Tigerspike recently attended a panel discussion on ‘The Future of Work’ in London run by the University of Technology, Sydney. The event opened with the statement:

“Technology is going to disrupt the professions of today to a level synonymous with that of the Industrial Revolution”

Provocative? Perhaps, but with the rapid advancement of technology set against the backdrop of an unstable geopolitical landscape, it rings true now more than ever. With such explosive changes underway, it’s important to be prepared. Below are our four key tips from the event to help us all survive the future of work.

1. Strengthen your soft skills

An appreciation for ‘human factors’ will become more and more valuable.

To prepare for this brave new world, the event panel cited that more traditional workplaces must evolve. As a business, if you’re still employing strictly hierarchical management structures (that were created back in the early 20th century) it’s time for change. To modernise their approach, businesses should operate like a web, or network, built of human-to-human relationships.

This approach is not of course without its own challenges. The problem with networked structures is there are infinite choices with a risk of decision fatigue; it is, however, an opportunity to leverage cross-industry experience accelerating individual and business maturity levels. To operate successfully in these fluid environments, the importance and value of industry-specific skills become second to soft skills such as communication, change management, interpersonal and team building skills. These soft skills are crucial to navigating the new work environments.

Our suggestion: If you want to start on the path to a new mindset you can deep-dive into how to form a “self-transforming mind”.

2. Fall in love with learning

Many jobs of the future will be similar to those of today but will incorporate various technologies to improve outcomes.

The panel then moved onto a discussion concerning predictions that large volumes of jobs will be stolen by robotics, automation and AI. The general consensus within the group was that, at least in the short to medium term, jobs would not disappear en masse. Instead, the consensus was the change would be that ‘parts’ of roles would be different as technology was adopted to improve outcomes. Although these changes are a disruptive but necessary force, we all require patience and empathy to help people be successful. These types of changes will require people to upskill and they should be given the support to do so.

Our suggestion: For those of you wanting take action now to upskill, there are a number of resources online.  Tools such as Mindtools can help you adapt in this evolving landscape. Also books such as Lisa Laskow Lahey’s and Robert Kegan’s Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization can be pivotal in changing your mindset and opening up new opportunities for you.

3. Design for humans. Everywhere

Employees need to be ‘designed for’ as much as (or even more than) your customers to ensure that technology is ultimately driving social wellbeing.

From an employer’s perspective surviving the future of work is as much about upskilling personally as it is about creating environments and businesses where people thrive. If technology is not used to improve people’s lives in some way, big or small, then why are we using technology to begin with?

“The event panel made the observation that the bias towards technological change is often positive, whereas in reality there are many challenges to face as well”

Our reptilian-brained aspects of resistance — and fear of change — are elements that technology alone cannot manage. One way that humans are being increasingly considered is through ‘Design Thinking’. The term Design Thinking has been popularised by businesses over the past few years as business leaders are coming to the realisation of the importance of design in their operations. This is often defined as a human-centered approach to innovation which is key as the promotion of empathy in business benefits everyone and should not be underestimated.

4. Remember, we’re in this together

A key takeaway from the event was that the responsibility and capability to shape the future of work sits with us all. It’s the people within businesses and importantly learning institutions, that are the catalyst for positive change. When the crowd asked about the top things that university had taught the panel the ‘human side of the future of work’ was a common theme. The panel highlighted that they grew in confidence during higher education to ask questions, make mistakes, learn and grow — all traits that are also important when evolving within the changing landscape of work.

University was also highlighted as giving people the ability to work within a diverse set of people. For some, the university was the first place they experienced mixed genders in an educational context. Interestingly, even ‘how to shake hands properly’ was raised as being an important skill that was acquired. On the surface, this appears light-hearted but actually underscored the current and future importance of human interactions and importance of soft skills that had been spoken about earlier in the evening.

Parting thoughts

The truth is, we should be doing more than just trying to survive. Learning shouldn’t be a chore; it should be embedded in our minds as the key to taking steps to being great.  We should all strive to become indispensable because improved confidence in your abilities will make the future of work less intimidating.

About the event

Josh Haagsma is Tigerspike’s Head of Delivery & Operations, Europe, and was the MC at the ‘Future of Work’ event arranged by the University of Technology, Sydney. The Keynote was delivered by Catherine Livingstone AO, Chancellor of the University of Technology, Sydney and renowned Australian business leader. She is also currently the chairperson of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Members of the panel included:

  • Attila Brungs, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Technology, Sydney
  • Jeremy Bassett, CEO of CO:CUBED
  • Supun King-Jayawardana, Head of London Innovation Lab, Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  • Myf Ryan CMO UK & Europe, Westfield