Andy Penn, Telstra CEO | ‘Flexibility is going to be crucial in the future’

Andy Penn, Telsta CEO

Andy Penn, Chief Executive Officer, Telstra

Telstra CEO Andy Penn was recently interviewed by David Pembroke, Founder and CEO of contentgroup, for the Work with Purpose podcast.

During the interview Andy was expansive in sharing his insights into the future of work.

“Flexibility is going to be crucial in the future.

So the organisations that are going to be successful are going to be those that offer the maximum amount of flexibility to their people to work how they want, when they want, from where they want.

And we’re all different — some of us are more introverted, some of us are extroverted — and we all do different things. And some of those things are more amenable to being done virtually or to be face-to-face.

Andy continued by saying:

“The point is, it’s actually the ability to offer that flexibility that’s actually going to make you an employer that attracts great talent and great skill…

I think the second point is really around technology — which is to have the technology to back that up — because I have been in a lot of discussions with people who say, ‘Well, it’s not the same, I want to be face-to-face’…

Of course, being face-to-face is fantastic where we can be, but not all video technologies are the same either, or video experiences the same either.

So having a high quality picture, high quality audio, and the ability to have a… maybe an application where you can share content and where you can actually engage. It makes a big difference and can dramatically improve the quality of working virtually as well.

The interesting thing about the technology is that during COVID we really saw more adoption of digital technologies in three months, than we had in the previous five years.”

And he made the observation:

“The epiphany out of that for me is that the constraint previously to adopting the technology wasn’t the technology, because if it was, we wouldn’t have been able to adopt in in three months.

It was actually our ability and willingness to adopt technology.”

And he finished with a further observation on changes to the culture of work:

“The other thing about this dynamic of all having to work from home, studying from home, is we’ve actually dropped a lot of the shields of business.

And by that I mean the office or the hierarchy or the suits and ties. And actually we are inviting people into our homes.

There’s usually not a day that goes by when I’m working these days when I don’t have some interruption in the background: the postman might drop off a parcel and the dogs will go nuts, or my wife might want to come and talk to me about something.

And I think that’s humanised us a lot more. And I think that’s a good thing.

And how we capture that humanity in our cultures going forward, I think is going to be really important as well.”

Andy also spoke about the adoption of emerging technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, as well as the way industry is working together with government to accelerate the post-pandemic recovery.

WORK WITH PURPOSE is produced in partnership between contentgroup and IPAA ACT, with the support of the Australian Public Service Commission.

The podcast can be accessed from the link below and is also available on Spotify, SoundCloud and iTunes.

Work with Purpose

Episode #25: Australia's bright future with Telstra CEO Andy Penn