This article is part of our June series about the future of work. Click here for more.
Technology is changing the way that people get hired, how they do their work, and the skills they need to get the job 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, paint a picture of a technology-empowered workforce where automation frees employees from the mundane and enables them to be more creative and effective at their jobs.
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.
Abhijit Bhaduri, Founder, Abhijit Bhaduri & Associates:
Technology is making rapid inroads into the way business is done today. That means a lot of rules that existed before will now have to be reimagined.
In the next five to six years, reskilling the workforce will become a part of the board’s agenda. And the individuals’. Being able to have a skilled workforce on demand will force organizations to keep investing in building an ecosystem of skilled workers. Some of them may be employees, but a larger proportion of them will be outside the organization. That is because skills will become obsolete faster than organizations will be able to train employees.
This is where the gig economy will come into play and provide an advantage to the individuals who are able to constantly reskill themselves. Even more in demand will be those leaders who can teach others. Such leaders are inspiring role models who are curious to explore the ever-changing world. They also have the courage to admit that they do not know everything. Once they have learned something, they teach others as a way to reinforce their own learning.
The future of work belongs to those who can learn and teach others.
Seth Solomons, NA CEO, Wunderman:
When I think of what makes Wunderman so unique, it comes down to our deep experience in the areas of data, communications, and technology. Our ability to custom-build a system for making and distributing work that is both effective and efficient is the key to running a high-quality, profitable agency business now and for years to come.
The future, however, will require new thinking, new structures, and new strategies. Most leaders think their companies are prepared for the future, but the reality is that most of them aren’t investing enough to be ready for what the future has in store. It’s a top-down, all-in commitment that starts with a set of new realities. Within these new realities are new opportunities for us to add value and build trust with clients.
If we’re to be the place clients turn to for whatever work they need, we must continue to build a culture focused on talent, where our people can learn and grow and, most importantly, thrive. I try to lead with positivity to drive change. While there is some level of uncertainty, I believe we have many reasons for hope and optimism. Once the right tools and people are in place, there are no limits.
Yvette Montero Salvatico, Partner, Kedge LLC:
We see the emergence of a people cloud. The concept of the cloud is actually an acronym for us that stands for collaborative, linked, open, ubiquitous, and disruptive. We are obviously becoming more collaborative as a society, whether we are sharing bikes, etc., and talent is no different. Access to assets is going to trump ownership in the future.
When it comes to “L” for linked, our networks are going to link us in ways we have never imagined. For example, with technologies like blockchain, we will be able to completely facilitate transactions peer-to-peer like never before.
And then, of course, is openness (“O”), which started with the open-source movement. People want to be able to access each other and information a lot more easily, and that is already being facilitated by technology and these linked networks.
With the “U,” we’re talking about ubiquity and the ubiquitous nature of the people cloud. That is, of course, all about technology, such as AI, mobile, and wearables, which is allowing us to create workspaces and connect with people anywhere and anytime in the world.
Last but not least, the people cloud is really disruptive (“D”). We tell companies all the time they should be hiring entrepreneurs, partners, and individuals who can come in and tell them how their systems can be broken and how they need to be reimagined to be successful in a really volatile and uncertain world.
We need to stop planning for the future of work and really start creating it today. Companies need to be able to equip employees with the ability to be more adaptive, resilient, and transformative so that they can be ready, no matter what the future unfolds.
Freddie Laker, Founding Partner, Chameleon Collective:
In the next 15 years, the two biggest changes for marketers, and also office workers, in general, will be driven by an accelerated shift to a distributed model of working, as well as the positive impacts of artificial intelligence.
Already, technology is enabling companies to leverage distributed workforces that are more specialized, virtual, and on-demand. As ultra-high-speed internet connections, high-quality video, and, eventually, augmented/virtual reality become more prevalent, the need to be in-person will become increasingly unnecessary. Simultaneously, new types of companies are emerging that move beyond platforms that will attract more senior-level executives to join the gig economy.
AI will play a positive role in many jobs because it will act as a virtual partner to enhance productivity. From basic communication to enhanced decision-making, AI will aid their human counterparts, allowing them to operate at an optimized level that delivers far beyond typical output from career-driven professionals.