Business Continuity, Corporate Culture

The Future of Work: Flexibility and Community Remain Key

Over my lunch hour ….such as it is in the work-from-home era…..I attended the Wall Street Journal Live Journalism session on the Future of Work.  This blogpost gives a brief summary of the event and considers where The Santa Fe Group/Shared Assessments stands, or might go, with concepts offered in the discussion of the Future of Work.


The session presented forward-looking perspectives from a politician (Representative Ro Khanna, D., California), an executive (Kat Cole, COO and President of Focus Brands, parent company to iconic foodservices including Jamba Juice and Cinnabon), and a design visionary (Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studios). While each presenter considered a separate facet of the future, all visionaries agreed that the COVID Pandemic has accelerated – rather than revolutionized- changes already present across our working culture.


Rep. Ro Khanna spoke about how remote work will positively impact his district, which includes Silicon Valley. Khanna defined the challenge of the Digital Age as how communities across the country can participate in building wealth through innovation rather than just consuming technology. The dispersion of talent from Silicon Valley during COVID as workers in tech leave the high-rent bay area for wide-open spaces may be a successful solution to the challenge. These moves to less populated areas are a part of that dispersion of talent and technology.


On the topic of dispersed talent, Shared Assessments’ Nicole Musolf, SVP Administration, notes “We have been cultivating a work at home mentality since our inception.  While based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we are able to attract talent from across the nation resulting in a robust staff with a wealth of talent, expertise and diversity.  We have recruited the best subject matter experts in the field.  Along with their expertise, these SMEs bring the relationships they have built with other third-party risk professionals resulting in a community that reaches outside our headquarters.”


As a female leader, COO and President of Focus Brands, Kat Cole discussed the importance of flexible work and diversity in corporate leadership. Speaking to the childcare crisis as women have dropped out of the workforce at an alarming rate during the pandemic, Cole indicated that to change the world, we need to start at home. Empathy must come from the top, which takes intentional leaders attuned to patterns of suggestions and needs voiced by teams. Flexible work is here to stay, Cole thinks, but organizations need to address their creatives and innovators who crave connection and collaboration.


Catherine Allen, Founder and Chairman of The Santa Fe Group and Shared Assessments said, “ The topic of talent management and diversity and inclusion are top of mind to corporations and boards today, and if not, should be. COVID-19 required many businesses overnight to pivot to work-at-home and to consider the challenges of entire households staying at home, the security and distraction implications and the mental health of employees. Additionally, the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement made organizations more focused on what they were doing internally, as well as externally, to promote diversity and inclusion.  To that end, The Santa Fe Group and Shared Assessments have held a number of meetings on talent management and D&I and are hosting a webinar for members on the topic on December 10th.”


Design visionary Thomas Heatherwick explored connection and collaboration further.  Heatherwick explained that remote work will transform our corporate buildings and cultures for the better.  The architect of Google’s new Mountain View and UK offices, Heatherwick attempts to capture the imagination of the people working there. With the pervasive shift to remote work, Heatherwick’s focus has only intensified – corporate headquarters will become temples to the values of the organization, conceptual community centers embodying the ethical positions of organizations.  Buildings will become places of collaboration. “Corporate Offsites” will become “Onsites” and togetherness will remain key. As we restructure our companies physically and holistically post-COVID, Heatherwick suggests we ask “How are we good neighbors?” How are we a part of the community? And, what is our part in society?”


For the Santa Fe Group/Shared Assessments, it is true that the pandemic has not revolutionized how we work, but it has reinvigorated our focus on community and the organization’s wider role in society.  Within our dispersed team, we keep community and collaboration at the heart of Shared Assessments.  Our founder, Catherine Allen, envisioned an organization that would harness the collective intelligence of a diverse global membership to create a more secure and resilient world. We have continued this work during the pandemic and as we move forward into a new landscape, our own future of work, we will continue to:



We invite you to join us in our work towards building a more resilient world.