The Future of Work is Bright

The Future of Work is Bright

Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining a Think Tank in San Francisco about The Future of Work. It brought together thought leaders from a variety of backgrounds, geographies and organizations, to discuss and debate what the future holds for all of us in the workforce – through the lens of people, technology and workplaces. I’ve outlined my top takeaways from the full day of discussions below. Stay tuned for additional videos, interviews and blogs in the coming weeks!

Optimism & changing the definition of work

  • The Future of Work is bright around the globe. There was a deep sense of optimism on what the future of work holds for employees: the sense that we can have more impact, create faster than ever before, take on new challenges and learn new skills will accelerate in the next 5 years.
  • The definition of career success is changing. The old model for success often meant working for a big company for 30+ years, and getting a gold watch retirement gift. Those days are over, led by the work patterns emerging with millennials. Workers will attach to a company or job for a time and they move onto something else once the satisfaction is gone or the job is complete. Employees get the freedom to experience new challenges and employers get the benefit of new and vibrant talent for their organization.
  • The balance of power shifts to the employee. As people become more and more independent, an increased focus on personal brand-building will take even more of a hold on recruiting or choosing who to work for. In the same way that an actor or athlete builds a brand that carries them from film-to-film or team-to-team, the idea of building a portfolio of skills that everyone takes with them is powerful and may be the way that we will measure success.
  • It’s not about work-life balance: it’s about life balance. Workers can do the work they love, make an impact and get paid for it.

New models for the workplace

The workplace of the future is about giving workers a palate of tools, and the spaces to unleash creativity and follow their passion. Whether you work from home, work in an open corporate space, or work in a café, the level of innovation and experimentation on how workspaces can and should evolve was a hot topic. The workplace will become more personalized and evolve into a space where anyone can design a working environment to their liking, whether that’s at home or in a grey space or in an office building.

For example, There’s a love for everything local. As the world flattens, there’s a risk of homogenization of space and a lot of companies are trying to break that mold by going local – bringing in local art, local food, local talent and really building a sense of culture, community and uniqueness within the company walls. And, once that rich community and culture is built, going out and impacting the local neighborhood with service and support is a key desire of the current and future generations who are already starting companies and establishing these mission statements.

Technology will re-shape the future of work

  • Appification of the enterprise needs to accelerate. Some of the critical pain-points discussed were that the majority of the line of business applications and productivity software, while shifting to the cloud, remain monolithic, silo’ed, and makes it too hard to mash-up the solutions really needed. And the opportunity for intelligent bots is (think about AI or “Siri for the knowledge worker” or “IFTTT for teams”) un-realized. Teams should have virtual assistants that automate the mundane work that stands in the way of faster creativity and time-to-impact. We’re seeing teams within the enterprise move with more agility, provisioning themselves with the apps needed to move fast, to create, and to collaborate. Of course there will still be company security and compliance, but workers will soon have much more flexibility in the tools they need to just get work done, how they want to do it.
  • Augmented reality goes much more mainstream. It’s not about the headset. Rather, the availability of lightweight wearables (i.e., glasses, contact lenses, nanobots, etc.) with just-in-time information will be critical to improving productivity. Alan Lepofsky from Constellation Research shared a vision that this tech advancement will refactor meetings with customers, partners and co-workers: instant access to the data helps us be more effective. The future of work is about enabling employees to follow their passion and these wearables will facilitate advanced communication and interaction.

Maybe the future of work is that we won’t have to work at all. We’ll just do what we’re passionate about and get paid for it.

To dive into “Work in Progress,” the Adobe Future of Work survey that Jeremiah Owyang mentioned, visit our blog post on Adobe Conversations.

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