The Network & The Future of Work:
A Trillion Dollar Opportunity for Carriers
For hundreds of years, the office has been the center of work. But over the next decade, carriers face an unprecedented opportunity to shift the center of work – and corporate investment with it – from commercial real estate to the network. It’s worth trillions of dollars, but requires new thinking about the ‘future of work.’
Join Aurea CEO Scott Brighton as he shares his insights on this new vision and the generational opportunity this transformation represents for the telecom industry.
TL:DW | Skip to the transcript for these discussion points.
- Whose responsibility is it to define the future?
- Other industries as inspiration
- Obsolete ideas that should be laid to rest
- Lessons in managing customers and teams through change
- Roadmap for the next five years
- Standout examples in the telco sector
- The one message to take away
At the beginning of your presentation, you mentioned that the future has not been fully defined yet. Whose responsibility is it to define the future?
I believe it’s a collective responsibility. HR leaders of many companies are struggling with the uncertainty of the future. Some companies have fully embraced remote work while others have completely rejected it. However, the majority are trying to figure out hybrid work. But this introduces implications such as creating an uneven playing field where people in the office have better access to people and information compared to those who work remotely. The goal is to eliminate this uneven playing field, and that’s what we’re trying to work towards.
Are there any industries that have already undergone rapid change in terms of embracing the future of work that could serve as inspiration for other industries?
Yes, it varies by vertical market. Technology companies, for example, have generally been comfortable with remote work and there are many that are 100% remote. However, industries like investment banking have been less comfortable with remote work as they see a big part of their culture, mentoring, and information sharing as being done in person. It’s hard to identify a specific leader in this regard, as there are various models that will be tested over the next few years. Hopefully, a leader will emerge in due course.
In the context of the future of work, which old ideas do you think should be laid to rest as they have become obsolete?
A: One idea that has become increasingly clear is that individual work, such as working on a paper or a spreadsheet, can be done effectively from home with the help of modern technology. In fact, it may even be more productive as there are fewer distractions. However, the gap lies in the lack of human connection that comes with remote work, and that is what we need to address in moving forward.
As a leader yourself, what have you learned from the challenges you faced in managing teams and customers through change?
As a company that was already 100% remote before the pandemic, the operational impact was minimal, but we had to support our customers through the transition to remote work. We had to change the way we interacted with them and provide education to help them adapt. Our customers were also dealing with issues such as fraying connections, lack of interaction, mental health issues, loneliness, and zoom fatigue. As a leader, I learned the importance of addressing these issues and providing support to both teams and customers through times of change.
Looking to the future, what is the roadmap for the next five years as you see it?
I believe the roadmap for the next five years involves a lot of experimentation with different work models and new technologies to support them. It’s an exciting time because we don’t know exactly how it will all play out. The promise of this future is amazing – the ability to hire the best talent from around the world without being constrained by physical geography opens up tremendous opportunities for global employment and economic development. I’m super excited to see how it all this plays out.
It’s interesting that you mentioned the thing about talent because that’s another really important factor that has changed in the last 18 months, but arguably for the better because, as you said, there are no boundaries anymore to access these talent pools. We don’t need geography when we’re working remotely.
When I changed jobs a decade or more ago, someone had to buy my house. Maybe the company was going to buy my house. I put myself in a moving van and had to go, right? It was just a huge economic friction and a significant life change to be able to change jobs. Now, when you hire somebody, boom! Here are their credentials, they’re online, and we’re ready to go, wherever they are.
We’re in the early stages of the seismic shifts like you mentioned, but even at this point, do you think there are any standout examples in the telco sector that we could learn from?
Of the telecom carriers that I’ve been working with, I think one of the most forward-thinking has been Deutsche Telecom. They are embracing a hybrid work model but recognize that they will be losing in-person collaboration and connection. We are working with them as one of our partners to help define the capabilities needed to create that connection. It’s not just about walking the halls, it’s about creating spontaneous interactions. For example, they are considering employee virtual meet and greet where random employees can have spontaneous conversations. I’ve been very impressed with their HR leadership on this issue.
What is the one message you want our audience, both physical and virtual, to take away from your keynote?
There’s a huge opportunity for telecom carriers to create a virtual work environment that is as good as being in the office. This opportunity is generational and measured in trillions of dollars. It will only happen if we can create a virtual work environment that people feel comfortable with. If we can do that together, it will be enormous and transformational for the world.