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Technology is changing the way people get hired, how they do their work, and the skills they need to get their jobs done.
But what exactly will the workplace of the future look like? We posed that question to a group of industry thought leaders. Their responses, below, reflect a technology-empowered workforce where automation frees employees from the mundane and enables them to be more creative and effective at their jobs.
David Armano, Global Strategy Director, Edelman
I think one of the biggest changing dynamics in the workplace is the shift from leadership in the form of formal authority to leadership by influence. We now have a workforce where Millennials are fully integrated and Gen Z is on the way. While both generations share different traits, they have both grown up in a world that feels a bit flatter due to the way technology connects us and allows for immediate response and all kinds of ways of collaborating. Millennials gravitate to leaders who are accessible, relatable, and authentic. Millennial employees also have built-in BS detectors and thrive on regular feedback, interactions, and input.
This is where leadership through influence comes in—it’s less about “do this because I’m your boss” and feels more like peers working together toward a common goal. Leaders who lead with influence bring teams along by making the case for where the team must go and rolling up their sleeves to help get there. It’s less command and control and more inspire and influence. Increasingly, employees are looking for meaning in their work in addition to things like work-life balance and the ability to influence up, down, and with peers can go a long way in keeping teams motivated and inspired.
Donna Morris, EVP, Customer And Employee Experience, Adobe:
A day doesn’t go by without another prediction that highlights the influence of technology on jobs. However, one thing is certain: We are in a period of unprecedented change.
While some of the best jobs of the future simply don’t yet exist, the need for uniquely human skills, such as demonstrating emotional intelligence, empathy, creative problem-solving, intellectual curiosity, and the ability to adapt will remain important to job growth and stability for years to come.
Ongoing education, exposure to different cultures, developing and maintaining a diverse network of peers, and proactively seeking out feedback will allow you to hone these skills. Regardless of how future technologies will impact the workplace, demonstrating these abilities will serve you well for building a long, prosperous career.
Brian Solis, Principal Analyst And Futurist, Altimeter, A Prophet Company
I’ll leave the tech scenarios to everyone else. I’d like to talk about what I think the future of work should look like from two critical and understated lenses: culture and employee experience. In my research into digital transformation and enterprise innovation, “culture” was often cited as a top impedance and also leading catalyst. At the same time, I learned that employee morale is still a constant factor with 53% of workers saying they are “not engaged.” More so, when I was writing my book “Lifescale,” I learned that connected employees are also actively (and increasingly) struggling with digital distractions and even addiction.
This is having an incredible impact on employee productivity and total output. The future of work should focus on people first, modernizing HR from “human resistance” to true human resources. AI and machine learning are already automating everyday jobs we thought safe from technology. Employees schooled in legacy ways of working are finding their current skillset outdated, requiring help in reskilling and also unlearning to gain modern, valuable expertise. The future of work needs a Ctrl-Alt-Del, a new architecture, and a new purpose. Innovative technology, open work spaces, ping pong tables aren’t enough. To do so takes vision, leadership, and empathy. Employees need to be incentivized to take on new responsibilities and encouraged to work in new ways. Culture and employee engagement is more important than ever before.
Zak Dabbas, Co-Founder And CEO, Punchkick Interactive
The future of work will be about dismantling antiquated structures and working in ways that are more open, diverse, efficient, and healthy, for both companies and employees. At Punchkick, we’re deeply committed to a flat structure with no managers, and instead operate in self-organized, client-facing project teams. The reduction in politics and hierarchy means individuals solve problems effectively and contribute to a culture that is close-knit and supportive. This nimble approach also lets us adapt to a swiftly changing digital landscape.
As technology changes at an accelerating pace, we need to learn and adapt just as quickly. Tools like augmented reality, machine learning, and voice-based user interfaces often seem gimmicky until suddenly they’re mainstream, and at that point it’s too late to catch up. And in 2019, catching up on tech isn’t even as much a goal as leapfrogging the competition entirely with the next big thing. It’s critical that all employees at all companies think about how their roles might change, because they will, and adaptability is a prized asset for a team member and an office culture.
Lars Asbjornsen, SVP Of Marketing, Upwork
Marketing as an industry has seen tremendous change over the past decade. Innovations in technology and data science are changing the skills required for marketers, which have become increasingly more complex. You only have to look at the rise of marketing technology and social media to see just how quickly this trend has accelerated. As marketers attempt to digitally transform their organizations, they face increasing difficulties finding highly skilled people to support marketing initiatives. As a result, marketing leaders are reassessing what the marketing function will entail, and the people needed to grow the function in the future.
Marketing teams need to be prepared for innovation. This means they must assemble the right teams and plan ahead effectively. In the next five years, marketers will lead the charge in driving the future workforce by embracing flexible, remote teams and investing in training and upskilling on new marketing technologies. Marketing leaders will be instrumental in driving organizations to be more customer and market focused, more adaptive and agile to change. This will require leaders to become adept in shifting business priorities in the moment, while also keeping long-term goals in mind.