What does modern work look like?

Essentials:

A fair wage. Money is important to everyone. It makes a difference to commitment to a job. When it starts becoming excessive is when greed kicks in. Fortunately, or not, the vast majority of us will always have just enough.

A safe working environment. No one wants the prospect of death when they leave home and going to work. There are jobs where death is a high risk. Building sites, oil rigs, the army, they are places that if you’re going to die, it’s an occupational hazard. An office block though? Never. The worst that is likely to happen is you break a bone or get a minor burn. Keep people safe, eh.

Keep people’s dignity. No one should be subject to any kind of abuse or harassment. Not because of any legislation but because no one deserves to be treated in any condescending way. When we are respected and accepted for who we are is when we will offer our best. Get rid of those who don’t buy into this.

The right IT systems. Since modern technology has made PCs and laptops par for the norm, it also means having the right programmes and systems is necessary. Add to that that people have their own preferences for IT working, and suddenly it’s a whole industry. Most small businesses have no or very minimal IT policies. Most medium to large businesses have IT policies that make you want to take the machine and throw it out the window.

Give people leave when they need it. It’s debatable about if you give them set leave or unlimited leave. Either way, people can’t be their best if they don’t take a break. We all need time off and away from routine in order to get back on the treadmill.

Give useful feedback. No ranting, no moaning, no shouting, but useful feedback. If people understand what they’re doing well and what they’re not, they can be better. Be genuinely kind when you do this.

Optional Extras:

Do social media. At least don’t baulk at people who do. If they use it to help spread the message and brand of your organisation, that’s only a good thing. If you’re afraid of what they might say, either you run a shoddy shop or you’ve hired the wrong people.

(I debated including this as essential. It’s not).

Offer learning and development. At work everyone wants to feel valued and invested in. They want to feel like they’re developing and being a useful member of the team. These days there are many options for personal development and only some of those require money for them to happen. You can let people have time off to get better. Your business won’t suffer. It’ll be made stronger because they’ll feel committed to showing how important it is for them.

Offer benefits. If you do or don’t, most people will find their own. If you can, offer things of value. Reduced gym membership is valuable. Free massages are not.

Out there ideas:

Give people free food at your place of work.

Allow them to work from home.

Pay a fair bonus to everyone.

Have a company party.

Pay for people’s dry cleaning.

* * * * *

As I’ve been writing the above, it doesn’t feel very modern and it doesn’t feel progressive. Either that’s reality, or I’m not seeing what modern really is, or I haven’t been pushing the modern agenda enough,  or modern is a useless concept.

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Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

3 thoughts on “What does modern work look like?”

  1. Sukh, you are right. This isn’t a progressive list. We shouldn’t say that this is progress or modern in 2025. However, for some organisations and employees, it would still be a dream! Many go without what is on this list of what should be basic requirements.

    Your point about social media struck a chord with me. Too many people with social, and other things, just line up to moan about it and criticise those who do. Don’t like Yammer? Fine. Don’t go on it then. Simples.

    Everyone should have the right to the stuff on this list. A fair wage and some security about what you are going to earn isn’t much to ask, but more than some get. Take the zero hours contract debate. For some, flexibility that works for them. For others, all they can get and they have no idea whether they are going to earn this week or not.

    For all the future of work debate and the fancy concepts thrown around in the blogging and conference world, better working lives for me means simply some of this stuff, and some even more basic stuff too.

    Nicely put.

  2. Great post. I’d add one more to this. Help people feel connected to what the organisation is there to do, how it’s progressing and how people are contributing to its goals. We all need to feel we belong to something bigger than us and work can/ should (?) provide this. You may not feel that’s a necessity… to me, it’s much more important than any of the extras.

  3. Great post Sukh. Am I allowed to propose one more? (I’m going to anyway):

    Treat people like human beings. Not human resources. Not (please, PLEASE not) human capital.

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