A conversation with Mika Cross. Workplace Transformation Strategist and Futurist at Strategy@Work, LLC.

People are so concerned with this innovation piece, this collaboration piece. How are we going to get more products out the door? How are we going to serve more people? How are we going to be CX/UX design premier to make sure we meet people where they’re at, and our customers are satisfied? But if your workforce can’t even speak up, or feel comfortable or don’t feel like there’s that psychological safety where they can voice concerns, or they see a red flag they’re able to speak about it, it will affect your bottom line.” – Mika Cross

In this episode of Control the Room, I had the pleasure of speaking with Mika Cross about her journey helping both private and public sectors transform the workplace.  She starts with reflections on how her time in the military helped shape her perspective on workplace transformation.  Later, Mika shares why she fell in love with people, process, culture, and performance consulting.   We also discuss simple tips for improving psychological safety in large bureaucratic organizations.  Listen in for thoughts on how and why companies need to invest in workplace culture.

Show Highlights

[1:50] How Mika Got Her Start

[8:05] Using Human-Centered Design To Write Policy

[16:30] Acknowledging The Elephant In The Room 

[27:35] Designing The Workplace For 5 Generations

[31:50] An Overlook Benefit Of VR 

[36:45] Reframing The Challenges Of The Future Of Work


Mika on LinkedIn

About the Guest

Mika J. Cross is a distinguished human capital expert,  transformational workplace strategist, and innovator. With experience designing and implementing innovative,  strategic workplace solutions, she has expertise in remote and flexible work implementation, change management communications, talent acquisition/management,  recruitment branding strategies, next generation/future workplace forecasting, workforce skills development, performance management, employee engagement, and policy development.

About Voltage Control

Voltage Control is a change agency that helps enterprises sustain innovation and teams work better together with custom-designed meetings and workshops, both in-person and virtual. Our master facilitators offer trusted guidance and custom coaching to companies who want to transform ineffective meetings, reignite stalled projects, and cut through assumptions. Based in Austin, Voltage Control designs and leads public and private workshops that range from small meetings to large conference-style gatherings.

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Full Transcript

Douglas: Welcome to the Control The Room podcast, a series devoted to the exploration of meeting culture and uncovering cures to the common meeting. Some meetings have tight control and others are loose. To control the room means achieving outcomes while striking a balance between imposing and removing structure, asserting and distributing power, leaning in and leaning out, all in the service of having a truly magical meeting. Thanks for listening. If you’d like to join us live for a session sometime, you can join our weekly Control The Room Facilitation Lab. It’s a free event to meet fellow facilitators and explore new techniques so you can apply the things you learn in the podcast in real time with other facilitators. Sign up today at Voltagecontrol.com/facilitation-lab. If you’d like to learn more about my book Magical Meetings, you can download the Magical Meetings Quick Start Guide, a free PDF reference with some of the most important pieces of advice from the book. Download a copy today at Magicalmeetings.com.

Today I’m with Mika Cross, a transformation workplace strategist and government workplace expert who has designed award-winning innovative employment and flexible work programs across the US government and private industry. Mika’s also a trusted advisor on The Future of Work and was called to testify as an expert witness for the government oversight and reform committee where she has shared her recommendations for the federal workplace post pandemic. Welcome to the show Mika.

Mika: Thank you so much for having me.

Douglas: It’s so great to be here and talk with you about a subject that I’m near and dear about. Before we get into it, I’d love to hear a little bit about how you got your start.

Mika: Oh boy. How I got my start. Oh, there’s so many different stories I think. I’ll start with really my first entrance into a career versus just a job. So I actually am an Army veteran and I served in uniform, both enlisted. So I learned to become a good follower before I learned to become a good leader because I then became a commissioned officer. So I kind of got to see both sides of the coin. The line in staff, sort of blue collarish grunt work workforce side, and then the leadership managerial roles as well. That really I think, set me off to a great start in terms of perspective. I worked in human resources. I was an adjutant general leading highly deployable units. I often was stationed with the boys, so I worked in the cavalry unit supporting tankers, and then rapidly deployable infantry folks. But I was in a support role.

Then after 9/11, I transitioned to a federal government agency, still in uniform though active duty, where I worked across organizations in this highly matrixed form, helping to design and develop policies and strategies that reached all branches of military services, civilian workforce contractors, you name it. Really had to coordinate and think about culture change and how policies would affect the workforce and culture at large versus just one component branch micro culture.

Then sort of traipsed my way across government where I wanted to learn everything and touch everything on the cusp of workforce people, strategy, policy. So I worked in diversity, equal employment opportunity and inclusion. I worked in work life and wellness. I worked in human capital policy, leadership, management, website performance optimization, and was able to really do some really great things. I worked at the Department of Agriculture and stood up award-winning telework programs more than 10 years ago. So it wasn’t new for government to be doing things a little differently. Worked at the Office of Personnel Management, Department of Labor before jumping over to private industry where I served as vice president of employer engagement for a fully remote company, FlexJobs, working with employers of all sizes, types and industries. Just was really able to capitalize on that passion that I have around people, culture, process and performance and what it can mean now, but also for the future.

Douglas: It’s interesting to hear about that end and this kind of passion around people, process, culture, thinking about that journey you’re on from being enlisted. It’s quite a lot about logistics and making sure that communication is always smooth and that people understand what needs to be done and everything’s flowing in a great way. Then doing policy. I mean it seems like just the evolution of the career kind of set you up to do the work you’re doing now.

Mika: Yeah, funny story about communication, that was actually my major. My bachelor’s degree is in mass communication. I often thought I wanted to go into public relations and marketing because I just had an affinity for the pen. I thought I might want to do some journalism, whatever that might look like. I really enjoyed how can you message things to connect and relate with people?

Well, the Army had different plans for me. So you can say that you want to do something and sometimes they put you where they need you. So I had to learn logistics, budget, personnel and all of those things. But at my core, I was an adjutant general, which is your HR director for a unit or organization. I think the combination of the skill that I had as a communicator and the interest that I had on the people side really was a winning blend because it served me well throughout every other position. Some jobs I even had were communications directors within a human capital or human resources component.

So if you can imagine the magic that happens when you’re being able to translate and communicate with a workforce around the policies in a way that they can understand how to apply them and use them, it really is a great blend. So yeah.


That’s really fascinating. This idea the Army had different plans, but I’m also curious, as you were kind of in those moments, how did your appreciation for communication and the written word, and helping people understand each other and relate, how did that show up even in those moments where you weren’t directly put into a role of communication, so to speak?

Mika: Oh yeah. I think I have a story from early in my career that might be helpful to paint the picture of that. But I mentioned that I was supporting highly deployable units, and these are folks that have to be ready to go at any given time, within 24 hours or less notice. So something happens, we move into action, and if you can imagine a workforce of 16,000 plus soldiers that you’re supporting to be deployable, ready to go, prepared, what does that mean for the families who are supporting our frontline service members?

So at the same time that my unit and my organization that I led had to lead, and prepare and be ready for this highly deployable workforce, I also led a family support group and a spouse support group at the same time. That was one of my many other duties as assigned. When I was part of that role at the moment, I wasn’t a parent. I was newly married, so I didn’t have much experience as a regular family, or mother or what have you as I did later in my career. But I listened and I could also hear the distress and concerns from the family members who have to love and support those service members when they get called to action, and also are left to take on different duties and roles and transition their service members when they come back.

That information and the ability to connect with people on a real relatable, transparent level helped inform then how I would create newsletters, and conversations and activities and events that would help bring people together by using their input and their real world experience to help form policies, activities, programs, initiatives that would then support them. Sort of like user centered design, right? Human-centered design, in fact.

I took that experience with me pretty much in every other role. So it would help inform how I would write a policy. It would also help me understand how it would affect people who are doing that hard work. It also helped me connect with leaders and managers from that managerial perspective and what they would need. So the workforce communications that I was responsible for, I started evolving and also customizing for the different audiences. I also found that there is power in the pen when you’re talking about being able to have ownership of how policies are written. So when I went into the intelligence community and I was updating all of these antiquated policies in a top secret environment that had to be implemented in different ways, I raised my hand to volunteer for that project because I wanted to learn the policies, but I also took the opportunity to just change little wordsmith changes in how the policies were written.

If you can imagine a highly bureaucratic government agency. So it would say, employees must not request X, Y, Z. I switched the language to say employees may request X, Y, Z. I would make it more plain language and more in a positive active voice than passive. In a way where it almost empowered both the workers and the supervisors to be able to make those really important decisions rather than get buried in that bureaucratic language that is really hard to decipher. I started seeing the impacts of that in addition to the marketing, the outreach, newsletters, conversations, town halls, you name it. So I really got jazzed about that and took those experiences with me in every role that I’ve ever had.

Douglas: I love that. This idea of shaping the language so it draws people in.

Mika: Yeah, because sometimes they are complex. I mean, some of the HR policies, even in private industry, they’re written in tax law, and compliance and requirements that managers have to uphold. Think about your performance management policies. Oh my goodness. But if we write them in a more relatable way, still conveying the parameters and guardrails that people have to follow and stay within, you are almost empowering them to take control over what they are in control over. So even if it’s a small team, those micro decisions in the organization, you can really start affecting culture change even on a small scale by starting there with the policies.

Douglas: It even makes me think how humor can be so powerful, yet oftentimes these documents, since they have legal ramifications and they’re regulations at some level, but I think that there’s an opportunity for people to maybe embrace a little bit more creativity, a little more fun in some points. Because some things have less risk than other things.

Mika: True, very true. I think people at the end of the day want to feel like they have a voice and that their leadership cares. It doesn’t have to mean that you’re responsive in taking action in every last suggestion, idea, or recommendation that you get. But it does take skill and effort and some investment in opening the doors to building that culture where people feel safe to voice their preferences, suggestions, ideas, concerns and feedback.

You as leaders of an organization to be responsive to that. You could say, “Hey, we’ve heard your feedback. Based on your feedback, because of your feedback, we’ve done X, Y, or Z.” Or, “we’ve considered your feedback and we did take it to this level of the organization. Unfortunately at this time we cannot do this, but we thank you for your feedback.” Sometimes you have to message it many, many, many times and continuously remind people that you are taking… Did you notice how many times I said feedback? Your feedback or whatever. It could be a suggestion box, it could be a pulse survey, it could be name it.

Sometimes you have to say it, say it again, say it in a different way. Put it in written form, do a video, do a in person event. You’re messaging it again and again. It strengthens and it also helps to uphold that trust, that culture, the glue that can really help your workforce operate as a cohesive unit.

Douglas: The repetition’s so critical and the thing that it reminds me as well is giving people visibility in the process. Because if people are just dropping stuff in a suggestion box and then things happen and maybe even if we take the effort to say that things happened and thanks for the feedback, it’s not the same as people hearing that, “Oh look, we got this idea X number of times.” Or, “There’s a pattern of the feedback that falls into these categories.” Even giving people feedback on the feedback. “Hey, this is all really great and here’s why this category of stuff is a little problematic for us right now because we’re trying to be mindful of how it impacts people with neurodiversity or whatever.”

So that way it helps people understand the thinking, because if they just see the outputs and the inputs, it’s harder to know what’s happening inside.

Mika: You’re so right. I think also, and in addition to those things, sometimes as leaders we tend to shy away from the things that we don’t have answers for. It’s really tricky to be vulnerable and honest and transparent. But I’m advising some very senior leadership right now in the federal government and they’re preparing for a town hall. For years their staff is still working remotely, not just because of the pandemic, but also because there’s a redesign of the office that’s happening and things of that nature. There’s a lot of uncertainty around when people are going to be expected to come back, if they’re going to be expected to come back and what the policy will look like. But also a date for when the renovations are done.

There are literally no answers right now. It’s been almost three years and it’s the number one topic, number one and two topics that the workforce wants to know about. So I’m recommending that they start off their next town hall by saying, “We know everyone’s still interested in knowing, so am I. Unfortunately, XYZ still doesn’t have a date or a deadline, but we know this is near and dear to your heart and as soon as we have an answer, we’ll be preparing to communicate with you and give you those answers that you’re looking for. We’re sorry that we don’t have the answers. Not on us, but at the same time we will keep you informed and we know it’s important to you.” Even just those words are powerful and it makes people feel seen and heard even in an environment where they’re working fully remotely.

Douglas: Yeah. Even just affirming and reinforcing what we’re hearing allows people to know that oh wow, okay, it’s been noted.

Mika: Yeah, exactly. Again, people feel and sense the genuine care and responsiveness. Not it’s not fake, it’s not coming through as artificial. It’s coming through as hey we know this is something that is important to you. It’s important to us as humans as well and I wish I had an answer for you, but we don’t. So even just acknowledging that. That can look a little scary because at some levels of the organization you might feel like, oh goodness, am I going to be liable if I say something wrong? So maybe I won’t say anything at all.

I mean think about the tumultuous things that have been going on over the last three years in our country and areas of the country and issues that are happening all over. But not saying something sometimes can convey messages that you don’t want to convey to your workforce. That is you are tone deaf, or you’re looking a blind eye or you are not interested in how people are feeling about XYZ current event.

Douglas: The other thing that’s bringing to mind too is sometimes that can come from a sense of just fear. If I bring this up, what’s going to happen? Maybe even acknowledging that can be valuable at times. I know this is on everyone’s mind, I’m not even sure how to address it at this point, but I want you to know that I realize it’s on everyone’s mind and we’ll discuss it as there seems to be time to discuss it. That’s pretty human. I mean talk about being transparent, it’s just being honest about hey, this is a little difficult to discuss right now and I don’t want it to just be an elephant in the room.

Mika: Exactly. If you don’t, it really leaves people feeling like they don’t have a place where they can voice it. Some might say oh well maybe work isn’t the place for it, but where do we spend the majority of our time in our waking hours and our lives? It’s working and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical location, but if we can’t lean in and show up for one another, show care and compassion and build those cultures where people feel like they can bring their whole selves to work, they won’t and they’ll go somewhere else where they can.

Douglas: Yeah. I personally have a hypothesis that the reason that people feel so much overwhelm and burnout is because of this stress associated with not being able to bring themselves. Because imagine Superman has to go into… I’m sure Superwoman has to as well, but never really saw her get in the telephone booth. So I’m not sure she maybe had a place where she transitioned from being the normal citizen to being the superhero. We’re having to go through those same transitions at work when we’re transitioning from our personal identity to work identity and it’s exhausting. The more we can let go of that and just be ourselves wherever we are, I think that will decrease burnout and stress.

Mika: Oh absolutely. I mean even if you take that a step further and consider if people can’t feel like they can show up and ask the hard questions, if they see something that might not look right or feel right, they don’t feel comfortable voicing it, think about the effect to the products, innovation, your customer service delivery. I mean if people are keeping quiet, that is the last thing I would want in an organization, especially if you are forward facing, customer serving and mission focused. People are so concerned with this innovation piece, this collaboration piece. How are we going to get more products out the door? How are we going to serve more people? How are we going to be CX/UX design premier to make sure we meet people where they’re at and our customers are satisfied? But if your workforce can’t even speak up, or feel comfortable or don’t feel like there’s that psychological safety where they can voice concerns or they see a red flag they’re able to speak about it, it will affect your bottom line.

Douglas: Absolutely. I like to think of it from the perspective that if we’re not talking about it today, it’s not going to make it disappear. It’s going to mean that it’s just going to come out later and it’ll become more expensive to fix later because more things will become dependent on those decisions, and more things will have happened and more people will be impacted. It’s just a lot more to unravel. It’s sort of like if your car starts making a noise and you wait a year to fix it, it’s probably going to be more expensive.

Mika: Yeah, absolutely. In this job market, people who have jobs right now are leaving their current positions at the rate globally of about 25%. So imagine a quarter of your workforce could be looking for another job right now. So if you think that these things don’t matter, you’re absolutely wrong. It’s more than just remote work, or hybrid work, or flexibility in location or flexible work schedules. It’s also company culture and that really matters. I mean culture is having a watershed moment at this current time in the work environment that we’re navigating.

People had the opportunity to reset their priorities and really reimagine what they want for their lives, how they want to spend their time, what their priorities are. People are leaving in droves, they’re quiet quitting. We’re talking about the great resignation, it does matter. They are searching for a more meaningful experience for themselves, for their career and more of a match for things that matter. Both at work but also in their home lives as well.

Douglas: That echoes something you were telling me in the pre-show chat, which was this need for kind of purpose and the reasons for gathering. I think that echoes up to the need for purpose as an organization. Why are we here and how can we make a difference?

Mika: Yeah, absolutely. I think to our communication conversation, the more we can equip leaders and managers of our workforce with the right talking points and messaging, but also tactics and how we reward, how recognize, how we offer performance feedback and tie it back to the reason, the big why. Simon Sinek, what is your why? Why are we investing all of our waking hours during the day or the majority of them to this purpose? What does it matter?

They often say in the federal government, NASA lands at the top, top, top of the list of the best workplaces in the federal government nearly every year. So there’s the story that just says, you could walk into the halls of NASA and one of their facility locations and ask the janitor, “What is your purpose? What is your mission? Why are you here?” He or she might turn to you and say, “I’m here to put people on the moon and explore space.” So the more we can translate your everyday task oriented activities, work performance, team-based collaboration and work and how that ties into what matters most to us in our organization and our values.

Again, remember that message, repeat, repeat, repeat in different ways? The more people feel connected and that sense of purpose, people want to do a good job. The majority of folks want to feel like they’re making a difference in their work. Look at the frontline healthcare workers in this country and they were able to sacrifice their own needs, their family’s needs during the pandemic and show up for those who needed them. Now they’re faced with the rate of burnout higher than any other industry or occupation and it’s really going to spill over into how we are able to care for those in our country.

You wait. I mean the surgeon general put out a warning about healthcare worker burnout as a crisis, a national crisis and estimates there’s going to be a shortage of millions of lower wage healthcare workers within the next five years. It’s going to impact us all.

Douglas: Yeah. In addition to the communications piece, I think you were also telling me about your interest and recent work in using data to understand needs preferences, and sounds like there’s some interesting work happening there.

Mika: Yeah, I’m really excited because I’ve been working with a team that put together sort of a grassroots level now culture council. So it’s like a workforce affinity group, employee resource group you could say. But it’s really focused on culture rather and so they call it the culture council and it’s really evolving and taking legs in terms of… Growing legs rather in terms of impact and people taking on areas, and challenges and opportunities around culture, engagement, workforce experience, and all of those beautiful things. But they’re taking an active role. So now this council is serving as an advisor, an advisory committee sort internally for senior leaders to hear what people want, how they want and also listen to some recommendations. That in turn allows the leadership team to prioritize resources and determine do they need training? Are we going to invest in X, Y, Z? It’s really this beautiful blend.

Well one of the things they put together was a little survey and people can feel sometimes survey fatigue after too much of it. But the workforce created a survey for itself. Collected nearly 50% of the workforce insights on this small survey and came back with recommendations especially as it relates to back to office and return to office strategies for being together again. So they were able to provide these insights based on data that the workforce gave on different levels in the organization who prefer different things. Some of the organization might be comprised more so of introverts or these are data scientists or what have you, and it does differ even within the larger organization and culture.

It has been fascinating. So what they found was that for the most part, the majority of folks who participated in the survey, they want to come together over social events like food, or an activity, or fun or social connections rather than information knowledge sharing, regular traditional kinds of work. They actually feel like… This group feels like they can accomplish more deep work and sort of mission related work individually and independently and then come together for more social engagements and then when needed that collaboration and interactivity.

So it’ll be really interesting how leaders are going to be using those data insights to inform their return to office strategy or not and the impacts as they go forward. Because the intent is to stay connected and continue to hear from people’s perspectives how things are landing.

Douglas: That tracks with how I’ve been thinking and also what I’ve been noticing around Austin with regards to real estate. Because we have an event coming up in December and I was looking for a venue partner and talking to a few different companies around town and touring their spaces. It’s really fascinating to watch people move from this completely structured office space that’s got dedicated desks for people and to some more kind of open and new concepts that are kind of designed to meet people where they’re at.

Mika: I think it’s variety. I mean we have five generations of workers in the workforce right now. Think about your Zennials, and Gen Z and beyond. I mean my teenage son, if I text him more than two lines in a message, he will tell me, “Why are you texting me paragraphs?”

So people are joining our workforce in droves and the ones that we want early careerists, college educated or not. Trades educated, experience educated also. Your earn by your learn apprentices that come into the workforce as well. But these kids have also been through a tremendous transformation in the way that they’ve experienced life and learning in the education system. They’re knocking on our doors, if not already, to come into the workforce. So their expectations are going to look a lot different. They have competency and skill with relating, connecting and collaborating and learning in a virtual environment as well as in a hybrid environment too.

So the more we can give choices and structure work design, work time, work policy and flexibility to meet people where they’re at while still holding them accountable of course, and delivering mission and customer efficacy, the better off we will be.

Douglas: Yeah. I think variety and inclusive design in general. How can we design things so that we’re considering all the various needs? It’s often the case where people will say, “Well, do we really want to make something unique or spend extra money to accommodate a half a percent of our staff?” But there’s so much evidence out there that when we design for those people, everyone benefits, right?

Mika: Yeah. If people don’t feel comfortable in their workspace, wherever that might be, how can they bring their best to work? I read this interesting article in the UK is considering rolling out benefits that are around menopausal and menopausal age women and what that might look like. It’s not a laughing matter and every woman experiences it at some point in their life and it can manifest in different ways. Whether that’s physical affliction, mental fog, joint pain, fatigue. You name it. Even how your body regulates temperature. So what if someone is freezing and thinking about how they can stay warm in the workspace instead of focusing on the work itself? Or something as easy as the ability to sit to stand in a workspace versus your traditional seated desks? There’s just so much to consider. I mean that’s just one example.

But the other thing to think about and consider is the level of percentages of elementary school aged children who have diagnosed neurodiverse challenges and consider even the percentages of those that are not diagnosed yet. What does that mean when we’re thinking about workspace design and mandating that people come together in a certain way? Well if there are fans or open space, you want to design this open space collaborative work design, what if that doesn’t work for the person that needs quiet, or less distraction, or not be comfortable with that interpersonal interaction as much when they’re performing the duties that they can do either independently or in more quiet, less distracting kind of office space?

So there’s just so much considerations and sometimes we forget. We have our blinders on because we translate information and consider it from our perspective. It’s the whole reason why people are chomping at the bit to get back to the office, but not everyone is. What does that mean for your workforce who might have some concerns or anxiety around what that looks like after spending XYZ months or years working comfortably from their home office?

Douglas: I’ve seen some research that came out about people’s experiences in the pandemic and working remotely. It was really fascinating to see that underrepresented folks, BIPOC in specific, were feeling like they were more able to effectively collaborate and contribute. Because in the virtual space, their perception of the micro biases or micro aggressive kind of things that are happening are less prevalent in the virtual space. Because when you’re in a room with someone, you’re feeling all those things or noticing all those little facial ticks or whatever they are, and in virtual that stuff’s kind of diminished. Which is super fascinating because we as facilitators always talk about the signals are harder to pick up on to tell of where we need to lean in or lean out. It hadn’t really dawned on me that some people benefit from that.

Mika: Oh, a hundred percent. I’m really glad you brought up that data and what the findings are. In fact, I read a recent SHRM article and also some research done by the Future Forum out of Slack. Those findings substantiated exactly what you’re saying that traditionally underrepresented folks and women that are BIPOC, and also LGBTQIA and other demographics, parents, caregivers, you name it. It kind of leveled the playing field when shifting to this remote virtual workspace where people didn’t have to feel like they were being judged, or that they were having to experience bias or those microaggressions based on their race, their ethnicity, their religious observations. The fact they have to leave to go pick up their kid or what have you, or other issues.

So that research is very powerful to consider when you’re looking at your new future of work strategy and how you might consider meeting people where they’re at and offering choice, and preference and different ways of being flexible. Not even just location, but also work schedule flexibility, shift work and things of that nature.

Douglas: Really so important. I want to just take a moment to maybe chat about the future and what might the world look like if we do more of the things you’re talking about. As we start to work and think about workplace in these ways and more people adopt these kinds of thinkings and practices, what does the world look like?

Mika: Well, I think it’s a world of opportunity, if I may say so. We are in the midst really of this once in a generation transformation to the way that we’re working. If we don’t take advantage of that opportunity to do things differently… Also I mentioned like test and assess, right? There’s no one size fits all answer because we have so many different nuances and different industries, occupations. Some jobs simply cannot be performed offsite and remotely, but are there components of the job that can be done so? Maybe it’s even once a month or a couple times a year. Thinking about emergency preparedness since we are at the tail end of emergency preparedness month in September, and how can we leverage flexible ways of working and our policies and people strategies around continuity?

Think about what’s happening in Florida right now and the southern coast with the hurricane season. My heart goes out to all those folks who are experiencing that level of devastation. But there’s always going to be unplanned events, unplanned emergencies and unexpected disruptions. How you position yourself now to embrace and humanize the workforce, embrace and meet people where they’re at and embrace test and assess workforce flexibilities that can continue making things work, supporting your workforce and keeping them engaged, and then therefore performing the services of your organization are going to be incredibly powerful when you’re considering now and then the next piece of the future of work.

Douglas: Amazing. Well, I think to me the net is we have the power to create the future and we should be doing it one question at a time, listening to the people that we’re around and we’re working with.

Mika: Yeah, absolutely. It starts right now and what we do matters and we can recalibrate and reshift where needed and pivot where needed. We’ve proven that haven’t we? So I would say be fearless. Invite your workforce to be a part of that change. It doesn’t mean you have to act on every piece of it, but it does mean you have to create a culture where people feel heard and respected and where they feel valued enough to be a part of those conversations. Then again, look at the data and test and assess. So those are my two cents.

Douglas: Awesome. I want to give you an opportunity to leave our listeners with a final thought as we wrap up here today.

Mika: A final thought is that, again, I think people were so excited after the pandemic to think about going back. Back to normal, back to the office, back to the way they were before the pandemic. But we have changed. We have changed as people and humans, we have changed as family members, friends, community members, and our workforce and workplaces have also changed. So I really, really recommend thinking about how you can reframe those conversations and taking advantage of the potential that is out there right now and again for the future. It’s really an exciting time.

Douglas: Well, thank you so much, Mika. I really appreciate you being with us and sharing all this amazing thoughts and hopefully we talk again sometime soon.

Mika: I would love that. Thank you for having me.

Douglas: Thanks for joining me for another episode of Control the Room. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates when new episodes are released. If you want to know more, head over to our blog where I post weekly articles and resources about radical inclusion, team health and working better. Voltagecontrol.com.

Mika J. Cross is a distinguished human capital expert, transformational workplace strategist and innovator. With experience designing and implementing innovative, strategic workplace solutions she has expertise in remote and flexible work implementation, change management communications, talent acquisition/management, recruitment branding strategies, next generation/future workplace forecasting, workforce skills development, performance management, employee engagement and policy development.