Future of work thread (via Work Talk Research)

I came across a tweet this evening from Stowe Boyd (@stoweboyd), a blogger, and decided to share my own thoughts (a copy of which is set out further down this post), on the topic of:

What are the ten (or so) most important themes or trends in the future of work, today?

There’s a good discussion developing, and I’ll be interested to see where it ends up (Stowe Boyd is using his site to crowdsource some thoughts on the topic, and is planning to present an analysis in the next couple of weeks).

Stowe Boyd, runs a number of blogs, including “Work Talk Research“, where the ‘future of work’ discussion is being held:

“Work Talk is an independent research cooperative, involving me, Stowe Boyd, and an evolving network of contributors and partner companies.”

I left the following comment, which I wanted to share here also. My comment was intended as succinct ‘off-the-cuff’ thoughts – each of the points below could be expanded into much more detail (many, many books have been written on these sort of topics), and I’m sure there are lots of other great considerations – hopefully Stowe Boyd’s efforts (and the efforts of those joining in the discussion) will uncover, and elaborate many of them.

Some rough thoughts on possible important themes or trends in the future of work today:

1) Generation Y (and Z, etc.): Changing mix in workplace, with Generation Y attitudes/expectations permeating the workforce (plenty of discussion of what this is on the web, so I won’t repeat here)

2) “War-for-talent” versus “Jobless recovery” paradox: Companies are getting more demanding; while the pool of people available to them grows, they become more selective, and chase a declining niche group of candidates (the other side of the coin – companies perceive success to be genetic/pre-destined come a certain age, or just that training is too expensive or too difficult, to achieve the top skills being demanded)

3) Technology (but not yet): PCs penetrated most workplaces, but smartphones and tablets are still in many ways a gimmick/luxury toy (while many employees have them, they’re not yet being used to their full potential, but that will come)

4) Mobility: It can only increase; rent is becoming an expensive luxury, and increasingly unnecessary as technology enables more collaborative working beyond the physical workplace and it becomes costly to transport people to physically work together (the workplace becomes virtual); this will create a need to re-define “social glue” (what bonds are formed, and how, to maintain an organizational culture / home – what will make people want to stay?) – just as internet dating has helped millions bridge the relationship gap in their private lives, it may become necessary to find more social reasons to help co-workers network, and build meaningful bonds …)

5) Diversity: Cultural prejudices are being eroded by competitive nature and profit maximisation (and also by developing social norms) – the best people aren’t in your own market, or of your own creed

One further point – I’d like to think that passion, and creativity are becoming more demanded skills, but I can’t tell whether this will be the case going forwards. Will future ‘workers’ be more focused on the corporate mindset, undertaking tasks given to them, aiming to meet the expectations of shareholders, or will they instead be encouraged and incentivized to unleash their creative potential? (I present these alternatives as mutually exclusive, as they often seem to be today, but many consider that creativity is the solution to longer-term sustainability, and ultimately profitability). Whether there is a theme or trend relating to this, I don’t yet know – innovation is a common buzzword, but it is real?

Any thoughts?  Feel free to go and join the discussion on Stowe Boyd’s site.

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