Humanizing the future of work: What moves the dial.

This is the fourth and final installment in a series of four-write ups that takes a closer look at what it means to humanize the future of work. It is co-written by Hala Beisha, a transformation strategist with a focus on the human factor and based in Toronto and Natalija de Jesus, a strategic designer based in Munich.

Image credit: Laurenz Blickwedel

In this brave new world we have seen how intrinsic motivation and owning one’s career direction are the key to successful career iteration and longevity. This series examined a range of topics from the value of building trust, to why autonomy in the workplace matters. In this write-up we take a closer look at competency development and a number of the key forces impacting the future of work for years to come.

We found this quote by Thomas Friedman’s book, Thank you for Being Late. An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations to be particularly relevant: “There is a mismatch between change and the rate of change and our ability to enable citizens to get the most out of these accelerations and cushion their worst impact. The only way to retain life long working capacity is to engage in lifelong learning.”

The Bigger Picture

According to Klaus Schwab, advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the internet of things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, quantum computing and other areas are redefining industries and will continue to shape the world of work for many years to come.

The Value of Age Diversity

Strategies for the Inter-generational Workplace article highlights that members of the four generations currently in the workforce bring different influences and expectations to work. By understanding the areas of common ground, employers will be able to develop high performance workplace strategies. We need to remember that there is no one size fits all, and it will be up to each organization to lay out the groundwork for what that might look like.

Skills For the Future

The Institute for the Future identified a number of key competencies that will be in high demand in the age of AI and automation.

  1. Strong social and collaboration skills. Persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others will be more in demand than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment operation and control, according to the World Economic Forum, 2016.

  2. Situational adaptability. The ability to respond to unique and unexpected circumstances of the moment, as well as tasks that require both novel thinking and adaptability beyond that which is rote or rule-based.

  3. Higher level thinking. As smart machines take over routine jobs, there will be an increasing demand for those skills machines are not able to undertake, in particular thinking that cannot be codified, but is critical to decision making.

  4. Social intelligence. The ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions. Socially intelligent employees are able to quickly assess the emotions of those around them and adapt their words, tone and gestures.

  5. Cross-cultural competency. The ability to operate in different cultural settings. What makes a group truly intelligent is the combination of different ages, skills, disciplines, and working and thinking styles that members bring to the table.

The future may be uncertain and constantly changing, however one thing is evident. It is clear that now more than ever, organizations and individuals have access to a range of opportunities to grow, learn and iterate. Professionals looking to grow these nuanced non-technical competencies can choose to ask to work on stretch assignments, request to be included on interdisciplinary teams, immerse themselves in causes and projects outside of work that offer purpose and meaning. Organizations can also offer guidance to their employees on the best free online course to access, pad programs to tap into, real world design challenges that seek answers to complex problems, leadership labs and leadership coaching options. So the only question is. What is your next step?

Hala Beisha