Many organisations are concerned, yet unsure, about how to best prepare for the brave new world we live in and the new ways of working that are required. The routine and predictable is being automated, specialist and intermittent work is being outsourced and pressure is on to attract, retain and inspire informed employees in an employee driven market. There’s a bit to do…
So, where do you start? The challenges facing your business or profession will vary, depending on what you do and where you do it. We don’t know exactly how we will all be impacted by automation and augmented intelligence in all its forms; nobody seems to have a crystal ball. Having said that, there are some of the things you can be focusing on to help you and your organisation transition to new ways of working.
The need for ‘human’ skills
As technology does what it does, humans need to focus on what they can uniquely and naturally do as well. Through gaining a greater understanding of self and building emotional intelligence, employees will be empowered to apply the core skills organisations will need to lead others, think innovatively and support everyone through sustained change. Leadership – personal and organisational – will be more important than ever.
As humans we value the personal touch. We naturally want to feel connected to others and valued; it’s actually necessary for us to survive. As a society we are also moving back to placing value on hand-made, bespoke products which also demonstrates our desire to connect with the creative human in each of us. The Deakin “Enabling the future of work” report suggests “It is slightly ironic that in parallel with, and in part because of, the rapid development of technology, the world has seen a greater emphasis on the ‘human experience’”. We will need to embrace diversity and actively create environments of ‘belonging’ in order to get the best from all our people.
Self-awareness, emotional intelligence, growth mindset and empathy can all be learnt and expanded. Neuroscience tells us the human connection creates real chemical changes in the brain, fostering trust and enabling us to work collaboratively towards a common purpose. If you aren’t expanding this capability within yourself or your organisation as yet, you definitely should be.
Automation of predictable tasks and processes is impacting more and more organisations, and the challenge of empowering employees to leverage and work with technology is a concern. Some people will be threatened by the changes to the way we perform our work and the reason our roles exist, while others will be excited by the opportunity to achieve more in their roles with the support of technology.
“Human work will become more versatile and creative. Robots and people will work more closely together than ever before. People will use their unique abilities to innovate, collaborate and adapt to new situations” (http://theconversation.com/introducing-operator-4-0-a-tech-augmented-human-worker-74117)
Understanding of the potential upside of this shift is important, as is the right mindset. Employers can play a big role in helping employees learn how to get the best of out of the right technology and how to maximise their personal skillsets to complement this.
Technology and other factors are impacting our ways of working and will continue to do so. Work is an anywhere, anytime process for many employees and organisations that can offer personalised flexibility will be attractive to top talent. Flexibility is not a one-size fits all approach and technology empowers a whole gamut of options for employees to deliver on the core purpose of their role.
The Commonwealth Bank “Jobs and skills of the future report” states “All knowledge-based work can be performed anywhere, with crowdsourcing tapping into the best workers globally. In addition, physical tasks are increasingly being performed remotely”. A shift for employers from the 9-5 mentality, to focusing on necessary role outcomes will further enhance how we ‘do’ flexibility and indeed how we think about work itself.
Who is a ‘worker’?
Linked to the growing desire for ‘working our own way’ is a wave of outsourcing, freelancing, contract and other engagement types. My view is that this contingent way of working will be our new norm, although not all organisations are comfortable with what this may mean. Often there can be a difference to the way people are treated, depending on their method of engagement with an organisation. Clever organisations know that treating all people as valued contributors is the recipe for the best outcome. If you engage people in different ways you may want to consider how you can best bring together this diverse group and maximise the potential for your organisation.
So, in summary, start with some of the following actions:
- Seek to build emotional intelligence and self-awareness, fostering an environment where people feel supported and safe.
- Expand leadership capability and actively develop the communication and core skills required to lead your people.
- Encourage and facilitate an environment of continuous learning and a growth mindset. Prepare your people to be adaptable and creative.
- Review how you think about flexibility and look to establish an environment where a variety of methods of engagement allow workers and the organisation to succeed.
- Set your organisation up for success by accessing the best talent and utilising a contingent, flexible workforce.