The nature of work is changing
As part of our March blog series, focusing on helping people manage change and uncertainty in the workplace, Business Psychologist Naomi Booth Wade writes about how the nature of work is changing.
As someone who is currently learning how to drive, I have realised how important and sometimes difficult it is, to effectively navigate through a constantly changing environment. I believe this ability can also be applied to the workplace.
Technology, our workplaces and workforces are changing, and the factors driving these changes are accelerating. Similar to when two lanes must merge into one, old ways of working are coming to an end and organisations must move into new ways of working in order to be successful. Those who move first will become experts at optimizing the use of technology and understanding their people, leaving slow movers behind.
Here’s what you might expect to see in the future and some tips on how to make sure you’re in the right lane.
Changes in technology, workforces and workplaces
Technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are increasing. A survey by World Economic showed that people expect AI to be part of company boards of directors by 2026. However, only 17% of global executives report that they are ready to manage a workforce with people, robots, and AI working side by side (Global Human Capital Trends survey). The future of successful work will be about blending automation and people in workforce design. For example, using technology to increase revenue per employee and developing workforce technical and interpersonal skills. Research by Deloitte in the UK found that the future workforce will require a “balance of technical skills and more general purpose skills such as problem solving skills, creativity, social skills, and emotional intelligence.”.
In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, employees will have unprecedented power. “They will increasingly disregard today’s notions of hierarchy, will expect to be treated as a valuable asset to be invested in, and will require the opportunity to solve problems autonomously…They will also be less loyal; if they aren’t learning, they are leaving” says Brandon Atkinson, chief people officer at AppNexus, a cloud-based platform for programmatic online advertising.
In order to manage these changes, it is important that organisations align their skillset to keep pace. Future leaders are likely to require skills in personalisation, flexibility and agility. Leadership capability will become more complex and the importance of understanding emotional intelligence, personality and VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) will increase. Successful organisations will be able to effectively adapt to change, understand and evaluate employee developmental needs, predict how employees will respond to change, develop a coaching culture and build resilience and capability (to name a few).
Here are some quick tips to help you adapt effectively to upcoming changes in the workplace:
- Challenge how the core work actually gets done
- Identify non-human and human workforce tasks
- Ensure that the new scope of the augmented workforce aligns with business strategy and involves full participation by workers.
- Invest in human skills for the future workforce
- Plan and manage the workforce transformation using clear project plans.
Top 10 skills in 2020 (Future Jobs Report, World Economic Forum)
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgment and decision-making
- Service orientation
- Cognitive flexibility
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