Disruption continues to change life as we know it. The significant advances in digital technology over the last decade have given us much more flexibility and choice in our personal lives and at work. There is no doubt we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution with the rise of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and the sharing economy, but do organizations really understand what it means for the future of work.
As this disruption continues to advance at a rapid rate and ‘employee’ expectations continue to change, a new model for the future of work is fast emerging. It is important all businesses start contemplating the impact of this disruption and how they need to respond. There are three critical areas to start thinking about.
The Future Employee
The rise of the sharing economy is challenging the traditional definition of ‘employee’. While this is currently being debated by courts, governments and unions around the globe, what we do know is that new types of employment relationships are forming and a significant number of today’s jobs will be gone in the next 10 years. This means companies will need a different mix of talent and skills to succeed in the future.
It is hard to predict exactly what new jobs will be created in the next 10 years (who would have thought 10 years ago we would have a Chief Digital Officer), but to bridge the inevitable knowledge and skills gap that will occur as part of this disruption, it is essential for organizations to understand the types of skills and attributes they will need to succeed in the future. It is then a choice; provide existing employees with the right development opportunities to grow these skills and attributes or recruit these into the organization. For most organizations it is likely a combination of the two options.
This is even a challenge for universities who aim to equip students with the skills they need for the roles that will exist in the future. But with the rapid rate of disruption this model is also being challenged as during a four year degree a lot can change.
The future work environment will be one that combines the physical and virtual worlds
What is now required is a stronger partnership between universities and organizations to ensure students are job ready.
One thing we do know is that we are going to need employees who can work effectively with machines. This is going to re-define the definition of ‘team’.
The Future Work Environment
The future work environment will be one that combines the physical and virtual worlds. This is a significant shift from the physical office environment we know today. The ‘office’ of the future is fast becoming your home, a coffee shop or a shared collaboration space. In the future artificial intelligence will take care of mundane tasks and possible more based on the recent AI announcement from Google. Also with technology like the Microsoft HoloLens the physical location is becoming irrelevant.
Organizations are no longer restricted to accessing skills and talent in locations they have an office. Platforms such as freelancer.com is connecting organizations and talent across the globe, but how people complete tasks and work effectively as part of collaborative teams in these situations still requires more thought and most importantly a change in behavior of how we use the digital technologies now available to connect and work in a more virtual world.
The Employee Experience
Organizations have for many years put considerable effort into defining their client experience but there has been less (if any) focus on the employee experience. The employee experience in most organizations has just evolved over time with not too much thought. This is a missed opportunity and is one of the reasons organizations fail to deliver on their desired client experience as it is often forgotten that the employee experience is the client experience.
As we prepare to enter the fourth industrial revolution this is the perfect time for organizations to re-define both their client and employee experience. And ensure the two align! Involving clients and employees in this process is going to be critical in getting it right. Too often in the past a small internal support team will define these experiences and then tell the rest of the organization or their clients. We have enough evidence now to know this does not work.
As this new model for the future of work takes shape a strong partnership between the CIO and CPO in organizations is going to be critical as they help transition their companies and employees through this disruption. While it is the advances in digital technologies that in many cases is allowing this disruption to occur, we can’t forget that people are the agents of any transformation and without their input nothing will change.
Aurecon is a global engineering and infrastructure advisory companywhich brings ideas to life to design a better future. Privately owned by employees, Aurecon was formed in 2009 when Africon, Connell Wagner and Ninham Shand announced the formation of a new global group.