Bjorn Reynolds of Safeguard Global on how employers and employees are reworking work together
When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.
As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Bjorn Reynolds.
As the Founder and CEO (or as we affectionately call him, Chief Guardian) of Safeguard Global, Bjorn is the driving force behind our company’s vision, strategy and culture. His commitment to excellent service and the success of our clients and Guardians is inspirational and of paramount importance to him personally. Bjorn has been recognized in Payroll World’s Top 50 and by Workforce magazine as a “Game Changer,” and he has been nominated as EY’s “Entrepreneur of the Year.”
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Act fast in breaking the mold you built as the “way to do business.”
It’s the only way to create change right now, and I think as we move into the future, every organization has to be willing to adapt and be flexible. Otherwise, you lose your customers and your employees.
There are a lot of ways this will manifest. I talk to other leaders about what is keeping them from breaking the mold and rethinking the way they operate. And more often than not, it’s about issues of comfort around accountability. The truth is, seeing your people every day isn’t making them more accountable or productive. Measuring them against clear objectives and understanding how they are performing against them is a better measure of both. Developing a culture of transparency can provide the motivation for your teams to hold themselves accountable for their objectives pretty quickly.
However, it means breaking the mold of “it’s always been done like that”, which we should be breaking anyway to create innovative solutions for our clients.
What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?
This is something we are thinking a lot about — as you know, this past year has seen a lot of change for employers and their employees. Really, it was a fast-tracking of what was already coming: remote work and finding ways to support a fully distributed workforce. And it worked!
What this proved to all of us is that it’s possible to work fully remote for many, but also that the tools exist to increase the flexibility around our work environments. While the ability to go fully remote worked out, the need to accomplish this exposed some challenges and made clear there needs to be more balance in people’s lives and that they are going to demand flexibility in their workspaces to accomplish that.
When we talk about “flexibility”, it’s more than just remote, it’s a new future of work. At Safeguard Global, we call it Work in Any Way. It’s all about the reality that employers and employees are going to have to collaborate a lot more to build work relationships and environments that work for everyone.
Fortunately for employers, employees are making their expectations clear. The first part of the strategy is that we as employers need to listen and put in the resources to build work environments that can remain flexible and agile enough to support what our talent really wants. Examples could be the ability to work asynchronous schedules, to be a digital nomad, to adjust pay frequency, or even to change worker classification.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
The future of work can be summed up in one word: flexible.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was steady growth in remote work. Yet this experiment — to borrow your word — proved out the hypothesis that the traditional work model wasn’t the only way for businesses and employees to work successfully. At the same time, people had experiences that broke the idea of “work / life balance.” Instead, people realized they need an integration of their work and personal lives in order for them to be fulfilled.
As a result, we’re entering a new idea of the workspace. It’s changed due to a change in the worker and employer dynamic. And it’s not going to revert back. The “future of work” itself has changed, and we’re looking at a version that offers the worker a lot more power.
Work in Any Way is our recognition that in order to build the best work experience for everyone, it’s going to need to be rooted in flexibility. For employees, this new future of work means asking questions like “can I get on a different pay cycle that better serves my lifestyle?” or “can I get my pay in different currencies while I live abroad?” Or they might ask “how can I work asynchronously to accommodate my family commitments?” or “how can I leverage worker classification to best suit the needs of the projects and work I want to take on?” As people continue to be more selective about their work experience and share their wants and needs, their influence on what employers need to consider will continue to expand. Employers are going to need to be flexible and open to considering ideas like these in order to recruit and retain the best talent.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
Honestly, the fact that we took part in an experiment that turned the future of work into the present of work. And now there’s a new future of work to build toward...
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