In our recent Future of Work Geelong HR Roundtable, we discussed what lies ahead for the workplace, the workforce, and the nature of work itself.

The world of work is changing. Is your organisation keeping up?

  • Hybrid working – no longer an ‘if’ but a ‘how’.
  • AI – shaping the future.
  • The changing employee experience.

Meet our leading industry experts:

Andrew Keen WorkSafeAndrew Keen – Executive Director, People, Culture and Corporate – WorkSafe

“When thinking about the future of work we need to understand and try to build the capabilities needed in new and evolving environments, and these capabilities are ever changing and dynamic. The speed and volume of information and data that a person needs to process before they execute on decisions and tasks, the empathy and nuance they may need in their engagement, confidence in their judgement in a world of AI, just to name a few. 

Creating an ecosystem where these capabilities can be developed in people simultaneously, to maximise purposeful performance for people and the organisation, in an environment that has a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of people, is the ultimate future of work challenge.”


Belinda Perisic HeadshotBelinda Perisic – General Manager, Executive Services – Coulter Legal

“Coulter Legal has been an industry leader in their approach to flexibility and hybrid working for many years, something that was accelerated even more with the on-set of the global pandemic in 2020. They are committed to delivering work life balance and integration for all of their people in the future.”



Andrew Retschko MedibankAndrew Retschko – Senior Executive Talent Acquisition and Engagement – Medibank

“The biggest issue relating to Future of Work is related to change. People will change jobs with higher frequency, engaging in different modes of employment across different industries. The challenge facing organisations and individuals looking to hire or create employee experiences is how they will adapt and accept this pace of change. 


Now is the time to redesign the way we work.


Theme #1 Capability

What capabilities do we need to see in our employees?

Functions need to be designed to suit operations. However, disruptions are coming thick and fast (pandemic, changes to legislation, war in Ukraine) and are more impactful than ever before.  Things need to be re-imagined. Andrew Keen recommends trying to predict what your disruptors will be and change capabilities accordingly.

Whilst what workers want is an important question to ask, for WorkSafe and many other organisations, the big question is also – what does the customer need?

Soft Skills are the “hard Skills.” More and more we are seeing a capability gap in emotional judgement – something that AI is incapable of.

Andrew Retschko believes there is now a range of capabilities required by employees. The shift is from “depth” to “breadth”.  i.e., from deep functional experts to people who work across a variety of functions. People who work on the “whole problem” and not just one aspect.  Employees are also looking to work across different areas. Agile models of working connect employees to purpose and the need to know what the organisation is doing as a whole.

According to PwC people will have 17 different jobs across five distinct careers.  Medibank is taking the approach – let’s aim for an employee to experience 5-6 roles within Medibank for a longer-term commitment with the organisation.

In looking at what their people want, Coulter Legal are shifting their business model to a value and partnership model rather than a billing model. Belinda Perisic advised they have structured programs to be able to nurture and train people offering them a legal career path within the organisation and enticing them to stay in the region. Building opportunities, learning opportunities, employee experiences e.g., Graduates working with seniors to gain experience.  When it comes to recruitment, it’s about getting the right people – in-house training assists with the rest.

The next piece will be to work out – what do lawyers of the future need?


Theme #2 Leadership Capability

Teaching someone leadership skills is challenging when someone has already been in the role. We quite often see this in the health industry where a nurse for example has been promoted but has little to no leadership experience.

In an innovate move, Coulter Legal embrace leadership skills training from Graduates onwards so when they get promoted into leadership roles, they are ready. So, promotion is not just based on technical skills but also being able to share knowledge and be a good leader.


What sort of skills do we want our future leaders to have?

How do you create the environment for success?

As Coulter Legal grow, they are creating roles so that people can move and progress within the organisation.

Andrew Keen believes leaders need to understand what their role is in the big picture.

“Leadership Intent” – you want a person to execute but to do that well they need to have a clear understanding of leadership intent – be clear on the organisations and the leadership team’s ethics and values.

This is optimised when you have relationships and have face to face time with leaders i.e., employees learning from their leaders simply by observing, being around them and working with them.

In a hybrid working environment this aspect is compromised.

When in the office leaders are often approached, even if only a casual interaction. Those people won’t specifically connect with you in a hybrid working environment. So according to Andrew Keen, things need to be re-framed, expectations set to try and replicate the office environment.  Social interactions and clear guidance for leaders on how to deal with this needs to be provided.

Andrew Retschko stated that “As a result of the pandemic, we have invited people into our homes by necessity – not choice.”.

We’ve all had a similar experience and all of a sudden, organisations have responsibility for people’s wellbeing and mental health. This is a fundamental shift in what we have ever asked leaders to do.  Monitoring energy levels, ensuring inclusion, continued motivation, identifying capability gaps – and intervene when you need to.  This is a crucial part of a leader’s role.

In some organisations this has led to the appointment of new roles such as Chief Mental Health Officer.


Theme #3 “Homework”

Prior to the pandemic, Medibank has always been very flexible with employees except for the call centre division. However, the pandemic forced the call centre into homes and yielded some interesting results.  A spike in engagement and productivity and, as a bonus, workplace loyalty. The flow on to happy customers become evident too – happy workforce, happy customers.

A Medibank call centre role is now a work from home role – they call it “Homework”. The team gets together in the office once a quarter only.

A challenge for call centre leaders is the ability to no longer “walk the floor” listening in on calls. Again, all KPI’s and almost all tracked metrics have improved showing that “walking the floor” is not critical.

Team leaders of call centres are meeting challenges with open communication options and individual teams being well connected.


Theme #4 The Hybrid Model

Regular wellbeing surveys by Coulter Legal have indicated Mental Health is a high priority when working from home. People are missing the “water cooler” moments.

A few ideas to replicate these “water cooler” moments in a home working environment include Teams chat function, structured team huddles, Friday afternoon quizzes.

Giving people the choice to come into the office if they need that connection is one of the most impactful decisions that Coulter Legal has made.

Implementing a roster system so they can feel comfortable coming into the office, rather than saying you need to be in the office X days.

Believing this is the future of work and what employees and jobseekers want, Medibank is keen to keep the hybrid model – keeping an eye on “the three C’s” – connection, collaboration, concentration. And Medibank are walking the talk. With a new office fitout in play at Medibank, Andrew highlights the new office will have more collaboration spaces enhanced with cutting edge technology that allows seamless communication, connection and collaboration between office and remote workers.

Coulter Legal will embrace the hybrid working and can’t see it changing. It’s been great for the business and they have been able to grow. Belinda’s advice is to work out what works well for your business and don’t let that go. Challenge it from an HR and Leadership perspective.

Finding a hybrid model that is ideal for employees, the organisation, and customers?

We are all on a learning journey.


Theme #5 Succession

Will there be bias in succession for people working in a hybrid environment rather than those based in the office full-time?

Known as “Proximity bias” this is a very valid question to ask.

At Medibank male workers tend to be spending more time in the office than female workers. Should this result in bias, an organisation needs to be very conscious in challenging this. People should not be disadvantaged in the workplace just because they are dropping their kids off at school each morning.


Theme #6 Digital Work Visas and Working Abroad

Compliance issues and tax implications often stop employers providing the option to work for their organisation from another country, the panellists concurring that this currently sits in the too hard basket.

Conversely the panel want to see more from the government to enable talent to enter the country and add value to our employers not just our economy. Employers need something beyond the digital visa and more streamlined than the current work visas.  It’s a very admin heavy process and the ease of the process needs to be improved.

It was noted by Maree Herath, Director Harvest Talent Recruitment and other audience members that digital talent is increasingly nomadic. Most individuals in digital specialties, preferring to work remotely.


Theme #7 The Future Worker Avatar

What is the persona of the future worker?

At the moment our model is a human resource-based workforce ie/ a person is required to do the work. In the future AI will complement this.

Think about:

In 20 years’, time, what will the worker value?

What skills will they need? What will they value?

Where will they live? How will they work?

How will they interact with AI and bots?

Ultimately, what will the community expect?

This may be perceived as hypothetical, blue sky thinking but it is about preparing for our future workforce.

In most organisations, transactional components that can offer speed and efficiency for the customer experience can and should be automated.


Theme #8 Data

We are in a knowledge-based economy and once you know something, you know it.

What data is driving changes you are making?

For Medibank, it’s engagement surveys. Annual – longer survey.  Quarterly – key questions.

For Worksafe, it’s learning about what makes for safe behaviours and changing its operating model to one that focusses on the prediction and prevention of injury.

What employees are telling us and predictive analytics is driving decisions regarding the future ways of working.


Other Resources

Managing Introverts and Extroverts in the Hybrid Workplace (

Balancing Act. Is Hybrid Working Part of Your EVP? – Harvest HR

Successfully Leading Hybrid Teams – Harvest HR

Hybrid Working. 3 Emerging Trends. – Harvest HR


Where to from here?

Contact Harvest for any of your Talent Recruitment or HR requirements.

Harvest Digital Capability Project

Geelong HR Index 2022 will give further insight into the current world of work

Geelong HR Breakfast 2022


Thanks for joining in the chat.

“This was an excellent session with highly knowledgeable and articulate panel speakers. Thanks Harvest team for facilitating this,” Meridith Telfer, Coach 

Keep the Future of Work conversation going on our Linkedin page.

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