Curium Event Series: The Future Of Work

Jodie | 20 Jun 2024 | News | Transformation

As consultants, we thrive on providing answers to our clients’ problems. But it’s also our role to ask the right questions too. We recognise that, in a world where change feels like it’s running at breakneck speed, finding time to think deeply can feel like a luxury people can’t afford.

We also know creating spaces for conversations, igniting curiosity, and listening to different perspectives can be incredibly valuable and insightful. So when embarking on The Future of Work roundtables in partnership with, we had high expectations. The good news is we weren’t disappointed – but we were often surprised by the conversations.

It was not a surprise that business leaders in different sectors are wrestling with lots of the same issues, or that the role of technology is a common board topic. But we were pleasantly surprised that people are still at the heart of almost all business discussions, driving choices and shaping outcomes. In a future which is often hyped to belong to the machines, our conversations demonstrated that people, culture and strong leadership are still seen as key and at the heart of business.

There is no doubt the Future of Work has many challenges, things to consider and plenty of unknowns. But the feedback from our business leaders shows that talking about the challenges and sharing ideas, the future seems in pretty good shape!

Enjoy reading.

Tracy Westall, Non- Executive Curium Board Member 


Managers deal with the present. Leaders deal with the future.

But at a time when the only certainty seems to be continuing uncertainty, how is that achieved? Curium Solutions and brought together 50 business leaders at round tables in key regional cities to share their perspectives on what’s next for the working world.

This is what they thought.


Remote v office; 9 to 5 v asynchronous working; geographic talent pools v global. We are still in the early period of what the future of work looks like in the wake of the seismic shock of the pandemic. There is a huge variety in approach, even in companies operating in the same sector and region, or that appear to look and act the same from the outside.

There is unlikely to be a single, “right” answer, but in time there will be a consensus – and that consensus will be driven by two factors: results (what works for the business) and retention (what works for the high-performing individuals and teams).

But for now there is no rulebook, no status quo or accepted wisdom. Embracing this tension is a key
job for leaders. The office was, for so many people, the constant in their daily routine until the pandemic up-ended how people thought about their job. The “9 to 5” was ripped up and although it has been largely pieced back together, it doesn’t look the same.

Clusters of collaboration

The office is now primarily a place of collaboration. Professional services firms and other people-centric businesses have set the pace in physically reshaping their working environment to provide the hubs and pods to bring people and ideas together.

To meet with purpose, to invest in teams, to build social capital. To plug teams in and recharge. Employers now have to show they are adding value. They must make the office experience a positive one, to make it worthwhile to battle the commute. It needs to enable touchpoints for teams, help foster a sense of corporate community and provide an opportunity to build culture.

Amenities help, and there has been significant time and investment put into rethinking office space to cater to both the needs and wishes of workers. Wellness is now central to the planning, not a fringe add-on. For many organisations, the changes have resulted in the completion of the overdue democratisation of the office.

The trend for open plan offices that was symbolic of less hierarchical and status-driven has been further accelerated and is (memorably, when one global professional services firm moved to a hot-desking approach in its new regional city office, one older partner was heard to ask “I know it’s all hot-desking, but where do the partners sit?”).
Flexible workspaces also serve the needs of different workers, as well as different purposes.

The rise of the neuro-diverse worker (or, more accurately, the rise in the awareness of and willingness to adapt their needs) means more people can work in an environment that best suits them, and allows them to thrive. “The mistake is to think we can do exactly the same things we did in an of ice but sat behind a computer screen”

But there is an acknowledgement by many that remote working cannot be a straight replacement for working in an office. Many tasks can be accomplished in the same way, but it requires leaders to be alert to those that can’t. Important interactions, from development opportunities through to difficult conversations, often benefit from being in person. And the agglomeration effect, so often attributed to cities, applies just as meaningfully to offices. The pace of action, the wisdom of crowds, the innovations and creativity – the multiplier effects that create opportunities and growth.


One of the most famous calls to civic-minded action and the greater good was by John F Kennedy when he rallied Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”. Replace country with company and that has been the accepted wisdom on how to get on at work. But the employer-employee relationship has not just been rebalanced, in many cases it has flipped.

The candidate is interviewing the company – “persuade  me why I should work here” – and once on board the
approach is maintained. One participant, who labelled themselves as “the Gen Z representative around the table”, described their mindset as “what are you going to do for me?”. This exemplifies how recruitment and retention strategies have to be overhauled.

“Benefits” are not just salary and holidays, but can now also include a wide package of development opportunities, wellbeing initiatives, flexibility to work when and where they prefer. The new workplace contract, which weakens the company’s authority over the knowledge worker, also helps to create an impatience among junior staff.

for the full report

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