Kate Clifford, Accenture North America

Kate Clifford

The Future of Work

What are your views on the future of work, and what will the office of the future look like?

There is truly no one-size-fits-all or even a one-size-fits-many definition of the future of work anymore. At Accenture, we are deliberate in choosing to expand our focus beyond spaces and places  – where people will work and how many days they will be onsite – because we believe the opportunity lies in reimagined experiences.

At Accenture, we’re omni-connected, meaning we use technology and human ingenuity to make sure we are seen, can fully contribute and have equal quality of experience. This comes from the digital tools we use, our physical locations, our behaviors and the culture we create. Also, omni-connected isn’t about always being “on” – quite the opposite. With omni-connection, human relationships are strong and people can more easily step away from work to disconnect in a good way – to recharge and remain creative and productive.

How can companies maintain culture and a collaborative environment in a remote work structure?

Creating human connections is key. One might think a quick fix is simply to bring everyone back to work onsite and human connection will happen. But it’s not that simple. Our Accenture research found that while our devices might always be on, only 1 in 6 people feel highly connected – in a human sense – at work. Not just connected to the organization, but to the people they work for and with. Why? They lacked flexibility and the tools to be most productive and connected, and they experienced a greater sense of inequity.

Space and place are not what create culture. It’s people and leadership and focusing on how people are better off as a result of choosing to work at that organization. It’s about being deliberate about how you lead.

As an HR leader, is it necessary for employees to be in the office to build employee engagement?

When it comes to in-person connections, it is no longer about who comes into the office, but why our people come into the office – and how we earn their commute. For example, it’s a team collaborating on how to deliver value for our clients or a client innovation workshop, likely colleagues gathering for a celebration that matters. We’re also creating what we call stacked experiences, for example – First Fridays in our US South region. It’s the first Friday of the month when we host a variety of events people can participate in – like a community service project, hearing a guest speaker, joining an ERG event – and plan in-person team time to coincide if that makes sense for them. Being in the office just to be in the office holds no meaning at Accenture. It’s about being there for a purpose.