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World Changers: Exploring the future of work

World Changers: Exploring the future of work

By scarlettabbott
Inspired by our annual trend report, World Changers explores the events, themes and behaviours impacting our world of work. In the series we take a monthly dive into a topic from the report, discuss our predictions and talk with industry experts to get their take.

If you're an internal comms or HR pro, or have an interest in how the world of work is changing, do join us.
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Bad education

World Changers: Exploring the future of work

Self and safety
18 months of Covid-19 related anxiety, a looming threat of climate devastation, political fractions, and the rumblings of war. Never have we all felt so vulnerable at the same time. It’s an existential crisis on a global scale – and a fascinating anthropological study. So, what does a chronic feeling of vulnerability do to us? Recognising our response to risk, and helping people address it, can give us the tools to banish the burnout that comes with chronic and sustained stress. How can we do that in the face of so many threats and challenges? Who has the responsibility of taking on that task? And where do you even start? Cultural anthropologist Dr Alex Gapud chose this theme as his World Changer for our 2021 report. He joins lead behavioural scientist Lindsay Kohler and our host Elle Bradley-Cox to talk self and safety.  Later in this episode, Elle chats with Janet Lessells, senior internal communications manager at SGN to get her views on creating an environment where employees feel safe to speak up. TIMESTAMPS 00:00 Intro to the episode. 01:25 Roundtable with Elle, Alex and Lindsay 01:27 What impact does prolonged stress have on our wellbeing? 11:45 What does a lack of boundaries do to our psychological safety? 15:35 Do you have examples of where psychological safety has been compromised in a workplace? 18:50 What about examples of where it's done well? 26:07 Whose "job" is psychological safety? 27:25 How can we encourage psychological safety in a hybrid workplace? 31:30 Interview with Janet Lessells, Internal Communications Manager, SGN 32:01 What does psychological safety mean to you? 35:06 Why is it particularly important at SGN 36:18 Can you share an example of where people have needed to speak up recently at SGN? 37:33 Do you think people will lose the ability to be as open as they have been as we move to hybrid working? 39:30 What will best make people feel safe to speak up at work? 42:24 Who do you nominate as your 2021 World Changer?
October 8, 2021
Smells like team spirit
Zoom fatigue, long days spent alone in spare rooms, the absence of the watercooler. The face-to-face famine that lockdown gave us definitely impacted our wellbeing. But what about our cultures? Without those spontaneous moments of connection, our lives become more regimented and, for some, the cultural cornerstones found in the office felt very far away. Many reported a feeling of disconnection after the novelty of virtual quizzes wore off. While the world may now be opening back up, the shift towards a hybrid future leaves us in cultural hinterland. How can we as internal communicators, help to bridge the divide to maintain cohesion? Senior consultant Lisa Hawksworth chose this theme as her World Changer for our 2021 report. Host Elle Bradley-Cox joins Lisa, and head of client experience Russ Norton for a very cultured conversation. And later in this episode, Elle chats with director of communications Sen Sami to find out how she’s channelling her passion for culture at aerospace and defence company Raytheon. 01:25 Roundtable with Elle, Lisa and Russ 01:25 What have you observed about workplace culture since the pandemic? 03:38 Are there cultures that sank or swam during Covid? 04:53 Can you replicate cultural markers without a physical workplace? 09:36 How can change the perception of culture as a 'fluffy nice to have?' 17:15 Will culture be influenced by a changing jobs market and talent pool? 21:21 Interview with Sen Sami, director of communications, Raytheon UK 21:49 You have a new initiative called 'High Performance Culture' - tell us about that 25:38 Did the pandemic change the course of direction for that project? 27:16 How did you keep culture front of mind amid all the change and challenges? 28:40 What drives Raytheon UK employees? 30:29 What has the pandemic taught you about trusted and non trusted sources? 31:01 Who would you nominate as your 2021 World Changer?
September 3, 2021
Bad education
We don’t need no education. Or do we? The current education system has long been based on a narrow and linear learning structure, assessed by arbitrary markers. At school we work towards grades that, on paper, indicate a level of competence. But when we move from learning to earning, we’re often ill prepared to meet our employers’ expectations. It can be quite the culture shock. And what about those learners who march to the beat of their own drum? Busy teachers don’t always have the resources to offer the learning styles they need to thrive, so they don’t. After a year of major disruption to our education systems, and with the world of work facing skills shortages and succession challenges, what can we do to bridge the gaps? Host Elle Bradley-Cox is joined by the author of this World Changer, Alastair Atkinson, and marketing manager Kate Went, as well as special guest Sarah Magee, Professional Development Manager at the IoIC, as they go back to school. Want to skip to a specific section? Here's what we talked about: 00:00 Intro to the episode. 01:27 Roundtable with Elle, Alastair and Kate 01.32 Al, why did you choose this theme? 03:35 How important is talent attract right now and how does it link to brand? 07.19 What impact has Covid had on the education system? 13.38 What about work experience. Is it worth it? 16.38 What about diversity when it comes to talent attraction? 20.04 What can we be doing to bridge the gap between learning and earning? 23.20 Interview with Sarah Magee, professional development manager, IoIC 23.51 Have your views on the education system changed since you wrote for our report? 26.43 How can we as IC prosfessionals help create meaningful change in the system? 30.00 Are we seeing the IC talent pipeline changing now? 33.02 What are the biggest skills gaps in our industry right now? 34.06 Who do you nominate as your 2021 World Changer?
August 10, 2021
Vive La Revolution
Hierarchy is a staple of corporate life. Careers have been built on it, power is wielded through it, and those at the top of the ladder aren’t going to cede their place easily. But now we’ve glimpsed into the CEO’s bedroom, and seen frontline colleagues transform into superheroes, how will that revolutionise stereotypical workplace structures? The pandemic may have accelerated the operational transformation of many businesses, but can we genuinely say the same about internal hierarchies? While we may have been presented with an opportunity to reinvent, the appetite to do so has been lukewarm in many boardrooms. So, is it time to shake up the status quo? What are the opportunities for businesses willing to break with tradition? What are the risks for those who aren’t? Senior consultant Daniel Lambie chose this theme as his World Changer for our 2021 report. Host Elle Bradley-Cox chats with Daniel and scarlettabbott co-founder Rachel Thornton to get their views on whether hierarchy still has a place in our new world of work. And, later in the episode, guest Kate Shaw, senior internal comms manager at Nationwide shares her thoughts on what the future of work means for organisational hierarchies. Want to skip to a specific section? Here's what we talked about: 00:00 Intro to the episode. 01:30 Roundtable with Elle, Daniel and Rachel, exploring the rise of employee activism. 00:50 Now we're transitioning to a hybrid world of work, will all those possibilities vanish? And what's the effect it will have? 04:28 Let's talk about the place for hierarchy in a post-pandemic workplace.  Do you feel like that will have to change in some organisations? 09:58 Who's doing this well at the moment when it comes to evolving the hierarchy? 11:16 Framing is really important. People can be turned off by words like  "policy" and "process". What are the ways people are making this sound  sexy to employees? 12:16 How do how do good leaders balance the risk that comes with being more agile? 19:18 What should organisations and good leaders be thinking about right now? 21:48 Remote working brought a kind of 'digital democratisation' for quieter  voices. Will we lose that as the start to return to previous ways of  working? 25:21 It's a big leadership mindset to flip from command and control to enabling. What will that take from leaders? 28:04 Do you think businesses are ready at this point to truly embrace change? 30:00 A conversation with Kate Shaw, Nationwide, about the organisation's future of work plans and the impact on it's structure. 33:50 Nationwide  has been so progressive with your future of work vision. How has it  landed with various levels of leadership and management? 35:56 You mentioned, 'if one person's virtual, then everybody should be virtual' - how does this look going forward? 38:40 How do you think the future of work vision will affect your hierarchy at Nationwide? 40:44 Did Nationwide have aspirations to flatten the hierarchy pre-pandemic? 42:54 What are you doing to equip your leaders for success? 46:31 It might be too soon to tell, but how is colleague perception and expectation of leaders to follow through? 52:46 Who would you nominate as your 2021 World Changer?
July 7, 2021
The great awakening
Diving in to another topic from our 2021 World Changers report, Elle Bradley-Cox explores the rise of activism. Switched  on, tuned in, politically aware. Woke. Every generation has its own  expression for activism. Whatever you call it, 2020 was one of those  landmark turbulent years when it took an angry and bloody leap forward.  Being locked down made us wake up. A year on from the death of George Floyd, and in the wake of Sarah  Everard’s murder, political scandals, social unrest and a burgeoning  climate crisis where black, minority and indigenous communities are  disproportionately affected, how much has really changed? We may be  louder at vocalising the injustices we see in the world, but it doesn’t  stop them happening. And as the slow pace of change and reform causes our frustrations to  mount, we often look to our employers, hoping to see them throw their  considerable power and weight behind the causes we care about. Too  often, they’re found wanting. Elle Bradley-Cox joins head of client experience and D&I champion Russ Norton and senior writer and sustainability maven Jacey Lamerton to answer the question, can we really ban this politics from the factory floor? And should we keep the status quo as we pretend to embrace all  views? Or no views at all? Whatever we decide, internal communicators  are in the seat of power. Guest interview Sally Bucknell, Director, Diversity & Inclusiveness at EY
June 7, 2021
Stigma in the shadows
Diving in to another topic from our 2021 World Changers report, Elle Bradley-Cox explores taboo topics in the workplace. Do you remember when talking about your mental health at work was off-limits and considered a massive overshare? Unwritten social rules dictated that certain topics were off the  table. But the Covid catalyst meant we had a collective shorthand to  point to. We were ‘all in the same boat’. It was ok not to be ok. It  always should have been – but the stigmas associated with taboos made  them impossible to explore openly. But now, the floodgates are open. Organisations are restructuring  their benefits, examining their policies and putting mental health  centre stage. For some, the gesture is still more performative than  productive. But the conversation has well and truly started. So, what’s next? From periods to politics, menopause to money, what  are the taboo topics lurking in the shadows? And how can we in internal  comms, help bring them into the light? Elle Bradley-Cox joins lead behavioural scientist Lindsay Kohler and head of client experience Russ Norton to share the stigmas they believe should be brought out of the shadows. Guest interview In this episode, we turn the mic back on ourselves, for a candid conversation with senior consultant Alastair Atkinson about his experiences with anxiety and depression, and his thoughts on what organisations can do to best support their people. 01:44 Roundtable with Elle Bradley-Cox, Lindsay Kohler and Russ Norton, exploring taboo topics in the workplace. 01:51 Lindsay, what made you want to explore stigma specifically? 02:32 After 2020 many topics are out in the open. From mental health to BLM, how do we decide where to focus our energy? 05:15 These topics can be a lot to tackle. Is there a good place to start? 07:35 The pandemic was a door opener for the conversation about mental health. So, what's next? Where do we do from here? 09:42 What are some of the taboos not yet on our radars? And will anything be off limits in the future? 15:26 Thinking about our new hybrid world of work, are there stigmas that could be exacerbated? 18:15 What conversations have clients been having about the hybrid workplace? 19:15 What are our audiences telling us about workplace taboos? How do we make D&I more relevent to the reluctant? 20:40 A candid conversation with Alastair Atkinson, discussing his experiences with mental health, and reflections on what employers can do to support their people.
May 6, 2021
The quiet captain
Think about a leader you know and what springs to mind: leadership or loudership? Fortune favours the brave and, in our age of influence, the person who shouts the loudest is often the one who gets listened to. After all, building a personal brand comes with certain expectations that a leader should be loud, proud and physically visible. But in 2020, those who thrive on communicating to crowded rooms had to step back behind the screen. It became clear just how little good leadership has to do with making a speech, and how much it has to do with making a mark. So, what does leadership look like now? As we face into a hybrid world of work, what will we want from the people in charge? And, after a year of digital democratisation, will we look to new voices to lead the way? Senior consultant Steph Finn chose this theme as her World Changer for our 2021 report. In this epiode, Elle Bradley-Cox joins Steph and scarlettabbott managing director Jeremy Petty for a candit conversation about leadership over the last 12 months.  Elle also grabs some time with quiet leader coach Iain Wilkie to get his views on supporting quieter voices in the workplace.
April 6, 2021
Information NOW
Time stamped videos, estimated reading times, those little dots that show how many images are left to scroll through. It’s all about managing our expectations around time and effort. This is where our ‘busy, busy, busy’ culture has brought us. And if it’s happening in our leisure time, you can bet it’s happening even more at work, where people, projects and pressures relentlessly compete for our consciousness and it can be a noisy place online. How can you prioritise information if everything’s important? Host Elle Bradley-Cox talked with head of creative Craig Bentley and senier writer Patrick Halkett about how we share information now. Elle is also joined by special guest Professor Paul Wells, a director of the Animation Academy and internationally established screenwriter, about how our own story arc is changing the media we consume. To read the full World Changers report, go to *** Skip to a section 0:00 Introduction to the session 1:38 Elle, Craig and Patrick discuss changing media 20:25 Elle chats with Professor Paul Wells
March 1, 2021
Nurture your networks
In the first of our World Changers deep-dives, Elle Bradley-Cox explores 'Nurture your networks'.  Elle joins topic author Tony Stewart (head of digital) and Jacey Lamerton (senior writer), to look at the impact community networks had in 2020 and whether these channels will thrive or become a wild, wild west in the year ahead, covering: What is the online networks landscape like right now?  What typical pitfalls do internal comms teams face when launching or maintaining online communities? Let’s talk about citizen journalism and self-initiated content – how can we balance freedom with structure? How about writing for online? How can we crowdsource and tap into the very best of the online world? What excites you about online communities in 2021? And is there anything concerning to consider? Guest interview Elle also speaks with Kate Forgione, CEO of Customer Success Network. A former Yammer and Microsoft employee, Kate is a passionate advocate for community centric technology. She shares her advice for building a solid business case for the community manager in your internal comms team. *** To read the full World Changers report, go to *** Skip to a section 0:00 Introduction to the session 1:15 Elle, Tony and Jacey talk community networks 31:25 Elle chats with Kate Forgione, CEO of Customer Success Network
February 1, 2021
Welcome to World Changers.
A taste of what's to come.  Alongside the release our 2021 report, we're excited to launch World Changers - The Podcast. Each month, we'll be taking a deeper look at the trends shifting and evolving our world of work, featuring interviews with key experts.  Join our host Elle Bradley-Cox as she takes us on this year's World Changers journey. And don't forget to explore the interactive World Changers 2021 report at
January 20, 2021