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Work Now Task Force

Kendall Square Association’s (KSA) Future of (how we) Work Task Force answers critical questions about how our innovation ecosystem will return to work in a post-COVID-19 world. The Future of (how We) Work Task Force has addressed topics including transportation, workplace safety, open space, and supporting small businesses. 

KSA will be continuing Task Force meetings in the months ahead which will focus on the topics that are impacting our community the most. From childcare solutions to addressing the need for diversity, and sharing updates on transportation, safety, and small business, we will build on our learning and share our discoveries to serve as a resource for Kendall businesses.

(Re)Open for Business: An interactive discussion on supporting the local economy in Kendall Square

The meeting focused on the interconnectedness between Kendall companies and local restaurant and retail, and highlighted both a company and restaurant perspective on the challenges and opportunities in supporting the local Kendall Square economy.

This discussion featured:

  • Christina Abele (Senior Workplace Experience Director, IDEO)
  • Nicole Liu (Founder, VESTER)
  • Moderator: Jesse Baerkahn (KSA Board Member & President/Founder of Graffito SP)


October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This month’s Future of (how we) Work meeting featured Neil Jones, Director of CyberSecurity Evangelism at Egnyte. He focused on how to ensure your personal and professional digital information is secure from hackers.

MBTA Shutdown
September’s Future of (how we) Work meeting was held virtually on Zoom to convene KSA members and gain a greater understanding of how the MBTA shutdown is impacting Kendall Square. Members were invited to share employer-based efforts that have proven effective 20 days into the shutdown and share both individual and company practices that have emerged to adapt commutes into the area.

Transportation and Commuting

What are some barriers related to using different modes of transportation to commute to and from Kendall Square? To what extent are these barriers new due to the pandemic? And how does individual staff’s commuting impact companies’ ability to enforce their return to work policies? As companies continue to navigate the existing landscape of a new work culture, we explore the challenges and solutions related to transportation and commuting.

Building Effective Hybrid Teams

This meeting focused on sharing challenges and solutions related to the many component parts that enable a hybrid team to work effectively. This includes, among other things, executing a good meeting, creating collaborative experiences, and maintaining strong channels of communication among staff.

Staffing, Retention, and the Omicron Surge

As we launch into 2022, what are companies’ hiring and retention challenges? How has the Omicron surge complicated this? As the Great Resignation continues amidst the pandemic, staff in Kendall companies share their challenges and solutions for staffing and retention. 

Performance and Talent Management in Hybrid Work Settings

How can we recognize the accomplishments of individual contributors in an equitable way regardless of whether they are working from home, in the office, or in a hybrid setting? This question has been top of mind for many leaders in Kendall Square lately.

Vaccine Mandates

The Biden’s Administration’s mandate for all employers with 100+ employees to require a vaccine or offer weekly testing is news that continues to shift our world. During this meeting we unpacked how this is affecting organizational plans.

Closing the Divide in Hybrid Work

We’ve all been carefully monitoring the spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant across the U.S. in the last couple of months, and that alone, has highlighted the need for us to remain flexible. The session’s focus was addressing a few critical questions many organizations face as they prepare for a return to the office. How can we build consensus among the workforce around WFH expectations? How can we create inclusivity and connectivity in a hybrid work environment?

Returning to Work

This meeting used survey data from Kendall organizations to begin a conversation about how Kendall Square is welcoming back people to the office in healthy and welcoming ways.

Making Flexible Work Work Through Thick & Thin

How can we continue to make our businesses flexible places to work for everyone?

Flexible work is something we’ve had a lot of practice in and feel comfortable doing to some extent, but at the same time, it seems like it’s a nut we still can’t crack as evidenced by last month’s feedback about wanting to discuss more topics related to flexible and hybrid work structures and policies. Peter Hirst, Senior Associate Dean of Executive Education at MIT Sloan School of Management, first implemented a flexible work from home policy for his MIT team in 2016 which has continued to present day.

Met on May 18, 2021

Business Continuity During a Pandemic

What can we do to ensure safe and smooth business operations now and in the future?

This session takes the topics we’ve been talking about in past Future of Works and integrates them as part of a single cohesive plan that could provide some source of stability during future unexpected events and catastrophes. This will not be the last pandemic we encounter. The unexpected will happen and the more that we and our teams can be prepared, the better off we are.
* assets from Ron’s presentation are available below

Met on April 27, 2021

Vaccines & Population Health

As our country moves forward in recovery, what questions should we be asking ourselves in the long and short term about the health of our employees?

There is still much uncertainty about how to navigate a process as complex as vaccinations, especially when we take into consideration different people’s perspectives and experiences. Today, we are going to explore how one organization is tackling these questions and how they are helping employers rethink the way they take care of employee’s health and well-being.

Met on March 16, 2021

Change Management

As we transition into an evolving hybrid workplace, what are the trends we’re seeing and what mindsets should we be cultivating to set our people and organizations up for success?

During our eleventh Future of Work meeting, we explored cutting edge thinking on change management and discussed how we are preparing our people for what comes next. We were joined by a local expert, friend and fellow Cantabrigian, Dr. Camille Preston who specializes in developing capacity in executive leaders equipping them with the tools and perspectives needed to build the trust, transparency, new systems and bandwidth to help teams work more efficiently together.

Met on February 23, 2021

Office Space

How do we reimagine our office space to accommodate the flexibility needed for our future workforce?

As we wrapped up 2020, we shared a survey with our Future of (how we) Work Task Force members to learn about their plans for 2021. When asked about what they believe their future will be, more than three-quarters of respondents indicated they anticipated having a flexible operating model with large portions of their workforce working remotely at least some of the time. This creates a new set of challenges around how we utilize our office space to reinforce culture and meet our shifting needs. KSA invited three thought leaders to share their approach to tackling these challenges: Nancy Siefert, VP and Global Director of Interiors & Insights at Jacobs, Jovana Abu-Ali Design Lead for Global Interiors at Jacobs, and Mark Moreau General Manager of CIC Massachusetts. 

Met on January 19, 2021


With access to vaccines becoming increasingly realistic, how can we plan for a post-pandemic future?
As all of us work to put 2020 in our rearview, we are starting to think big about the lessons that this year has taught us and imagine what our offices and labs will look like in a post vaccine reality. To help us level set and prepare for this conversation we partnered with Amgen to craft a 10-question survey asking you about your current work from home policies, and what you thought your operating model might be in the future.

Met on December 8, 2020

Workplace Culture

While we continue to work remotely, how do we maintain our workplace cultures? At this Future of (How We) Work Task Force meeting, we heard from three speakers about how to enhance workplace culture while some employees return to the office and others work remotely. Workplace culture is a big part of what draws, retains, and inspires talent. While every company’s culture is unique, we have all experienced challenges related to workplace culture in the transition from on-site to remote work. Some companies are finding ways to maintain the culture they had cultivated pre-COVID, while others are reimagining their culture altogether. 

Met on November 10, 2020

Innovation and Collaboration

When it comes to business development and networking in the age of COVID-19, no one knows where to start. In October’s Future of (how we) Work Task Force, we asked ourselves, how do we recreate the power of Kendall Square’s connections, collaborations, and contacts? Michal Preminger, Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, East North America led the discussion with speakers from MassVentures, MacDouglas Advisors, and LabCentral.

Met on October 13, 2020

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In September, our Future of (how we) Work Task Force explored how companies are augmenting or pivoting their DEI programs to meet the needs of their employees given two realities: 1) the pandemic and 2) the increasing urgency to dismantle racist systems. We had speakers from Conscious Customers, Jacobs, Jobcase, MITIMCo, Sage Therapeutics, Takeda, and Pfizer share their best practices and opportunities for improvement.

Met on September 15, 2020


During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic employers and their people scrambled as we all adjusted to working from home. Now that we are nearly five months into this crisis and an end doesn’t appear to be near we are transitioning from scrambling to planning, and one of our biggest challenges is how to support caregivers and create a culture that normalizes the need to take care of our families. At our fifth Future of (How We) Work Task Force meeting, we heard from leaders at four organizations about how they are approaching this challenge and spent time in small groups brainstorming ideas and solutions.

This issue disproportionately impacts women and addressing these challenges is critical to making sure that we don’t backslide against the progress we have made.  While no one has all the answers on how to solve this problem right now, the goal of our meeting was to create dialogue, and exchange and spark new ideas so that we can all take steps in the right direction.

Met on August 11, 2020.

Kendall’s Collaborations During COVID-19

This meeting focused on the outcomes from the first three Future of (how we) Work meetings. We were able to review the MassINC Transportation survey results, the CIC shared their CIC Health Assurance Testing and are looking for collaborators, and lastly, we were able to introduce our new pilot Toast Drop. Toast Drop allows employers to provide their staff with the food they love and flexibility they desire, help keep the risk of contamination under control with aggregated deliveries, and support the struggling local restaurants in your community.

Met on July 15, 2020.

Open Spaces / Small Businesses

This meeting highlighted the need for clear, accessible information on open space and small businesses. KSA has created a Small Business page on our website to keep you updated on what is open in Kendall. Don’t forget to visit our COVID-19 Updates page as well. We have partnered with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority to develop a map of Kendall’s open spaces to be launched on our new website at the end of June.

Met on June 4, 2020.

Workplace Safety

We learned in this meeting that the cost of purchasing COVID-19 testing supplies is cost-prohibitive. To ameliorate this issue, KSA has been assisting an initiative led by CIC called the Cambridge Testing Consortium. Companies can purchase supplies together in bulk to keep down costs. CIC is also setting the standard with its Workplace Safety Plan and Self Check App.

Met on May 27, 2020.


After this meeting, the consensus was that we needed to learn more about how employees were feeling about their commuting options and working from home. KSA, in partnership with MassInc and with support from the Barr Foundation, launched a community-wide survey. There have been more than 1,000 responses to this survey and MassINC is working on a final report that will be available in July.

Met on May 19, 2020.