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  • Ava Robotics

The Great Resignation & The Future Of Work

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

Marcio Macedo Of Ava Robotics On How Employers and Employees Are Reworking Work Together

An Interview with Karen Mangia

The key word here is everyone. Inclusivity and accommodation must become standard and less reactive to certain situations that may come up along the way. If a new technology isn’t inclusive, it won’t work very well to support the future of work.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Marcio Macedo, cofounder of Ava Robotics. Marcio is cofounder and vice president of product at Ava Robotics. Previously, Marcio was director of product management for commercial robots at iRobot where he led the product strategy for iRobot’s leading-edge autonomous robots for commercial applications. Prior to iRobot Marcio served in product management leadership roles at Poly and HP.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.

Before we took Ava Robotics independent as a standalone company, we were incubated within iRobot. We continue to celebrate these technology origins at Ava today. It allowed me to understand the automation and technical needs at an evolving workplace. My time as a product leader with iRobot helped lay the foundation for how I approach workplace robotics and robotics in general.

Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

Culture and talent dictating success will remain consistent, despite the many changes we’re experiencing now and are yet to experience 10-to-15 years from now. The power of individual talent, retaining that talent, and effective management of teams will remain the core success factor.

Hybrid and remote work are already making a large impact right now, but in years to come, we will probably look back on the physical spaces in which we used to work and feel like we’re living in a different world. When it comes to changes in the workplace, two main areas come to mind: reconfiguration and automation.

The fluid and dynamic workspaces that are more closely associated with design firms or creative agencies will become more of a standard model for all industries and businesses. Flexible spaces that can reconfigure to accommodate process improvements and optimal teaming will be expected. And reconfiguration will then drive the desire for more automation — not through one type of technology like robotics or IoT, but through multiple, connected, integrated technologies.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

Futureproofing requires companies to turn away from a lot of legacy processes and approaches in order to better embrace adaptation through technology and more fluid workplace solutions. In other words, you can’t rest on what you’ve always done, not even a little bit, anymore. And that goes across the entire business.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

It’s interesting because, in the context of Ava, we’re always thinking about closing gaps. In fact, I would say that is a primary function for workplace robotics, whether it’s closing gaps in data within a workplace, augmenting staff, or closing the presence-disparity gap between remote people and people on-site.

The pandemic exposed the gaps I just mentioned in a bigger way than ever before. But it also presents us with what feels like a larger generational gap too. The newer generation has different priorities and thoughts around work and its meaning. The WHY and WHERE mean more, and rather than work-life balance, it really is more about quality of life. Recognition, acceptance, and solutions for these gaps must be built into the business and the culture of the business.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working from Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

This represents a larger statement being made about quality of life and the importance of businesses investing in personal preferences going forward. Seeing a future where remote people function and are perceived equal with those physically in the workplace–that’s why Ava Telepresence Robots were built in the first place. Remote equity and experience aren’t really the future of work, they are happening right now. The future is more about scaling and optimizing remote and hybrid work and workplaces.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?

The key word here is everyone. Inclusivity and accommodation must become standard and less reactive to certain situations that may come up along the way. If a new technology isn’t inclusive, it won’t work very well to support the future of work.

If you’ve ever attended an event centered around disability awareness or solutions, you’ll get a better idea of what we really need to solve for with accommodations and how we approach physical spaces. The amount of thought and real-time problem-solving is amazing. We have a lot to learn and gain from inclusive approaches.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

Young people. What the next generation brings to the workplace is going to truly shift our outlook, solutions and products to be more thoughtful and human.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

There are actual benefits employers can offer as part of their benefit packages, but it all comes down to flexibility and feedback. Active listening and getting feedback on what people need and want on a continuous basis, as simple as that seems, is actually pretty innovative.

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

Having a flexible business model also means having a flexible culture that can adjust to people and preferences quickly and effectively. Company cultures must focus on gathering as much human intel as possible and then being able to translate this feedback into values and action, starting with leadership.

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”

— HD Thoreau

The simplest solution is often the best. When you’re in the business of solving problems for customers, the simpler the solution, the more effective it often is. Finding a better way doesn’t always have to be complicated.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

Tim Cook. His career trajectory and background–the path he took to get to where he is now–I find very interesting. To be at the top of what I consider the most influential company in the world that produces the most influential product that has ever existed is incredible. Apple’s ability to deliver on its vision for a connected future under the current technological and geo-political dynamics is impressive.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

The best way to reach me is through Ava’s social channels, following Ava Robotics on LinkedIn and Twitter to see news, features, and insights from our team.

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.

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