Are we on track for the 2020 workplace?

Friday, December 4, 2015 - 17:06

Guest post by Rob Davidson 

In 2010, Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyard released 'The 2020 Workplace' outlining their predictions for the future of work.

Their views received critical acclaim at the time. Given we are now near the end of 2015, it is interesting to reflect which of their predictions are on track. 

Let's take a look at five of the more interesting predictions:

1. You will be hired and promoted based upon your reputation capital

We're not there yet, but I would say this one is on track. In a world where 'average is over' reputation capital is on track to be the top currency of the 2020 workplace. 

As we move towards a world where by some estimates up to 50 per cent of the workforce in countries like the US will be working as freelancers by 2020, your personal brand will be the currency by which you source your next gig.

Your personal brand, your expertise, the testimonials to support the quality of your work will become your core currency.

Companies will place more emphasis on the quality of their employees’ social networks. Having a large social network is not the key - it is how well you demonstrate you can turn those networks into revenue. In my own field of HR consulting and recruiting, smart companies are already measuring this metric.

2. Your mobile device will become your office, your classroom and your concierge

Top marks - this trend is well on track. By 2020, many administrative roles will be replaced by our phones.

3. The global talent shortage will be acute

As shown by data from Deloitte, growing areas will be mainly focused on STEM related skills - science, technology, engineering and maths – and caring roles.

4. Recruiting will start on social networking sites

The interesting point is that just five years ago this was seen as a 2020 prediction. Today, this is standard practice for most companies. 

The scary point for employees, however, is the second part of the prediction, which relates to the new question employers will ask job candidates. The questions include:

  • How many followers do you have on Twitter? On Facebook? On LinkedIn?
  • How many people have recommended you on LinkedIn? Can you tell me why each one recommended you based on your current and or previous business relationship with them?
  • Have you turned your Twitter followers, LinkedIn colleagues, or Facebook friends into new business?
  • Do you blog regularly about issues in your job/industry?
  • Have you participated in any internal employee innovation contests at your company or external innovation contests? Which ones?

This list is either a threat or an opportunity depending on your mindset. Many people are still reluctant to blog and are yet to embrace the power of an online brand. For those few who do this well, there is an enormous opportunity to differentiate yourself.

While we are not there yet, my bet is that as competition for non-STEM jobs increases dramatically in the next five years your ability to shine in these aspects will be critical.

5. Lifelong learning will be a business requirement

Not true yet, but you can see it will be by 2020. Already people accept that they won't be retiring much before the age of 70 and perhaps beyond. I suspect that both lifelong learning and lifelong wellness will be a massive competitive advantage for job candidates in the future.

Again this prediction should be a concern for many people. While we know we need to keep learning and stay fit, few people seem to be acting on this knowledge.

I'm not sure if any of these comments resonated with you. The lessons I learned from revisiting Meister and Willyerd's predictions are:

1. Review my reputation capital. There is still more I can do to improve my online brand.

2. Look to convert more of my social media contacts into clients.

3. Establish a lifelong learning budget

4. Wellness - there is more I can be doing to stay fit and healthy.

I would be interested to hear from any readers on what predictions they might have for the 2020 workplace. It's a good debate to keep current.

Rob Davidson is the Founder and Director of Growth at Davidson. He started Davidson Recruitment in 1991 as a one man start-up, specialising in legal recruitment. Rob was instrumental in the development of the strategy to expand Davidson beyond the boundaries of Brisbane. He describes his main role in the business as ‘the thinker’ and he constantly searches local and international markets for growth opportunities. His role connects him to a myriad of recruitment industry leaders and he is passionate about creating a sustainable future for the industry through building better entrepreneurs.