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Book Summary: How the Future Works – Leading Flexible Teams To Do The Best Work of Their Lives

How the Future Works (2022) provides a blueprint that company leaders can use to implement flexible work policies. It offers a step-by-step guide detailing how to manage this transition effectively so that organizations can benefit from this new way of working.


The COVID pandemic’s lockdowns compromised companies globally. The world of business had to continue, so people began to work from home and set their own schedules. Employees loved these new arrangements. Remote work became many people’s preference, and teams began to function as remote or hybrid collectives. An ad hoc solution that began as a response to an emergency is now how business gets done. Brian Elliott, Sheela Subramanian and Helen Kupp explore how companies can manage this new world of work with flexibility and effectiveness. They advocate continuing collaboration between employers and employees post pandemic, and show how flexible teamwork can prevail.

Book Summary: How the Future Works - Leading Flexible Teams To Do The Best Work of Their Lives


  • Traditional office work is obsolete.
  • Former measures of productivity are no longer effective – and never worked well anyway.
  • Follow seven steps to retrofit your company for the new future of work.
  • 1. Operate according to a firm set of principles.
  • 2. Establish behavioral guidelines to ensure maximum flexibility for employees.
  • 3. Don’t dictate flexible work policies to your employees. Secure their agreement as you develop policies.
  • 4. Experiment with flexible scheduling to find a solution that works for your company.
  • 5. Create virtual connection cultures employees will love.
  • 6. Improve your skills to manage effectively in a virtual work environment.
  • 7. Avoid the “doom loop” and adopt the “boom loop.”
  • Monitor your employees’ work progress, not their work activities.
  • Employees want and need flexibility.

Introduction: Maximize the benefits of flexible work policies by learning to implement them effectively.

COVID-19 revolutionized many organizations by forcing employees to work from home. And much to everyone‘s surprise, productivity improved, challenging old beliefs about what employees need to thrive.

Now that it’s safe to return to the workplace, many organizations want to make flexible work strategies permanent. But how do leaders do so effectively and transition their former systems to this new operating style to reap its benefits?

In this summary, you’ll learn a seven-step framework to implement a flexible work strategy in your organization, giving your employees choice about when and how they work. This doesn’t mean they‘ll have total freedom or no accountability. It means striking a balance between autonomy and company guidelines in a way that optimizes individual performance by making space for personal and professional needs.

So, let’s discover how you can carry your organization into the new era.

Step 1: Identify principles that will guide your flexible work strategy

In June 2021, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a new company policy. It required employees to work from the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, giving them the option to work from home the other two days. The backlash was swift – many valued and talented employees resigned immediately.

It was quickly clear that Cook had made a fundamental error. He’d believed that flexible work meant letting employees work from home on days of his choosing. But coming into the office on those days wasn’t going to work for many individuals. They wanted choice about when they were on-site and were prepared to find employment elsewhere if Apple didn’t offer it.

Effective flexible work strategies aren’t underpinned by a one-size-fits-all policy that comes from the top down. This is especially true for complex, global companies whose employees perform diverse roles. So if a series of rules like Cook’s doesn’t determine flexible work practices, what does?

The answer is a series of principles.

To effectively implement a flexible work strategy, you and your fellow leaders need to identify why you’re introducing this new policy. Is it to attract or retain talent, become more agile, shift from a physical to a digital HQ? Your why will create an objective which will form the basis of your core principles.

Once you’re clear on your why, you can formulate three-to-five principles that evoke a sense of what your new work model will look like. These principles shouldn’t contain tactical targets, like minimum on-site hours. Instead, they should identify the mindset that leaders and management need to adopt to support this organization-wide change.

For instance, the Royal Bank of Canada’s set of principles includes a statement that proximity is still important. This identifies that the bank values bringing all employees together regularly. But, by not stipulating how regular – as Cook did – managers have the scope to negotiate this with their teams in a way that supports individual and team outputs.

Step 2: Establish guardrails to create behavioral expectations

Imagine you’re an executive calling into a meeting remotely, only to find that all the senior executives appear on one screen from the board room at HQ. This signals that you should really be on-site, even if your company’s flexible work policy says otherwise. It’s behaviors like these that sabotage messaging about equality in a flexible work model.

If you want to implement a flexible work policy effectively, it’s crucial that there are clear expectations about behavior – including that of your senior executives. These expectations act as guardrails that help everyone live the principles you’ve established in Step 1. Guardrails ensure your new policy is executed meaningfully. Remember, there’s a reason you’ve introduced this policy – the why you identified earlier.

In addition to this, guardrails protect career progression from being impacted negatively by flexible work models. In 2014, Nicholas Bloom at Stanford University found that employees who work from home are 50 percent less likely to be promoted, even if their performance is equal to – or better than – that of their colleagues.

To level the playing field, listen to the concerns your employees have – such as lack of visibility for those calling into video conferences. To counter this, you might introduce a rule that everyone must call into the conference individually, even if they’re on-site. That way, each person has equal visibility and you overcome the feeling that offsite employees are second-class citizens.

Ensure that all your leaders are role-modeling your flexible work principles and honoring guardrails. This will empower employees to adopt your new framework. You might even introduce guardrails specifically for executives like software engineering company Atlassian has done. Its executives are only allowed to work on-site one day a week and hold in-person meetings once a quarter. This sends a clear message to everyone that flexible work is the new norm.

Step 3: Ask each team to develop a work practices plan

When a CEO dictates how flexible work plans operate – like Tim Cook did at Apple – they assume that everyone in their company has identical needs and that their work practices can be optimized uniformly. But we all know this isn’t the case.

The needs of a sales team are wildly different from those of an engineering department. And that doesn’t even account for differences in personality. An introvert might need a quiet, private space to do their best work, while an extrovert might excel in a more dynamic environment. And then there are the needs that belong to our personal lives – caring for others, maintaining our fitness and health, and pursuing our hobbies feed our vibrancy and social connections. All these elements mean a blanket policy will never work.

What’s far more effective is for directors to formulate a flexible work model based on their specific teams – one that takes into account outputs and individuals. So how do you do this in a meaningful way that respects the principles established by company leaders but also supports your team members to reach their full potential?

You can achieve this by drawing up a Team-level Agreement – or TLA. This document is a framework that allows team members to put the principles of Step 1 into practice. And like those principles, rather than being a list of rules to follow, TLAs identify the behavioral expectations for everyone in the team. It’s these guidelines that provide team members with both flexibility and structure, which is what the workforce is looking for in a post-pandemic world.

One important role of a TLA is to establish core collaboration hours. These are blocks of three to four hours each workday when the whole team agrees to be online and available to each other. How the remainder of the workday is structured is up to the individual – offering flexibility but also protecting against burnout that can occur when people feel pressured to always be available.

Step 4: Normalize continuous learning

While most of us spent the better part of the pandemic working from home, making flexible work the norm is still new terrain – and one that has many executives nervous.

It’s important to remember that – like anything new – we all need to keep an open mind and experiment with how our new workplaces operate until we can determine best practices for our specific organization.

Rather than taking a punt on whether or not an aspect of your new flexible work strategy will be effective, create a task force of knowledge gatherers. This task force should be made up of diverse employees with differing needs and points of view. They must be flexible work advocates, dedicated to smoothing the transition for others and not afraid to ask hard questions.

The purpose of this task force is to test out potential new ways of working, to see if they’re worth rolling out company-wide. If your task force represents all the sectors in your organization, you’ll end up with a solid idea of how new tools will work within different departments. Identifying any pitfalls before a universal rollout mitigates the resistance to change that you’ll inevitably find somewhere among your ranks. Despite compelling evidence that shows flexible work plans lead to increased productivity, many executives still aren’t convinced. They’ll be even less so if your digital tools and infrastructure don’t deliver.

It’s important that this task force is recognized as a crucial element of your change management strategy. Reinforce the importance of this group by asking your senior managers to commit a portion of their time to the task force. For instance, at Slack, department leaders committed a fifth of their time to the task force. This sent a strong message about the important function the task force was performing.

Step 5: Make meaningful digital connection possible

No matter who you are or what you do, connection is a fundamental human need we all share – one that serves an evolutionary purpose to keep our species alive and functioning.

Many executives have concerns that flexible work models will erode an employee’s sense of connection and that innovation and collaboration will suffer as a result. But this begs the question: When it comes to creating connection, is meeting in person crucial?

Interestingly, during the pandemic, Slack’s research consortium – Future Forum – found that connection between employees increased by 36 percent when they were working remotely. In addition to that, creativity wasn’t impacted regardless of where people worked – whether in the office, at home, or a mix of both.

This research shows that connection is more than possible in a flexible work environment. You just need to invest in properly supported digital tools to facilitate that connection. Here are three ways you can do that.

First, make digital channels the primary location for communications, from vision and mission statements to newsletters and announcements. And ensure that each team and project has its own digital home, where people can collaborate, share, and access resources. This might be documents on a shared drive or a hub on your intranet.

Second, foster a sense of community by establishing digital social spaces. Set up channels where people can share photos of their kids and pets, or chat about their hobbies or interests – aspects of life outside work that nurture community and connection.

Finally, establish online employee resource groups for people who belong to particular communities, such as the LGBTQAI+ community, abilities-based groups, and people who share a culture or identity. Creating a digital space for these communities allows their members to come together, find support, and share.

Embracing digital spaces in this way might even change how you use your physical headquarters. Perhaps it’s time to do away with those cubicles and open up your office spaces to increase chance encounters across sectors and levels of seniority.

Step 6: Upskill your managers for your new workplace

Prior to the pandemic, managers mainly served as “gatekeepers,” ensuring that their teams delivered on targets and monitoring productivity using metrics like hours spent at the desk. But this approach to management isn’t possible in a flexible work environment because micromanaging and in-person supervision aren’t possible.

This means that the role of managers needs an overhaul so that it still has value in a flexible workplace. The manager must leave their gatekeeping days behind and become an empathetic coach.

Being an empathetic coach involves three core roles:

First and foremost, a manager must foster trust by being transparent about the team’s goals, expectations, and performance indicators. Second, they must offer clarity around individuals’ roles and responsibilities, so that each team member understands how they’re contributing to achieving those goals. Finally, the manager must help each employee unlock their potential. That way, the organization will get the best out of everyone, while creating scope for individuals to excel and progress their careers.

So, how do you transition your managers to this new leadership style?

Start by investing in coaching. Ideally, every manager should have a coach all the time – not just when they’re dealing with a crisis or are at risk of losing their job.

Then, implement a system of structured feedback by allocating an accountability partner to every manager. These manager pairs can give each other regular feedback, to help them both stay on track, while also sharing insights and potential solutions. This system has the added bonus of making managers feel less isolated, which is a common occurrence under the old management model.

Be sure to celebrate managerial successes at company events too. This sends the message that your organization values the new model of management and appreciates the efforts managers are making.

Step 7: Change how you evaluate success

Transitioning your managers from gatekeepers to empathetic coaches causes another need for change: the metrics you use to measure success. If you’re no longer using hours logged or physical presence in the office as a way of evaluating performance, how will you know that your employees are actually being productive and not watching TV or cat memes?

Take a moment here to think back to your company’s most recent annual report. In the “achievements” section, did you celebrate the collective number of hours everyone worked or did you highlight outcomes – like a new product being launched or a research breakthrough? So, if we’re using company outputs to evaluate organizational success, why aren’t we doing the same with our employees?

In a flexible work environment, measuring outcomes needs to be the metric for performance, not activity. Activity-based metrics are prone to sabotaging performance anyway. Say, for instance, a sales team had a quota of making 40 calls to potential clients each week. In order to meet this quota, employee behavior might change. Employees might start to compromise the quality of calls, so they can phone more people. And in the end, they might hit their quota but it won’t increase their client base.

New flexible work metrics provide organizations with the opportunity to value quality over quantity. As a starting point, managers need to identify what outcomes actually matter. This might include employee experiences and not just outputs.

Next, managers need to translate those outcomes into deliverables. Again, while this might be completing a project for a client or resolving customer queries, it should also include deliverables that support employees, like ensuring that everyone’s focused work time was respected.

Finally, clear expectations around timeframes provide another way of measuring success. Implement digital systems that all team members can access, to communicate work progress and status updates. That way, you’ll all be on the same page, even if you’re working different hours offsite.


Traditional office work is obsolete.

Flexible work arrangements allowing employees to work remotely with independent schedules were once a privilege only for top performers – if even for them.Most organizations wanted employees to work in local offices and follow rigid schedules. That’s how things had always been.

“Flexibility is what people want.”

Management thinkers believed office work fostered collaboration and enabled employees to benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience. Wouldn’t productivity, innovation and profits suffer if employees didn’t work together? How could managers supervise workers who didn’t share the same office?

Then, in 2019, COVID-19 changed everything. It quickly shut down offices and millions of employees began to work from home. Did productivity suffer? In fact, the new flexible work model increased productivity. Creativity and innovation flourished

Today, many employees love the independence of working from home. Recruiting has never been easier. For organizations, this means accepting significant change – and it remains unlikely work will ever entirely return to its former format.

Former measures of productivity are no longer effective – and never worked well anyway.

The methods used in the past to measure work productivity were never really effective. Now, due to the novel work arrangements COVID ushered in, those older productivity measures no longer work at all.

For example, supervisors once could stay on top of things by noting how many employees showed up each day. That’s easy when the workforce comes to the same place every day, but impossible when most employees work from home.

“We’re in a very competitive marketplace for talent. If done right, we believe flexibility could be a true differentiator.” (Helena Gottschling, chief HR officer, Royal Bank of Canada)

Managing productivity by “walking around” doesn’t work when one employee is in Indianapolis, another is in Albuquerque and another is on an island somewhere. And, merely seeing your employees show up doesn’t tell you what they’re doing. They could be calling or texting friends, buying something online or engaging in a million other non-work activities. Most employees in most offices do their jobs, but managers still need to know how much they’re doing and how well.

Follow seven steps to retrofit your company for the new future of work.

Many organizations think that flexibility would be ideal, but a full, radical transformation can’t happen unless management takes seven challenging steps.

“The workplace will now be wherever work happens, and the work-week will be whenever work happens best for each person.” (Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox)

Before embarking on this change, company leaders must agree on the course they want to follow. This is a competitive imperative. Firms that won’t or can’t change will get left behind by companies that find innovative ways for their employees to keep working in the manner they prefer.

1. Operate according to a firm set of principles.

Companies need a firm set of flexibility work principles to guide important decisions and actions related to providing maximum employee flexibility. Because workplace flexibility is a relatively new – and often untried – dynamic, finding the best way to implement related practices and processes requires considerable discussion. Your principles should guide these discussions.

“The process of creating your flexible work purpose and principles at the leadership level…is how you will start to gain the understanding and alignment necessary to drive an organization-wide change in how your people work together.”

Providing schedule and location flexibility can become overly complex and have perplexing ramifications. Establishing principles and practices proves useful and efficient. Heed these tips:

  • Make “team-level autonomy” your flexibility watchword – Offer access to a flexible schedule to everyone; try different approaches; and then adapt and learn from your mistakes.
  • Companies can be flexible in different ways – Don’t limit flexibility at your firm to only remote work issues.
  • Don’t implement a one-size-fits-all flexibility plan across your entire organization – The approach that works best in accounting, for example, probably isn’t appropriate for the sales department.
  • Establish and sustain fair collaboration – As appropriate for your workflows and projects, extend collaboration to all employees at all times and everywhere.
  • Employ a “digital-first” mentality – This works for employee flexibility policies as well as other initiatives.
  • Your flexibility imperative has greater goals – Keeping your people happy is crucial, but bear in mind that the right flexible schedule also will boost your bottom line.

2. Establish behavioral guidelines to ensure maximum flexibility for employees.

While core principles are vital t0 maximize worker flexibility, companies must also develop behavioral guidelines for workplace practices, leadership and corporate culture to create an environment in which everyone applies core principles equitably.

“Guardrails…aren’t always easy to make work, especially when they go against ingrained habits.”

For example, Slack has a rule that promotes a “one dials in, all dial in” policy. This means all employees must participate in their teams’ remote meetings, even if they dial in from their desk in a Slack office. Leaders at IBM used social media to promote a list of “work-from-home” (WFH) norms for all employees.

Organizations should avoid “faux flexibility,” such as posting seemingly flexible policies that aren’t really flexible and don’t promote employee autonomy.

3. Don’t dictate flexible work policies to your employees. Secure their agreement as you develop policies.

Organizations should not arbitrarily promulgate top-down flexibility directives, although many do, including Apple and Google.Do not introduce new flexibility procedures by issuing rules, orders or edicts.

“Are there teams within your organization that are already working flexibly and doing it well? …Find out what has worked for them and what hasn’t and pull from them examples that are relevant.”

The concept of ”top-down” has nothing to do with flexibility. Gain input from everyone on your team about which arrangement will work best for each person, and proceed from there. Make sure flexibility arrangements are available for, and created with, the collaboration of both experienced employees and your newer hires.

The best vehicle for flexibility planning is the “team-level agreement” (TLA). This planning document builds trust and provides flexibility by focusing on staying in touch with each team member about “values, schedules and meetings, accountability” and “relationships.

4. Experiment with flexible scheduling to find a solution that works for your company.

Flexibility is new and potentially confusing for many organizations.And, to compound the challenges, there’s no reliable blueprint for introducing flexibility at your firm.

“It takes a mix of a little leap of faith to allow experimentation, executive support to prototype new ways of working, and a willingness to learn your way toward habits and practices that work for your people.”

So, why not experiment? Try various approaches to see what works best. Identify various flexibility challenges, engage in major testing, amass substantial data and gauge your myriad outcomes.

Persist in your experimentation until you discover what works. Don’t expect to uncover any “perfect data point” or “external benchmark” that will demonstrate with 100% certainty that any given arrangement is perfect. Vest in a cheerful trial and error process that includes no mistakes, only options.

5. Create virtual connection cultures employees will love.

Like most commercial giants, the leading technology firms built impressive physical headquarters and sprawling campuses to dazzle the technical geniuses they wanted to hire and to make their employees feel at home and part of an empire.

“If done right, flexible work can provide an opportunity to create a more connected and inclusive culture than ever before.”

Firms can create the most sparkling virtual spaces for themselves that will entice new employees to join their ranks. Handled correctly, your virtual spaces can nourish a connected culture that benefits everyone. Research indicates that numerous benefits derive from feelings of connection, including cognitive enhancement, better physical health and improved emotional well-being.

Despite prevailing (and mistaken) attitudes and beliefs, flexible, virtual work spaces improve employee feelings of “connection and belonging.”

Research indicates that employees who benefit from “time flexibility” experience a strong feeling of belonging and increased job satisfaction. Conventional thinking assumes that people working together spark each other’s creativity. In fact, the spaces in which people work have almost nothing to do with how creative they will be.

6. Improve your skills to manage effectively in a virtual work environment.

The migration of workers from offices to virtual work has revealed weak managers who don’t have the soft skills needed to deal with these changes.

“No one knows anything for sure about what’s coming. Being ready when the big shifts come…involves being able to work successfully in unprecedented situations.” (futurist Alex Steffen)

With this in mind, firms must work to improve their managers’ skills. For example, Slack initiated “Base Camp training” for its managers. Select managers who have strong leadership reputations, have earned impressive retention rates and head teams everyone wants to join.

Today’s ideal managers aren’t gatekeepers or clock-watchers. Instead, they should be coaches who lead their employees with empathy. Top managers create trust, establish clarity and help their employees, in the office or remotely, achieve their potential.

7. Avoid the “doom loop” and adopt the “boom loop.”

Organizations that rely on constant, overt monitoring of their employees fall prey to the “doom loop.” Typical doom loop monitoring is a time waster that checks meaningless boxes, produces pointless metrics, generates employee attrition and diminishes trust.

“ The corporate office was the yardstick. It was face-time, it was your calendar, but even before COVID, that wasn’t sustainable.’ (Atif Rafiq, president, Commercial and Growth, MGM Resorts International).”

Companies should demonstrate their trust in their employees, and not watch them every second. Deal forthrightly with your workers, detailing shared goals and providing the support they need. This is the “boom loop,” the ideal counter to the dreaded doom loop.

Monitor your employees’ work progress, not their work activities.

Instead of monitoring employees’ hours, monitor their progress on measurable goals and definable projects. Companies can use the RACI-matrix system to track the “Responsible” employees who will do specific jobs; the “Accountable” employees who approve their individual work, the employees who must “be Consulted” regarding the work and the employees whom the company must keep “Informed” about a project’s progress.

“While flexibility is not a panacea for all workplace issues, it is a major step in the right direction if done right.”

Constantly surveilling employees lowers morale. No one likes to be watched. Research indicates that “50% of strictly monitored workers” experience notable anxiety compared to only 7% of employees who are not subject to regular monitoring.

Employees want and need flexibility.

Flexible work will prevail as the norm. Employees want and expect flexible schedules, which give your company a strong competitive advantage and boost recruitment. Flexible policies encourage productivity and innovative collaboration, as well as nurturing work-life balance.


Successfully transitioning to flexible work practices requires planning, change management, and a shift in mindset.

Adopting a flexible work strategy isn’t just something that helps employees achieve a healthier work-life balance; it can help your company thrive by attracting talent, increasing productivity, and unlocking potential.

But these aren’t the only benefits. Flexible work plans acknowledge that every employee has unique needs, based on their circumstances, preferences, and personalities. And those needs aren’t a liability, they’re an opportunity to design a work life that honors our humanity and creates a point of deeper connection with those we work alongside.

About the author

BRIAN ELLIOTT is Executive Leader of Future Forum, a consortium backed by Slack and founding partners Boston Consulting Group, MillerKnoll, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow. Future Forum enables leaders to redesign work to be better for people and organizations. He has spent three decades leading teams and building companies as a startup CEO, at Google, and now at Slack where he is a Senior VP. Brian’s a proud father of two young men.

SHEELA SUBRAMANIAN is Vice President and co-founder of Future Forum. She has 20 years of experience building high-growth global teams across Google, Slack, and startup organizations. As a champion for workplace equity, her work is cited in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Fast Company, and other top-tier publications. Sheela earned her BA from Stanford and MBA from Harvard Business School and is the mother to two magical daughters.

HELEN KUPP is a co-founder and Senior Director of Future Forum. She has led many of Slack’s largest cross-functional and growth initiatives, and is the creator of many of Future Forum’s playbooks, tapping Future Forum’s research and networks along with her experiences at Slack, Bain & Company, startups, and her MBA from Harvard Business School. She’s also the lucky mom of two wonderful children.


Management, Leadership, Corporate Culture, Business, Nonfiction, Technology, Office Management, Business Management, Motivational

Table of Contents

Foreword by Stewart Butterfield
Introduction: The 9-to-5 Just Doesn’t Work for Us Anymore (and Maybe Never Did)
Why Flexible Work Works
How the Future Works: The 7 Steps to Getting There
Step 1: Stand for Something: Agree on Purpose and Principles
Step 2: Level the Playing Field: Create Guardrails for Behavior
Step 3: Commit to How You’ll Work: Develop Team-Level Agreements
Step 4: Experiment, Experiment, Experiment: Normalize a Culture of Learning
Step 5: Create a Culture of Connection from Anywhere: Reimagine Your Headquarters
Step 6: Train Your Leaders to Make It Work: Soft Skills Matter More Than Ever
Step 7: Focus on the Outcomes: Avoid the Doom Loop and Embrace the Boom Loop
Resources: Your Flexible Work Toolkit
Cast of Experts
About the Authors


Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today Bestseller

Unlock the power of flexible work with this practical “how-to” guide from the leadership of Slack and Future Forum

The way we work has changed. The era of toiling from nine-to-five, five-days-a-week in the office is now a relic of the past, and is being replaced by a better way—flexible work. But flexibility means a lot more than a day or two a week to “work from home”: 93% of your employees want more flexibility in when, not just where, they work. They want choice and they are leaving their roles to find it. The most successful leaders will go much further than offering occasional remote workdays—they will redesign every aspect of how work gets done, from defining how they measure organizational success to training their managers to make it happen.

How the Future Works: Leading Flexible Teams to Do The Best Work of Their Lives offers a blueprint for using flexible work to unlock the potential of your people. The book offers the steps necessary to building the new principles and guardrails to empower flexible, high-performing teams. And it teaches readers to lead with purpose, to manage and measure differently, and to believe that by letting go, they’ll get more back than they thought possible.

How the Future Works explains how to:

  • Establish leadership principles, commitments, and outcomes for truly flexible teamwork
  • Measure and assess productivity in a flexible workplace
  • Reskill managers to ensure a level playing field for all employees
  • Implement the infrastructure necessary to make flexible work successful

Using original research from Future Forum, a consortium by Slack, and global case studies from leading companies such as Levi Strauss & Co., Genentech, Royal Bank of Canada, and IBM, How the Future Works offers concrete solutions and practical steps for building high functioning teams of talented, engaged people by providing them with the flexibility and choice they need to do their best work.


“Well-written, insightful and full of practical suggestions for implementing transformative, flexible working. I have no hesitation in recommending this for any organisation that wants to move beyond the sterile home-versus-office debate and introduce a much smarter version of flexibility.” —Andy Lake, Consultant,

“We have arrived at a moment where we can backslide into the status quo or transform society for generations to come. How the Future Works makes the latter possible—providing us with a blueprint to deeply consider the future of work. It is a must-read for today’s leaders.” —Indra Nooyi, former CEO, PepsiCo and author of My Life in Full

“We know flexibility is the future of work—the big question is how it’s going to work. This book combines the latest data with actionable advice on giving people more freedom without settling for less excellence.” —Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife

“How the Future Works uncovers the key principles for building a culture that connects, supports and inspires every employee in this new all-digital, work-from-anywhere world. It’s an essential guidebook for transforming the way people work and unlocking their potential.” —Marc Benioff, Chair and Co-CEO, Salesforce

“I pay attention to the Future Forum. And if you’re interested in folks who take in gobs of data, listen, ask useful questions, and make helpful judgements on how we might work now, you might too.” —Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters

“CEOs confront few topics as complex, urgent, and strategically important as the future of work in a post-pandemic, increasingly digitized world. Brian, Sheela, and Helen highlight pitfalls, provide insight and practical advice to help guide leaders through these choices, and put us on a path to improve work for the benefit of our people and our organizations.” —Rich Lesser, Global Chair, Boston Consulting Group

“The disruption to work ushered in the era for flexible work forcefully. This insightful book provides a framework with examples for successfully implementing flexible, diverse, and inclusive cultures.” —Tsedal Neeley, Professor, Harvard Business School and author of Remote Work Revolution and co-author of The Digital Mindset

“How the Future Works is as valuable as it is much needed for today’s executive. The book is excellently conceived, organized and written. Plus, with the checklist at each chapter’s end and the tool kit at the book’s closing, it’s very easy to turn this into an action plan. Bravo!” —Alan Murray, CEO, FORTUNE

“How the Future Works is an incredible resource for business leaders as we navigate seismic changes in today’s workplace. The founders of the Future Forum are helping to answer some of the bigger questions we’re facing as we reimagine work and create new ways of working that can better serve both employees and employers.” —Tracy Layney, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Levi Strauss & Co.

“How the Future Works builds a very strong business case to reset how we think about flexibility, resulting in a better, more sustainable work model for both employees and organizations. It provides practical guidance and resources to think through where, when, and how work gets done – and most importantly, why flexibility makes strategic sense. An excellent read for leaders who are re-imagining the future of work post-pandemic, amidst a very competitive talent marketplace.” —Helena Gottschling, Chief Human Resource Officer, Royal Bank of Canada

“As the stress and burnout epidemic continues to grow, it’s critical for leaders to put their employees’ needs first. How the Future Works is a powerful blueprint for training your leaders to do just that. Not only is employee well-being great for your culture, it’s also great for your business. This is a timely book for all leaders.” — Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global

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