However we may have defined the \u201cfuture of work\u201d before 2020, our new reality has advanced technology investments, inspired new operational models, and changed how we work. While the rapid shift to a digital-first world powered by remote work proved mostly successful, some organizations are vying to put the genie back in the bottle by bringing employees back to the office. This is resetting the future of work, placing leaders at an inflection point. While the specifics of the future are hard to predict, what is clear is that the future of work isn\u2019t what it used to be. Work is splintering toward a new trajectory, one without a playbook, proven case studies, or even consensus. Where we go from here, is the conversation we need to have right now. \n\nDespite the prominence of the topic, expert hypotheses, and an abundance of research, most chief experience officers and organizations still struggle to understand and tackle the topic. For many, the future of work is about hybrid and remote work. To some, it\u2019s about HR and employee experience. To others, the topic is focused on automation and emerging technology. This lack of definition has forced many CXOs to retreat to existing ways of working, while also highlighting a lack of ownership within many organizations. \n\nThe future of work is already here \n\nThink about how far we\u2019ve come and how quickly what was once a \u201cfuture\u201d of work is now our new status quo. Collaboration tools enabled synchronous work, meetings moved to virtual environments, email shifted to real-time messaging, and mobile devices have finally brought to life work-from-anywhere models. Once on the \u201cway out list\u201d of technology investments, AI, RPA, machine learning, and other automation innovations are augmenting work itself. At the same time, traditional working hours stretched beyond 9-to-5 and the idea of work\/life balance suddenly morphed into work\/life blending. Wellness, self-care, and employee experience are front and center in leading organizations. \n\nThe present of work needs to be reimagined to inspire a new and better future of work. We can\u2019t just return to normal and expect to thrive. This is a time to savor the lessons learned during this great experiment to redefine our notions of and aspirations for work - including everything from how we will work to where we will work to what kind of work we will be doing and how that work will be valued. \n\nSo, what is the \u201cfuture of work\u201d and how should CXOs approach it? \n\nNot everything about the future is directly related to technology. Much of it starts with perspective and curiosity and how fixed mindsets vs. growth mindsets influence the future of work differently. \n\nReimagining the paradigm of work \n\nLiving this new future of work hasn\u2019t yet elasticized or opened fixed mindsets. Legacy processes, tools, and management practices have not kept pace with the rapid rate of tech disruption, behavioral expectations of employees, and emerging operating models. The work itself (tasks, activities, roles) has remained relatively the same over time, except it\u2019s now remote and moving at a faster pace. This prevents organizations from thinking outside the norms and structures of today - stifling innovation and reinforcing legacy practices, measures, and management techniques. If these mindsets were to persist, the future of work would look a lot like yesterday\u2019s normal, just operating under the guise of a new normal. \n\nReimagining work begins with understanding the work that needs to get done in context of where an organization aims to be in the future and how that vision aligns with the evolution of behaviors, expectations, and preferences of customers and employees. Just because some leaders are striving for normalcy, people can\u2019t unsee the freedoms, conveniences, and empowerment that come with connectedness. In fact, Salesforce research found that not only is the world forever changed, 76% of workers do not feel prepared for working in a digital-first world. \n\nIn a separate Salesforce study, 54% of workers believe technology will advance faster than the skills of the workforce. The only way to bridge the gap is to assess the existing divide within the organization between current skills, skills in development, and skills needed in the next five-to-ten years. \n\nThe future of work is now about balance and inspired by empathy outside of the mindsets still holding onto pre-2020 ideologies. \n\nInstead, the new future of work is about enabling experience, value, and productivity by working faster, smarter, and anywhere. It\u2019s about leveling-up skills to collaborate with emerging technology and deliver more meaningful outputs and outcomes externally. This new paradigm for work puts more focus on employee experience, the organization, and how transformation is approached. \n\nWhereas in the past redesign of work has been focused on process and technology, this new paradigm of work addresses the human component of design and change. \n\nBy fundamentally reinventing ways of working, organizations can drive greater customer-centricity & organizational change \u2013 resulting in greater agility, operational excellence, revenue growth and lifetime value (for both customers and employees). \n\nChanging how we change: A new approach to transformation \n\nThe need to adapt has resulted in organizations taking on a myriad of transformation initiatives. However, many organizations are struggling to implement these changes successfully and expediently. Why? Because transforming an organization isn\u2019t as simple as changing an IT system or adopting new software; it\u2019s about rethinking the very foundations on which your company operates. \n\nTo design and prepare for the future of work, CXOs need to change how they transform. This requires challenging the status quo of what work is, how it gets done, and to transform with purpose and forward intention (transforming from doing things differently to doing different things). Rather than focusing transformation on specific use cases, process improvement and technology to do the same things, transforming for the future of work is intentional about designing for experience, workflow, and scale \u2013 driving greater agility and value by transforming the organization itself. This transformational goal helps push from incremental transformation to continuous innovation. Designing the future of work also means a focus on human centricity. \n\nPutting the human at center means focusing on employee experience and transforming holistically, including transforming roles, management, and the organization itself. \n\nEnabling scalable, integrated, end-to-end transformation also requires a new approach to technology strategy. \n\nAn integrated platform approach enables work to be designed \u2018front-to-back\u2019 maximizing interactions, efficiency, and effectiveness. A platform-led approach also allows for greater alignment and connectivity across efforts, at scale. Platform thinking allows CXOs to both transform for operational excellence (efficiency and effectiveness), while also better enabling experience design through shared capabilities (for both customers and employees). \n\nThe future opportunity for CXO\u2019s is here, now \n\nDesigning work for the future will require a fresh approach to how we transform, prioritize connection, and reshape mindsets. CXO\u2019s sit at the center of this revolution. CXO\u2019s today are the trailblazers for tomorrow. Their ability to create, lead and manage change will dictate survival. CXOs need to work together to understand what changes will mean for their business, their employees, and their customers (regardless of their role or title). This means that leaders need to be prepared to embrace change and take an active role in shaping their company\u2019s future. They need to define their organization\u2019s future ways of working and how they will get there. \n\nSo, what\u2019s next? \n\nCXOs need to prioritize three key shifts that will dictate the design of future work in their transformation programs today: \n\nThe future of work starts with you \n\nThe future of work is a growth mindset. It\u2019s an attitude. It\u2019s an experience-led, human-first approach to digital transformation and work itself, rooted in the thoughtful relationship between people, technology, and processes. \n\nThe future of work represents a shift in how we design, prioritize, and engage in work \u2013 one that prioritizes value add activities and focuses transformation on future tasks, activities, and roles. It puts a new focus on enabling the employee, leader, organization, and ecosystem. In the future of work, success is defined by your outcomes, not how you get them done. It\u2019s also digital-first, so employees have the flexibility and freedom to succeed from anywhere \u2014 however they like. \n\nWhat\u2019s also true, is that the new future of work will be shaped by those who choose to see and build a better future for all stakeholders. \n\nThis article was co-authored by Niema Alimohammadi. Niema is an experienced strategist and thought leader who focuses on the future of work, digital transformation, and experience design. He works with leading executives on enabling value creation and innovation through new ways of working, platform thinking, and adaptive operating structures.