Are you ready for the future of work?

Monday, April 18, 2016 - 18:04

By Laura Pearce at wattsnext

Unless you have a crystal ball, you truly don’t know what the future holds, especially when it comes to business.  However as a result, organisations have become deeply conditioned to just think in 12 month cycles, long term is 3-5 years. Governments look at their term and how to get voted in, over long term policy. We are conditioned to look at the immediate future. Well here is a prediction to start making you think differently; 

40 per cent of today’s jobs in Australia will disappear in the next 10 to 20 years and 40 per cent of organisations are at risk of not surviving.

And the reason for the bleak figures? Research into the future of work shows automation and artificial intelligence will inherit the jobs currently done by humans.  The impact on the future of many jobs, industries and organisations will be immense!

Longer term planning has become critical if you wish to survive and ultimately thrive in the future of work. It’s no longer an option to think that this is not something that you don’t need to worry about in your working lifetime. Lynda Gratton, one of the world’s leading researchers on the future of work explains; whatever your age, one of the most critical questions you face is how the future of work will develop and the impact on you and the organisations where you work. If you are now aged 30, you can expect to work for the next 40 years – that means in 2050 you will be still in the workforce. If you are 50, you can expect to be actively employed for another 20 years, that’s 2030. If you have young children, they could be working until 2070. 

So how do you start preparing yourself and your organisation for the new world of work? 

Let’s really start talking about the future - Mainstream dialogue about the ‘future of work’ is not really talking about the future.  Much of the discussion fixates on our changing routines: flexible working arrangements, team or organisation structures, employee engagement or generational changes.  Let’s face it these topics are not ‘futuristic’ anymore! The dialogue needs to shift to how jobs, industries and organisations are going to start adopting and adapting with new technologies.

Never stop learning, reinvention is key for survival –The new model for future workers will be where we continue to learn and develop new skills throughout our entire career. It is predicted that we will have many careers and we will be constantly changing our direction. Learning and constantly reinventing ourselves is the key for survival. As Ruth Finkelstein of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Centre said, ‘one dose of education that you get in the first 20 years of your life simply couldn’t be adequate for the next 90 years. It’s preposterous on the face of it’.

Empathy is key, we are still human - Empathy in particular has been highlighted as the critical skillset of the 21st century. Empathy has many different definitions including caring for other people and having a desire to help them; experiencing emotions that match another person's emotions; discerning what another person is thinking or feeling; and making less distinct the differences between the self and the other.  There will always be jobs where humans prefer to deal with humans and the key to success for many people will be in building these skills. Let’s hope it is unlikely robots will ever be able to mimic empathy.

Constant change is the new normal for work, the pace of change will only increase from now on as we enter into the future of work. Resistance is not an option unless you want to be one of those statistics.  

Laura Pearce brings over a decade of experience in high level HR problem solving, focused on her passion for developing innovative people solutions. Laura has a genuine desire to provide real results for companies providing truly commercial outcomes for all of her clients.