As an executive coach I decided to focus my work on burnout prevention and organizational culture because I believe that work-life balance will be amplified in the future of the corporate world.
Even if for some industries the mere concept of work-life balance is unknown or may sound yet like a utopian idea, the pandemic has put a magnifying glass on the fact that if we want to thrive as businesses, we need to build healthy environments and stop overexploiting our resources. That includes human resources as a fundamental part of the equation of business success and sustainable environments.
During the pandemic the conversation about mental health at work, burnout prevention and self-care began to get louder because there were a lot of people overworking due to retrograde corporate cultures.
In some regions of the world the wellbeing of the employees is a priority, but for others like in some Latin-American countries that conversation is just getting started.
It is my hope to add a voice to that conversation.
When I started my consulting business (Mutat Mind Consulting), to help entrepreneurs and executives feel at peace and motivated at work, the pandemic hit, and I knew that the middle managers in many businesses would need some help to avoid burnout.
So, I focused my business primarily on accompanying managers to transition into this “new reality” by giving them tools to cope with distress and change.
That was how I went deeper into understanding the burnout syndrome, hoping to contribute towards building healthier, more empathic, and collaborative work cultures. During that journey, I spotted some priorities where we can focus in order to rethink the life-work balance. This is how I envision the future of work for some privileged areas of the world:
The pandemic helped us realize that we need to take care of our bodies, and our health, not just for ourselves but for others. Thus, in the future, businesses will create workplaces that encourage healthy eating, movement, and physical comfort that allow us to be more aware of the health of our bodies.
If the budget of the company allows it, there will be technology that ensures the physical health of employees, like with remote checkups, in-house medical technology, etc. Overall, businesses will have a better understanding of what a healthy workplace looks like and will be better prepared to face any other health crisis.
During the pandemic a lot of people who work in great enterprises and big cities decided to move to small towns and locations closer to nature. Consequently, I like to imagine that businesses will move their offices (when possible) to be closer to nature or will allow the employees that work remotely to locate themselves in healthier environments.
In this regard, I believe there will be companies that will cooperate with their employees to remodel or adjust their homes so that the workspace is as healthy as possible, to the point that home office stipends may become the norm. That might mean offering employees, adequate office equipment (ergonomically sound chair, faster internet connection, headset, standing desk, good lighting etc.).
Of course, a lot of big companies are already doing that, but I believe for many countries and regions of the world building healthy physical environments is still a thing of the future.
According to the Mental Health Foundation: “ When we enjoy good mental health, we have a sense of purpose and direction, the energy to do the things we want to do, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives.” (Mental Health Foundation, 2020)
The pandemic will be present in everybody’s mind for years to come. The suffering and upheaval that everyone went through were pivotal in our lives and in the history of our communities and businesses. Therefore, in the future, compassionate and positive work environments will need to be encouraged after the pandemic.
Today there are several companies that are helping their employees to take care of their mental health and working towards building positive environments, but there is still a long way to go in this regard. I believe that in the future, the preservation of mental health will be at the center of most companies` cultures.
People will be more open to discuss these issues and businesses will create a sense of community within their organizations to help each other thrive. Companies´ policies will change to keep up with this trend, not only by extending their medical insurance to cover mental health, but also by allowing and encouraging the conversation on mental health in the office.
Emotional Health and New Skills:
Emotional health could be encompassed on the mental health sphere, but I wanted to make the distinction because I believe that in the future one of the core changes that the corporate world is going to experience is the need to promote soft skills, especially the ones that involve understanding emotions, encouraging emotional intelligence will lead to happier employees and consumers.
According to Walter Vandervelde, the skills that will be needed in the future are the ones that are intrinsic to humans, because specific or technical knowledge is constantly changing, and they can be gained by keeping on learning.
The philosopher Marshall McLuhan said: “The future of work consist of learning a living.” With this in mind, maybe in the future some companies will create their own universities or study centers in order to be responsible for updating their personnel. If they want to growth, according to Vandervale these are the five skills that are the most important in order to develop any other skill like problem solving, leadership, working with others etc:
- Critical Thinking
- Social Intelligence
- Attention management
After moving around the coaching and wellness industry within the corporate world, this list of future skills seems to me the most succinct and applicable across industries.
Some of the changes that I mention above have already been adopted by a lot of companies that are taking steps toward including physical, mental and emotional health into consideration, but for the most part they are from privileged countries, there is still work in order to make that a reality for the rest of the world.
Altogether I just hope that whatever changes in the corporate world in the future, aligned with respecting and loving our planet and ourselves.
About the Author
Atala Romero is an executive coach, yoga instructor and Founder of Mutat Mind Consulting, Mexico, a consulting agency dedicated to help executives and entrepreneurs feel motivated and at peace at work, through conferences, coaching sessions, workshops and more.
- Mental Health Foundation. How to support mental health at work. Mental Health Foundation. (2020, August 10). https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work.
- Vandervelde, W. (2021, March 15). WINGS: The 5 primary skills for the future of work. Medium. https://waltervandervelde.medium.com/wings-the-5-primary-skills-for-the-future-of-work-461d128e23fc.