STILLWATER, Okla. (OBV) – The Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business has a new initiative that aims to help Oklahoma businesses become more innovative to keep up with everchanging work dynamics.
Spears School of Business recently launched the Center for the Future of Work. The center’s mission is to help individuals, business and communities capitalize on technological innovation.
“The center is a natural evolution of our long history of partnering with businesses to solve problems and foster innovation,” said Dr. Ken Eastman, dean of Spears Business. “As we all know, the pandemic has caused disruptions in the nature of work and the center will help organizations find ways to meet these challenges. We believe that the center will help foster economic growth and opportunities in the state and region.”
The Center for the Future of Work makes the Spears School of Business’ resources and expertise accessible to Oklahoma businesses and industries to help those businesses address key problems. Strategic focus areas are as follows:
- Professional development and executive education
- Business consulting services
- Applied research for innovation and social impact
A team of eight make up the Center for the Future of Work, including Dr. Rebecca Eastham, the center’s director, Kelle DeBord, the center’s assistant director, a program manager, program coordinators and specialists who help with registration.
The team helps companies adjust to workplace changes.
“The workplace has changed quite a bit now, especially after COVID,” DeBord said. “We’ve always had and provided a resource for businesses and organizations. The center is broadening the scope because there’s a need for this.”
The center shares new knowledge with businesses through conferences and consultation, taps into emerging technologies to transform how business is executed and provides awareness on the benefits of rethinking personal and organizational development.
Companies across Oklahoma are noticing the center’s efforts and reaching out to them, often for assistance adjusting to a work environment that is becoming increasingly virtual, with a growing number of employees working from home.
“We’ve had several companies reach out to us, seeking the training that they need, because the workforce has changed,” DeBord said. “It’s a totally different world now. When COVID hit, the workforce changed. People were able to work from home, but businesses were trying to figure out what the future workforce is going to look like.”
The center also works to fulfill OSU’s land-grant mission by influencing state policy to entice individuals and families to relocate to Oklahoma.
Eastham, who has a background in workforce and economic development, said the center’s ultimate mission is understanding future work and leveraging its full potential to benefit as many people as possible.
“I believe the center will be the preeminent entity in Oklahoma and the region to provide research, data analysis, training and consulting for businesses, nonprofits and government entities,” Eastham said. “The center will be known as a key contributor in advancing local and regional economies and making measurable positive societal change.”
The center primarily works with Oklahoma companies, including accounting firms, banks and energy sector businesses, but has also provided consultation services to a few Texas companies, according to DeBord.
The center will host a Future of Work Summit in late August. The summit will focus on innovations in business. Author and podcast host Stephen Dubner will be the keynote speaker.