A few weeks ago, we organized Tomorrow Works, our first event in partnership with Lion and OuiShare. We had the pleasure to take a deep dive into the future of work with 3 themes, 7 speakers, a round-table and 40+ guests.

The purpose of this event was to invite experts and confront perspectives around the (near) future of work and the best practices by pioneering companies. Lots of insights and actionable ideas were shared throughout the morning on the thematics of agility, remote work, and freelancing.

Here are the 10 key learnings highlighted during this awesome morning.

Also watch the entire event here.

AGILITY

1. BIG INDUSTRIES HAVE STARTED TO EMBRACE AGILITY

We had the pleasure to have Alain Delprat onstage. As a Project Director at Renault Digital, he introduced us the innovation branch of the famous French car company. From 10 people in February 2017 to 300 today, the industrial venture has had an impressive growth. Within 9 months, the branch released 22 products aimed at 15,000 users at Renault and 250,000 outside the company.

Renault Digital’s secret sauce? Agility first.
→ leadership based on expertise (helped by agile coaches)
→ flat organization (no middle management)
→ fast pace of decision-making (weekly)
→ cultural mixing (50% from Renault; 50% from outside)
→ collaboration with freelancers (mostly from comet).

“We wanted to work with the best, so we teamed up with freelancers.”
Alain Delprat, Innovation Projects Director @ Renault Digital

Alain Delprat speaking about why they choose to work with freelancers

2. THE MAIN OBSTACLES TO AGILITY ARE CULTURAL

“We need to switch from a culture based on control to a culture based on trust.”
Marguerite Grandjean, Director of Studies @ OuiShare

This is even truer in France, where trivial things such as staying up late at work are controlled and appreciated by middle management. During the panel discussion, everyone agreed on the fact that trust between collaborators is an absolute prerequisite within an agile company. Hence the emergence of flat organizations with autonomy privileged over hierarchy.

The consequence of corporate culture is that management needs to evolve. Leading software companies such as Spotify rely on transversal teams called “squads” and agile coaches to release functional new features and quickly iterate. Tech companies have mastered agility principles to climb to the top, then why not inspiring from them?

3. AGILITY REQUIRES INVOLVING ALL YOUR COLLABORATORS

Traditional management based on hierarchy and control is a factor of disengagement for employees. Decision-making centralization and middle manager’s incapacity to involve all collaborators result in the misconception of change, lack of autonomy and feeling of solitude for the latter. According to Alexandra Cauchard, founder of Shaker, the key to agility is co-creation.

Co-creation implies that all the collaborators are involved in driving a company forward agility. It has the potential to reverse the aforementioned negative effects of obsolete management methods. The change will be more easily understood by collaborators since they have been involved in its implementation. Solitude is being replaced by the sense of belonging to a community. Innovation is not concentrated in the hands of a few decision-makers anymore. Yet, these agile methods are often underrepresented among big companies.

“Agility relies on co-creation regarding transformation, innovation and decision-making with everyone involved within a company.”
Alexandra Cauchard, founder of Shaker

Alexandra Cauchard Speaking about how agility relies on co-creation

REMOTE WORK

4. THE FIRST VIRTUE OF REMOTE WORK: QUALITY OF LIFE

“A friend of mine works three weeks per month from his home in the South of France, and one week per month at his company’s office in Paris. Remote work accompanies people’s personal projects and life changes while guaranteeing motivation and productivity.”
Rodolphe Dutel, founder of Remotive, ex-Director of Operations @ Buffer

Remote work is both an aspiration for employees and a source of fear for managers. According to Rodolphe Dutel, founder of Remotive.io and former Director of Operations at Buffer, remote work is the most concrete example of mutual trust between an employer and his collaborators. Because it is all about accompanying life changes such as parenting, moving out or adopting a nomad lifestyle, by giving your employees the opportunity to work remotely (partially or full-time).

The first impact of remote work is on the quality of life. This results in increasing the motivation and then the productivity of a collaborator. Some of the most fast-growing companies such as Buffer function with entirely distributed teams composed of remote employees all across the world.

5. REMOTE WORK RELIES ON RESULT-ORIENTED MANAGEMENT

Remote work empowers employees in the way that they are free to optimize their workload and productivity. Any activity can be separated into two phases: gathering for decision-taking and then isolating for execution. To this extent, remote work enables collaborators to choose the best conditions for their productivity while taking full advantage of collaboration tools to communicate with their team. The only two things that matters are performance and results.

“Remote work enables employees to deep dive into a specific subject during hours without being interrupted.”
Rodolphe Dutel, founder of Remotive, ex-Director of Operations @ Buffer

6. REMOTE WORK DOES NOT FIT EVERYONE

Nicholas Bloom, a professor at Stanford University, has conducted a study on the effect of remote applied to the employees of a call-center in China. It has shown that the employees who worked remotely during the experiment felt more engaged and more productive overall. But it has also indicated that not everyone aspires to work remotely. Some people feel the need to work close to their collaborators while others perform better when isolated. Personalities, positions, and work habits are the decisive criteria that make a difference in their personal preferences.

“Remote work at Société Générale has started as an experimentation on 2000 employees and has resulted in an agreement enabling up to two days working remotely per week for an employee.”
Johann Ghilini, HR Partner @ Société Générale.

FREELANCING

7. DIFFERENT TYPES OF FREELANCERS

In France, there are 2,7m freelancers (that is, 10% of the active population). Alexandra Cauchard has identified 3 different motivations that convince people to become freelancers:
→ by necessity (as often seen in the gig economy)
→ as a transition (preparing a career move, building a portfolio)
→ as a lifestyle (moving out, parenting, traveling)

Also, it is important to draw the line between full-time freelancers and workers with several jobs, often including freelancing as a side activity. These two types of workers have one point in common — freelancing — but they often do not have the same problematics in terms of revenue stability, access to housing, health coverage, etc.

Tomorrow Works public intervention

8. FREELANCERS GROW THEIR INDIVIDUALITY

Freelancers have understood better than anyone the notion of hybridization of work. They have managed to separate the different components of work:
→ Revenue comes from a portfolio of activities and clients ;
→ Structure depends on their work environment (home, coworking, on the road)
→ Social links are facilitated thanks to communities such as Mangrove, Remotive, comet)
→ Self-fulfilment can be obtained by alternating periods of work activity and periods of personal projects

According to Alexandra Cauchard, a common priority for high-potential freelancers is to grow their individuality. For instance, ‘full-stack’ developers are even more sought after since they can work on every part of a web application, from data manipulation to User Experience. This enables them to work on the tech projects they really care about without being limited by their skills.

9. WORKING WITH FREELANCERS: AN INNOVATION LAB FOR COMPANIES

“The best way to work with freelancers is to try.”
Marguerite Grandjean, Director of Studies @ OuiShare

Remote work, design-thinking, scrum framework, open innovation are practices that companies sometimes have trouble adapting. Rather than investing in onerous and theoretical executive training, they should pay more attention to the way freelancers work.

Collaborating with freelancers is the best way to have a closer look at their innovative work methods. In a context where corporate culture matters more than ever, these high performers can help colleagues grow both their mindset and skills set. Working with remote freelancers is also an affordable way to show the benefits of remote work to the middle management. The latter can learn the best practices before testing it with a team and potentially apply it on a larger scale thereafter.

Charles Thomas speaking about why freelancers represent the future of work

10. SKILLS OBSOLESCENCE IS A BIG DEAL FOR FREELANCERS

“There is a real waste of talents today. Many employees want to learn more, get more involved, but they don’t get the opportunity to express: managers simply ignore them.”
Olivier Leclerc, founder of Les Hacktivateurs

Freelancers’ activity entirely depends on their skill set, on top of having a job that is not protected by an employment contract. They are therefore more exposed to skills obsolescence, hence the necessity of continuous learning.

This is precisely why freelancers are rightfully compared to entrepreneurs. They are aware that they can only count on themselves, especially in a fast-paced technological environment. At a time when disruption and obsolescence are everywhere, companies should not only cooperate with them: they should definitely be inspired by them.

Special thanks to

Our dear speakers Alain Delprat, Marguerite Grandjean, Alexandra Cauchard, Johann Ghilini, Olivier Leclerc, Rodolphe Dutel.

Our awesome partners Lion and Ouishare for their precious help.

We owe you all the success of this first edition of Tomorrow Works. Keep rocking!

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