At WNDYR we believe that in order to survive the future, we, the humans, need to define our role in the second machine age. The future of work is...
There’s a lot of talk about future work skills, but how do they apply to your company?
When we talk about future work skills, we’re talking about how people will need to adapt to make the most of technology moving into the future of work, and how it will impact everything from where we work, how we communicate, and who (or what) we communicate with.
This isn’t an attempt to cover all global industries, but there’s no doubt that all of these will be influenced by changing technologies, whether you’re working behind a desk or managing the growth and harvesting of crops.
Future Work Skills Insight #1: It’s going to be chaotic
Chaos doesn’t necessarily imply the disorder that comes with the common understanding of the term. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.
Our definition of chaos, discussed by Claire Burge in her TedX Athens talk earlier this year, is that it’s actually intrinsically about order. It’s just that it’s not always easy to understand the complexity of a chaotic system.
For example, a remote work force is a kind of chaos, where everyone works independently and communicates in their own way (or not), with other members of the team using messaging applications and other communication tools. If we had to make a visual map of all of this communication, it would probably seem overwhelmingly chaotic, but really, there’s an underlying order and reason for the ways people communicate, and when, and what they talk about.
Like the analogy of a playground suggests, it’s about creating a framework in which this chaos can operate in the most beneficial way. On a granular level this means setting up guidelines to structure internal communication in a way that allows for innovation and growth within a company, with some banter in between. So really, we being open to the concept of chaos as an important part of thinking about the future of work, and not being too prescriptive about control and set roles and responsibilities.
Future Work Skills Insight #2: You’re going to have to constantly reinvent yourself
The Institute for the Future (IFTF), for the University of Phoenix Research Institute, is an organisation that has worked for over forty years to forecast trends. Based in Palo Alto, California, The IFTF works to provide insight into what is influencing global change, which includes the changes that are going to affect our concept of work, and the skills we will need to thrive in the future workplace.
According to the IFTF’s research:
Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future.
At WNDYR, we know that our focus needs to shift to be able to serve the customers of the future. We’ve talked about our approach to Human Acceleration before, and the IFTF’s research really expands on the research we have already done into the kinds of skills that will be in demand in the future, as we examine current trends in thinking.
To narrow it down, the IFTF recognises six drivers of change, and to respond to these, we’ll need to adapt with certain competencies. These competencies are the following:
- Sense Making: while AI will take on rote tasks, we’ll be needing people to step up to make decisions with the kind of intelligence machines haven’t been able to replicate.
- Social Intelligence: operating in a group took thousands of years to happen- those skills are still necessary in a work environment.
- Novel and Adaptive Thinking: AI can perform rote tasks and follow rules, but it can’t come up with new and interesting ideas like people can.
- Cross-Cultural Competency: being able to adapt to a foreign environment is one thing, but as diversity continues to be a core driver of innovation, being able to operate in environments with people from different backgrounds will be the key to success.
- Computational Thinking: with infinite data available to guide our decision-making, we’re going to need people who can make sense of it.
- New Media Literacy: clear communication, across a variety of platforms, will be critical in an increasingly interconnected world.
- Transdisciplinarity: Being able to work across a range of roles will be a distinct advantage in a world where problems are complex.
- Design Mindset: as we understand more about how our brains work, we’ll need to be able to design environments more conducive to effective thinking and working.
- Cognitive Load Management: our brains are having to process more information than ever before, so being able to deal with vast amounts of data is crucial.
- Virtual Collaboration: as geographic location becomes irrelevant for certain kinds of work, forming productive relationships with colleagues around the world will be essential.
In addition to upskilling for the forecasted future workplace, businesses and individuals will also need to adapt and constantly be reinventing themselves. Because just as we’re analysing these predictions now, there are only going to be more in the years ahead.
What are your thoughts on the future of work and what you and your business will need to adapt? Share your thoughts in the comments below: