Value shifts of Working

Mirella Marcon
Über den Autor: Mirella Marcon

Mirella Marcon is an Open innovation Director at Sodexo.

Published on : 03.05.21
  • In order to understand and make sense of fast changes in society in a time of changing paradigms, Sodexo has done a research to explore the key emergent value shifts in society, and the areas that are relevant for human’s quality of life. To do so, we have explored the interrelated systemic interactions between humans and their context, technologies, behaviors, in shaping the future, around the globe.

    Future of Change

    The result is a larger perspective on future transformations from the end-consumer point of view. What will end-customers find valuable tomorrow? What are their key value drivers behind their service consumption decisions? Which end-customer behaviors will become wide-spread and transform Sodexo business in the next 10-20 years?

    Among the human activities, we have observed and analysed, we had a specific focus on the emergent value shifts of WORKING. Looking at the evolution of work, context and individuals’ values through time we see clear eras, and cyclic changes of paradigm that helps us understand the current emergent future of work.

    What we have seen from the recent past:

    • From the 80s to the 2000s, we could call this era Global Capitalism, during this period, we have seen companies adopt practices to enhance efficiency, stress resilience and inventiveness. For employees, work is a mean to individual mobility and success. The approach ‘work hard, play hard’ is adopted. But while global liberal capitalism was able to deliver new standards of QoL, new possibilities of individual wealth accumulation and new opportunities for global corporate expansion, the race to individual wealth created new fractures culminating in the financial crisis of 2008 and the social anxieties, tensions and backlash that we are still navigating today.
    • From around the 2000s until today we have moved into our current era, that we call here: Platform Capitalism. For work, it’s the era of creative Disruption: Innovation through creativity and disruption. New business models supported by tech. We have been thrilled with the promises and the narrative created by tech and Silicon Valley around entrepreneurship. Companies have adopted practices to enable flexibility and fit to company culture. For employees, work becomes a project of self-transformation and main source of identity, no division between work and non-work.
    • The emerging future: We are going through a crisis that clearly mark the beginning of a new era. The pandemics, plus political, economic crisis indicates us that a reorganization of the social contract, the roles and responsibilities of companies and individual behaviours will arise. What we have seen emerging in the new paradigm is that ccompanies adopt practices to facilitate engagement and commitment. For both companies and employees, work is about inclusion, transparency, and social responsibility.

    What we see emerging:

    The individualism that has marked past eras will increasingly give way to a future marked by the importance of community: The aspiration of sustainable future and the sense that change can be affected through collaborations across the social sphere.

    People will continue to rely on technologies, but technologies will no longer be the only answer: Rather humans will increasingly approach technology as just a part of an eco-systemic approach to change, enabling their purposes.

    Most fundamentally, humans will feel empowered and entitled to taking control over their lives in more meaningful ways – rather than just what they consume – and will track the impact of their actions across multiple layers of existence: body, community and environment.


    The main value shifts in working, for 2030, as signals and data show us are:

    IN 2030, PEOPLE VALUE WORK BASED ON ITS HIGH SOCIEAL IMPACT, as opposed to today’s dominant value Working is seen as a largely passive practice with little chance of creating impactful change:
    People are seeking career opportunities with the greatest potential social impact, and to work for companies that are aligned with their personal values.

    IN 2030, PEOPLE SEE FAIR LABOR CONDITIONS FOR GIG WORKERS AS THE NORM, as opposed to today’s predominant condition of Gig work as being often marginal and precarious.
    Growing numbers of gig work employment, alongside regulation for better worker welfare stabilizes and safeguards the gig economy.

    Many people seek flexibility and freedom on their working lives. Some aim on using their flexibility to dedicate time for purposeful activities, to give time to charity, solidarity organizations, or to support their communities.

    The companies that are leaders of their markets have already understood that their main challenge is to attract the best talents. And to do so, they need to demonstrate their positive impact in society, and environment. To work with partners that do the same, that are responsible and bring social value, through fair labour conditions, always evolving their sustainable practices.

    Technology helps individuals measure their impact and is enabling this change to happen. A concrete example: In France, consumers use an App to scan products at the supermarket called Yuka. In 2019 it was a big success of adoption of the solution. At some point, supermarket chains started replacing bad scored products, because they were no longer selling. This shows that technology can enable individual behaviour, to have an impact of the choices of distributors. Another example is Sodexo’s sensor technology solution Wx solutions, which is based on app technology and supports organizations in redesigning their work environments and in initiating change processes.

    With the lockdown period that we have and had; the whole world has experienced working remotely. At the end of the pandemics this will transform the way we work. The flexibility people want can come from the time they work and is also a matter of where they work.

    Before the pandemic people moved to some urban areas looking for higher-paying work, but it’s now possible to have good salaries jobs from almost anywhere. There’s a new trend called the “zoom towns”, where people are moving to nice smaller cities, to have better quality of life with lower real estate costs, and more space. All these movements will have an impact on how big cities are organizing, with lower flow of people, certain street retail will suffer and real estate values will be adjusted.

    Sodexo has done global surveys to better understand the impact on the working practices, and better support our clients on the after Covid responses in the workplace.

    Before Covid, we had already seen a great attractiveness for flexibility, and willingness of working from home.

    During lockdown, most employees working from home felt comfortable and confident. But there was an impact on 30% of them, on physical and mental wellbeing. 

    After the first lockdown, employees plan to increase the frequency that they will work from home.


    There’s a lot of initiatives to enhance the offer of third spaces. To give the possibility of working from home, office space near home, and the office. There will be new services to answer the new needs and solve the many tensions that appear in this new reality. Sodexo is actively testing and investing in solutions to support the quality of life of our consumers in their new journey. We are convinced that the traditional workplace will have less importance, and we will enter the era of work life. We call the new journey: Continuum of work.

    Nobody knows yet how the new normal will be. But we surely will need to have the capability of analysing the use of spaces, with consumers data. Companies will want to create flexible, attractive, and safe spaces that foster sense of community and allows social interactions.

    There will be a lot of innovations and new services that will be in place in 2030. The pace of changes we will see in the world will not slow down, and we are accelerating our transformation.

    This article was first published in Sodexo's whitepaper “Arbeitswelten”. You can download the entire publication here.

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