereas staff who don’t feel like they belong will have lower engagement and are more likely to leave.

“Linked to this, no-one should feel excluded,” he said.

“An open and transparent culture can help to make everyone feel included. Opinions should be valued and debated, and, encouraged.”

When it comes to transparency, workers specifically want to know more about:

  • Their company: Business strategy, what and how decisions are made, and the financial health of the organisations
  • Their colleagues: Internal information, promotions, and company-sponsored events
  • Their competition: Industry trends, external events, and overall competitive awareness

The study, which was conducted by research firm Kelton Global and took in almost 1500 knowledge workers across the US (500 of whom are also users of the workplace collaboration hub Slack), found that while 55 per cent of business owners described their organisation as very transparent, only 18 per cent of their employees felt the same way.

“The value of connectedness cannot be underestimated when it comes to creating a collaborative and productive workplace”

This discrepancy suggests that some businesses leaders need to go further in how they structure the flow of information in their organisation.

The study also found that 91 per cent of workers are looking to feel closer to their work colleagues, while nearly 85 per cent of workers want to feel more connected with their remote colleagues.

Kwok observed that workers want to feel connected to the work they are doing and the colleagues they are working alongside.

“The value of connectedness cannot be underestimated when it comes to creating a collaborative and productive workplace,” said Kwok, who explained that being connected isn’t just achieved by having the right technology.

Collaboration tools, like Slack, and app integrations may help to foster a transparent working environment, but Kwok said it’s the underlying culture of a workplace that really drives this sense of connectedness.

“Connectedness consists of both a sense of belonging and an appreciation of diversity,” he said.

Instilling a sense of belonging is crucial for organisations, and he believes employees should feel free to be themselves in the workplace.

Looking ahead, HR professionals should be listening closely to the needs of their staff, as the workers of today are writing the next chapter of organisational history. And this will greatly shape the future workplace.

As millennials enter the workforce in greater numbers, they expect technology that enables them to communicate as easily and quickly at work as they do outside of it.

The study found that 4 out of 5 workers expect colleagues to answer emails as quickly as possible, while a further 74 per cent would prefer to send real-time messages at work.

Interestingly, frustrations with current tools like email – which was not designed for rapid (or for that matter mobile-friendly) communication – cut across all generational lines, according to the study.

“If you trust people, they’ll reward your trust, so we share pretty much everything, from financials to strategy, with everyone in the organisation”

Instead of revealing themes like Millennials only want to IM all day and Boomers are beholden to the email inbox, the data suggests solidarity – across generations – in dissatisfaction with many legacy communication tools.

Inside HubSpot’s approach to communication & collaboration
Inbound marketing and sales software company HubSpot has taken a collaborative, technology-enabled approach to increase transparency and improve communication across the business globally.

This has strengthened organisational culture, improved engagement and increased performance and productivity, according to HubSpot’s APAC culture manager Claudia Shepherd.

“HubSpot’s culture is built on the belief that the way people work and live has changed,” said Shepherd.

“That includes the tools we use in our day-to-day lives at work. Most employees want to work whenever, and from wherever, in a way that’s convenient for them.”

Employees use a range of apps and tech in their personal lives, and she said that using tools that look and feel similar to those they’re already using everyday makes communicating at work a more seamless process.

HubSpot has been recognised as a best place to work thanks to a range of factors including its open and inclusive culture, communication and collaboration across the company.

“We default to sharing as much information as possible,” she said.

“If you trust people, they’ll reward your trust, so we share pretty much everything, from financials to strategy, with everyone in the organisation, including interns, executives, and everyone in between.”

With offices in eight locations, spread across five continents and many different time zones, Shepherd said that international and interdepartmental teams across HubSpot have improved the way they collaborate via Slack.

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