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Troy Pfeffer on the future of work: Robots can't replace collaboration

By Ned Dymoke on Oct 22, 2020 3:39:10 PM

Troy Pfeffer is looking at a screen. It’s not an uncommon sight these days, with 90% of all jobs in the American economy requiring at least some interaction with computers as part of the workday. But on Troy’s screen is a workspace that could change the future of American work as we know it.

Troy is the North American Marketing and Partnership Director for Howspace. Already wildly popular in the tech savvy Nordic countries, Howspace is a platform that presents digital collaboration in a whole new light. We’ve all been in boring meetings (and many of us even had the truly dreaded ‘meetings about meetings’) — well, Howspace allows for a much more democratic approach to remote collaboration and organizational change. I’ve seen it in action, and it’s pretty impressive. So impressive that their client list includes huge names — for instance, Finland’s capital city of Helsinki uses Howspace for its virtual event planning.

With all this in mind, I took an hour out of Troy’s day to ask him about Howspace and how it could quite literally change the American workforce.

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NED DYMOKE: You’ve described Howspace as ‘shaping the future of work’. What does that mean, in your own words?

TROY: When you talk about the idea of ‘the future of work’, it’s not a new conversation. Ever since people have been working, they’ve been talking about what it will look like in the future. But what is new is how work is changing. For the longest time, work was defined as a “place that you go every day”. Many companies still define work in that manner. And in that environment, the focus is on streamlining and process improvement in an effort to obtain cost savings and boost productivity. This approach worked well for decades, but recent developments have exposed the inherent limitations of this idea of work.

How so?

The pandemic has been terrible, absolutely devastating, in a lot of ways, but in other areas it’s been an accelerator. COVID really helped amplify and speed up the process of moving away from this strictly brick-and-mortar idea of “work”.

The more progressive companies are now changing their definition of work from “where I go to work” to “what I do for work”. And in that environment, the focus shifts to augmenting “what I do” with technologies such as robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence. But the really progressive companies take that shift even further, redefining work from “what I do” to “how I do it”. And in that environment, the true potential of the workforce can be realized resulting in new value creation for the organization.

"True potential of the workforce can be realized resulting in new value creation for the organization."

Go further with that. 

So, to capture this new value requires a different way of ‘working’ together. Howspace is shaping the future of work through the better engagement of people with AI powered digital facilitation. We enable any company, organization, or group to benefit from this shift in work. 

Just opening the door in the morning can be an expensive proposition when you’re stuck with this old idea of being strictly brick and mortar. With Howspace — and working remotely in general — you can work from just about anywhere in the world. The talent pool exponentially opens up. Who doesn’t benefit from something like that? Howspace enables people to work with the best people on the planet, wherever they happen to be located.

What drew you to Howspace?

A number of things. It's a Finnish based company which has a wonderful culture that lends itself to a collaborative and co-creative environment. In addition, the area that they’re focusing on, software as a service for the engagement of people, is something that I’m really passionate about. I’ve always been fascinated by this ‘future of work’ topic, and Howspace really embodies that in every aspect of the company. 

What do you feel will be the biggest work skills in the near future? 

Creativity and collaboration will be huge. Those are things that machines and machine learning can't replicate. Adaptability will also be very important in the near future. As work continues to change, we must be willing and able to change as well. This would especially include how we view work in general and how we approach our work. 

"As work continues to change, we must be willing and able to change as well."


Finally, where do you see Howspace in 5, 10 years?

I see Howspace being used to better engage people for a common cause, whether that’s work or otherwise. It has already spread rapidly within certain sectors of the work environment and will soon spread across work in general. Social learning and working is coming. I feel that adoption will be so common that Howspace will become a verb!

Great talk. Thanks, man! What can people do next? How can people learn more? 

Contact me! I'm passionate about shaping the future of work through the better engagement of people. I'd love to hear what others think.