Are you thinking about the future of work?

Cover of "The Future of Work: How the New...

Cover via Amazon

There is no doubt the workplace is changing dramatically.  Here a few things you need to know about the changing nature of work. Increasingly workers are Telecommuting, and communicating with managers, co-workers, customers and partners using Skype, Google chat, Yammer, and Instant Messaging.  Web workers source and deliver their work on the Internet. Knowledge workers can work for different organisations around the world, without ever setting foot in the organisation HQ.  Increasing workers are being valued on their ability to contribute to team projects.  The person that can contribute the most is most likely the leader.  The future of work looks likely to be much less formal and hierarchical and much more performance driven.

Added to this is the rise of the Green Economy and the creation of a new set of Green jobs, related to environmental, and community sustainability.  The drive for clean energy and consumers’ desire to high end high tech goods will impact on the types of industries and jobs that establish themselves in your community.  New jobs are likely to be based in knowledge work, which is good for maths and science graduates, but also for those who can communicate across the medium of web technology. Health and education jobs will grow, as new technologies are adopted in these domains.

The essential skills for the knowledge work include the ability to manage the customer, organise people on mass, (Facebook fans), digital community management, project management, management of teams or teams of teams (tribes).  Lesser work will be contracted out to people who will work for less than you or I.

Organisational and personal values will collide. The Internet brings greater transparency in personal and business life. This will impact on organisations’ ability to attract high quality workers. Employees of the future will be more inclined to measure doing well, by doing good.   Their work will be much more visible to family and friends and workers will want to build a reputation for good work, in worthy organisations.  Personal values are more likely to affect career choices., so values such as honesty, integrity, responsible citizenship, respect of others, and accountability will be key drivers at work.

How will people interact at work? Knowledge workers will not exclude older workers, they will remain in the workplace, in part-time and flexible roles, consulting, contributing on a project by project basis.  Generation Xers and Y will be less loyal and more mobile.  Management will become more conservative as decision making is more transparent.  Decision making is likely to be more co-operative and less hierarchical.  Everyone, management, customers, workers, suppliers  will be connected professionally and socially.  Managing information and ideas across multiple channels will be a key business challenge. Identifying the source of original ideas will be a high priority. The boss will not longer be able to steal their employees ideas and pass them off as their own.

Disney was right, the world will become smaller, with technology breaking down geographical and societal barriers.  Workplaces will become much smaller, as they are currently costly to establish and maintain. More workers are likely to work from home, the coffee shop or local technology hubs. Houses will be smaller, but more high tech, with careful management of energy and connectivity.

Learning will be on tap and personal.  That is not to say personal interaction is not important, but it will have strong online elements, especially the tools of learning.  We will be able to learn anywhere, anytime, and this is going to make us more useful to our organisations.

What does this mean for us as workers, learners, managers and coaches? It means we need to anticipate constant change in our work and workplaces in the next 10 years. Anyone who works in a place that “stays the same” will be unique, and quite possibly vulnerable. We need to consider how to establish and integrate our own brand and brand promise in the new world of work. We also need to consider how our values stack up in a more transparent world.  Is our management style one, we would want our friends and family to know about and respect?  We need to become masters of project management and problem solving. To be flexible, self aware, and self managing. We will need to be able to take responsibility for our actions, and be producers of value rather than consumers of workplace resources.

There is plenty for us to think about in the next few years. Are you ready for the future of work?

Time: The Future of Work

The Future of Work by Thomas W. Malone.

Is collaboration tech bad for office autocrats too?

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