Chief Work Officer: The Essential Role for Modern Business

chief work officer cwo graphic xponent21
August 25, 2021
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Courtney Turrin

Key Takeaways:

  • Automation technology and workforce distribution is driving shifts in how managers lead teams.
  • A chief work officer’s primary role focuses on process and aims to improve the work experience for individuals on a team.
  • Xponent21 introduced the role of Chief Work Officer in August of 2021 with the goal of empowering team members to deliver a truly unmatched client experience.
  • The chief work officer is an emerging role in business and more work needs to be done to understand all of the potential that is available to teams who install these leaders.

Work is life.

There is no other body that we step into when our shift starts and we don’t leave all of our personal stuff behind when the workday begins. We certainly don’t stop thinking about what is happening at work just because the workday is over. Our work life impacts our personal lives and what we do in our spare time impacts the quality of our work. If we have a bad day at work, those emotions are sure to bleed over into our personal time. If we have a problem in our personal lives, our work is likely to suffer. 

If our work is such an integral part of our lives, why do we work so hard to silo it instead of trying to make work an enjoyable part of life?

Developing a Model for the Future of Work

Xponent21 has largely grown organically through a relentless pursuit of delivering superior service and outsized outcomes. We’re so dogged about this that sometimes it can be painful to deliver the level of service that we want our clients to experience. That said, we don’t ever want individuals on our team to absorb pain so our clients can have a good experience. If anything, we should strive to make the employee experience equally enjoyable.

With a mission to make the world a better place to work, we are placing an intentional focus on creating a truly delightful work experience that can serve as a model for the future of work. Last year, we made the shift to a four-day, 32-hour workweek for all full-time employees, a change which has yielded positive returns ranging from enhanced productivity to improved talent acquisition. We believe the next step towards accomplishing our goal of designing a delightful work experience is to appoint a single individual to make this their full-time work.

What is a Chief Work Officer? Why now?

The Chief Work Officer is an emerging role, driven by the advent and maturation of technology and the connectivity of systems and people. A Chief Work Officer is charged with identifying opportunities for improving work systems and developing solutions that improve processes and workplace happiness. If a Chief Experience Officer is focused on delivering the best customer experience, a Chief Work Officer would work alongside them to create designed experiences and associated processes that support the customer experience goal, while delivering a similarly delightful experience to employees.

With the disruptive shift to remote and hybrid work, it’s natural to think that the Chief Work Officer role is a direct response. In reality, companies including Xponent21 have had roles that perform this function, they just haven’t come with the title and the work is often spread across the entire team. The rise of connected information systems and task automation have been accelerating business at a pace that ultimately demands that a role is dedicated to this work.

Why Xponent21 Created a Chief Work Officer Position

In order for our clients to feel confident in their decision to hire us, they need to feel like our number one priority. We need to deliver a great experience and our best work. In order for our employees to do their best work, it’s imperative that our employees are empowered to do their best work. Functionally, the Chief Work Officer serves as a support system to the team so they can focus on the work that matters most – helping our clients grow their business.

With the evolution of productivity technology, there are more opportunities to improve our systems than we have time to identify and adopt. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do as much of this work as possible. 

What’s Next? Changing the Way the World Works

I will be the first to admit that we don’t have all the answers. We’ve never done this before, and there isn’t a lot of precedent to guide us. With an eye on changing the way the world works, we are developing next practices via the role of Chief Work Officer. As we define this new position within our company, we will share our successes as well as our challenges so we can help other leaders as they consider this role for their company. We hope that by sharing, we can ultimately make a lasting impact in the world for people who work.

In my next post, I’ll share more about how we’ve structured this position within our team, detail the day-to-day activities we’ve identified, and map out some initiatives we’re executing on and the results of that work.

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Courtney Turrin is Chief Work Officer at Xponent21. As the company’s number two employee, she has helped guide the direction of our business, build a powerhouse team, and implement technology and workflows to improve service delivery and produce outsized results for our clients. You can find her on LinkedIn or follow her RV travels on Instagram.

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