Adapting to the future of work

Image: Alina Sofia

You hear it today all the time, older people are constantly worried because they can’t keep up with change in technology and they always feel that their job is at risk. There will come a day when you and I will be the older people in the room. Heck, I am only 25 years old and sometimes, I am the older person in the room.  I find that along as you are aware of a possible problem, you can take steps ahead of time to avoid those problems.

In order to understand the future of employment and future work practices one has to first understand the reasons for the current practices and the ‘future of work.’ The former can be understood by asking questions like ‘Why are cubicles necessary?’, ‘Why are the work timings 9 to 5?’ and so on. In order to understand the latter, one has to ascertain the meaning of working in an organization and the different aspects of that organization. These points will help both the employers and the employees understand the future of employment.

Presented below are a few points about how work may change in the future and what employees can do to stay abreast of the challenges and avoid them in the future.

  • Automation: Technological advances means that routine jobs, manual labor, etc. are going to be automated even more than now. Humans are going to be more involved in creative activities and innovation. Robots will not be able to replace interpersonal interactions and relationships. It is therefore important to develop social skills to sustain oneself in the workforce of the future. Higher education and learning new technologies and skills on technical as well as interpersonal levels can make you indispensable.
  • Changes in workplace structures: The inflexible corporate ladder will be a thing of the past. Employees will be able to move and grow laterally, or in a zigzag manner. Career paths and ideas are going to be free flowing. Technological advances has resulted in a more flexible and cooperative working environment with the layers of management hurdles being a thing of the past. Now, workers can directly pitch to the CEO in some companies. In such workplaces, employees can build up their network, attain new and transferable skills, and try out different roles and experiences to keep pace with the rapid changes in employment.
  • Increased workplace monitoring: Technologies advances have made it easier for employers to monitor their employees in all aspects of life. Employers can monitor the location, activities, health, and psychological state, etc., of their employees via varied social networks, devices, and apps. All aspects are going to be monitored in the future as companies want increased productivity. Any kind of health problems can affect productivity and job prospects. So it is important for you to keep fit, exercise, and stay healthy to remain a part of future workforce.
    • It may also be noted that just like credit ratings, employers will check the then easily accessible health, relationship, and other personal details before hiring workers.
  • Increased skilled/unskilled workforce of freelancers: People all over the world are increasingly becoming freelancers. People do not want to travel to work, want flexible working hours, and often prefer offices to be at good locations that are easily commutable. And freelancers do not work as per a set wage system. Employees need to attain all kinds of advanced skills to be able to compete with this new workforce of freelancers, keep their jobs, and prevent a race to the bottom (as far as wages are concerned).
  • Retirement: Due to higher life expectancy, people may not retire at 65. So the competition is going to keep intensifying at the bottom. Staying healthy and learning new skills will ensure that you continue being a part of the future workforce even after turning 65.