The Future of Work: Success Comes From Within
Do you know why rabbits are easier to hunt at night?
Upon seeing the light of a torch, they become momentarily paralysed, giving hunters enough time to shoot with a rifle.
Why am I telling you this interesting yet disturbing fact?
I think it is a great metaphor for how we see the future of work, how we react and what might happen to us if we prepare for possible changes.
There is so much discussion about what the future of work will look like, how it will affect us and how it will change our working lives. So much so that we often don’t know where to start as individuals and therefore we stay the same with the hope that it will not affect us nor change our hopes for the future.
We become paralysed and vulnerable, converting us into victims of whatever might happen next.
Jobs, employees, and workplaces will change dramatically in the next few years and macro-economic trends are set to greatly influence the future of work. Some examples are globalisation with its consequences and risks, shifts towards sustainability in business, population growth and new generation needs, a rise of emerging economies, AI, and digitalisation.
New tensions and contradictions will be created and as organisations and people, we need to think about how we will respond to the uncertainty.
Shifts in work and the way we work are not new. They have always changed throughout human history and we have always adapted to these changes so we will be able to adapt again.
Adaptation can be a painful process and failing to adapt to the, mostly unknown, changes which lie ahead may mean we find ourselves outside the labour market.
Some changes are driven by the following trends:
- Business will grow at a slower pace and there will be more need for companies to be highly agile. We cannot trust organisations to be our guaranteed employer for the next 5-10 years or longer, or for them to provide long-term career security.
- As our life span increases and the future of pensions is in doubt, our working lives will also increase.
- Working life will also be even more dominated by technology in years to come providing us with both challenges and opportunities including development in robots, mobile technology, harnessing collective intelligence and the endless possibilities of social media.
- Organisation design will be reshaped:
- We will find ourselves working in organisations where objectives will be achieved primarily through partners and external contributors rather than permanent employees.
- Both virtual and flat organisations will exist and replace hierarchies with more fluid project teams.
- We will also work in multigenerational and multinational teams with differing values, competencies, methods of communication and ways of working.
- There will be even more of a proliferation of flexible working hours, which will also mean that work could be done anywhere, anytime helping create necessary boundaries to avoid burnout and reinforce the need for a meaningful career.
With that being said, the world of work will change and we will change with it even if we are not immediately aware.
In order to make the most of it, we need to open our minds and discover which areas are in our power to influence and control.
Why am I telling you all this? Because, there will be implications for us individuals on how we view and perceive work.
We need to take ownership of the role we want to play in all of these trends as well as responsibility for how we feel, how we will react and how we choose our future.
It is increasingly common to feel like we are losing control of our behaviour, feelings and thought processes. We end up feeling that this is normal until we realise that someone else is taking control of our lives instead of us and the result is to feel like a victim of an unfair society.
We must try to avoid situations that ‘just happen’ and those which make us feel like puppets who have had their voice taken away.
It is necessary to be aware of how we perceive work and understand how our work is affecting us on a level beyond the financial aspect.
Beyond our formal education, there are other skills that are crucial for us to develop. Applying them will make us more proactive in the creation of our careers of the future.
The only person, who perfectly understands your work, knows what you want, and the skills you have is you.
Here are some tips for taking the lead and learning how to develop those crucial skills:
1. Be curious.
Curiosity is an intrinsic motivation to move forward. It moves us to action and propels us to accomplish more than we thought possible. Without this skill, we would feel stuck.
So, without any judgement or fear, ask yourself, “what if…”? Be brave enough at work to ask to do things you don’t know how to, try new things, be pro-active in meeting new people at work whom you find interesting.
Do things in an unconventional way just to get a new insight regarding your work. This will give you new insights and new answers that might not create an immediate outcome but will create the necessary neural connections that will facilitate the way you shape your work.
How? The more you create those connections, the easier it will be to learn more and you will eventually discover a path that will be your own and explore a new way to create your own future career.
2. Be open-minded.
One thing that always strikes me is that so many people avoid doing something, or judge certain situations because of preconceived ideas they have about people, environments or trends.
For example, I still struggle to understand the fascination that the younger generation has towards Influencers and YouTuber’s.
After lots of discussions with my children, I have started to develop a different point of view and see the power that these Influencers have.
If you find yourself neglecting a certain trend due to a lack of understanding it or because initially you don’t agree with it. Take a step back, ask more questions try to understand, try to recognise the power and potential benefits, and only after should you make a decision to reject or accept the idea.
3. Get to know yourself.
Know what you value, what’s important to you and what you are not prepared to sacrifice.
In our future of work, expressing your desires will make it more likely to achieve what you want and will lead to less internal conflicts as your external actions are in line with your true feelings and values.
Understand your strengths and work on them even further. By acknowledging what makes you thrive, what you’re good at and what puts you in “the zone”, you will be able to make better decisions for the future.
Getting to know yourself is like a roadmap to help you learn how to face the future and your reaction to it.
4. Be aware of what you have and cherish it.
By priming yourself to be grateful for what you have, you will start to come across even more situations that you value and cherish.
This will open your mind to search for opportunities and paths that provide you with this outcome. If you are currently happy in your work, don’t think that that is it.
Be aware of the particular aspects you love about your job and consciously search for more of those aspects in your work and everyday life.
For example, if you become inspired by some coworkers, search for more opportunities to talk to them or look for other similar people that might inspire you.
Our Emotional Salary Barometer can guide you through exactly this. We want everyone to recognise what they can be grateful for at work and how to create more of it.
5. Be aware of what you don’t have and actively search for it.
This is the opposite of the last point. Be aware of what may be missing in your professional environment and search for it in your organisation.
If you don’t find it there, search for it outside your organisation. With social media at our fingertips, there are zero excuses to network and find like-minded people to show you new insights and possibilities.
This is easier said than done of course but the future of work will depend on our ability to search for what we want and go get it.
Our time is filled with numerous distractions, temptations, sounds, feelings of “needing to answer this message immediately”, and bad habits that cause us to lose time and control over what needs to be done.
If you want to be able to shape your own future paths you will need to resist bad habits and develop good ones that help you focus on your goal.
With time, you will develop self-control and not fall into the trap of being constantly distracted. I am not saying to stop answering emails or to stop using social media. Not at all. I am advocating for staying in control of how you spend your time.
Train yourself to stay focused on a task. Even in this era of hyper-communication and ‘immediateness’ we still need to invest time and energy in mastering our skills and talents and this can only be done if we remain focused.
We will need to constantly ask ourselves, what am I gaining from this. What is my benefit? If you don’t ask yourself this question, someone else will be benefit from you not taking control of how you spend your time.
7. Be flexible and get used to constant re-invention.
No one knows for certain what the future of work will look like but what we do know is that if we want to succeed we will have to remain flexible until we find a role that makes us feel happy and complete – this is usually one where you can see yourself growing and flourishing in.
More and more often, I see people changing careers such as Marketing Director turned Yoga Instructor, or Project Manager turned School Teacher.
You define what works for you.
The key is to remain flexible, open to change and willing to regularly go the extra mile and play outside of your comfort zone.
8. Learn, learn, learn.
Universities and schools will soon be unable to satisfy the needs of the future labour market and we will need to adjust to the collision between reality and expectation.
Additionally, the durability of a learned business competency has decreased from 30 years in 1984 to 5 years in 2014 and it is still declining.
Undoubtedly, careers of the future will not only be built on what you learned, but also on your interests as well as all the areas you are willing to learn more about.
This means that your future career depends on you; what you love, what you want to learn, and what you find interesting.
Do not allow yourself to be the night-time rabbit paralysed by external forces outside your control. It is imperative to feel empowered and recognise that it is up to each one of us to revise our new potential paths to be explored, what we want our future to look like, and how we want work to serve as a platform for us to grow and continuously develop.
Success in the future of work depends on us, so let’s start shaping our future! The Emotional Salary Barometer here is a great first step and it only takes 6 minutes or less to complete!
Marisa & Clodagh