Do we really need to talk so much about the future of work?

Future of Work - Krystel Leal

There has never been so much talk about the future of work. We live in an age of technological acceleration and never has so much changed in such a short time.

Technology greatly influences the way we live.

Today we can order hot food that has just been made at our favorite restaurant and have it delivered to our doorstep.

We can call a private transport through an application. We can ask questions to our doctor via an application. We can work from anywhere in the world.

And, of course, technology has greatly influenced the way we view not only work but the workspace itself.

From traditional paper-cluttered offices, we migrated to open-space spaces and collaborative coworking spaces.

With all this change taking place, it is natural that more and more studies are emerging trying to understand what the work of the future will be like.

How will we be working in a few years?

Will we even have an office?

Will we work every day from the same place?

Before thinking about the work model itself, it is interesting to begin this reflection on what the work will be.

Future of Work: What will work be like in the future?

study by PwC conducted in 2017 estimated that 30% of UK workers are at risk of disappearing by 2030 because of automatism and technology.

Another study from the Institute For the Future in Palo Alto, also conducted in 2017, has some very interesting conclusions:

  • Today’s students are estimated to have had 8–10 different jobs by the time they are 38.
  • Not only will they have several jobs, but the tasks and services they will provide will be completely different from what they are studying for. It is estimated that about 85% of the jobs that today’s students will have in 2030 have not yet been invented.
  • Many of them will be freelancers — it is estimated that freelancers will account for 50% of the US workforce by 2020. In March 2019 it was estimated that freelancers already accounted for 35% of the US workforce.

However, I don’t think these statistics about the future of work should scare us. On the contrary, I believe they should serve to raise awareness among people and organizations to increase digital literacy.

We have reached a time when it is essential to develop personal skills that enable us to be fully ready for everything, even that which we don’t even know will exist.

Adaptability: the main keyword

Constant adaptability is what will make a good worker in the future. Critical thinking, knowledge about what we’re dealing with, and the ability to quickly adapt to the challenges ahead will be more than ever a crucial piece of success.

What paralyzes us and leads us to fear is ignorance. And that is why I think it is essential that each of us who wants to take an active part in this world of constant and rapid change and evolution must know what digital is.

Digital is the land on which we move daily as individuals, and it is urgent that we quickly (but intelligently) adapt to the changes that digital is bringing in our professional contexts.

The school system, at this time, does not respond to these needs. We continue to teach the same things in the same way as they were taught generations ago.

If the moment is so different compared to back then, the teaching process also needs to be different. Why hasn’t teaching changed that much?

If at the beginning of my school life I needed someone to tell me the story of Napoleon or to give me the best encyclopedia where I could read about it, today we have access to all the information about any historical moment at our fingertips, in seconds, and supplemented with video, audio, images or even games.

What is needed right now — for the ones that are still in school, but also every single one of us — is knowledge and learning on social and human skills, so we will be able to analyze change, critique the problem, and adapt to find a solution.

It is necessary to teach soft skills so that we can analyze everything that happened in the past and what is happening in the present so that each one of us can be fully prepared and adapted to the future.

In this process of adaptation, it is essential to understand the terrain on which we will move: digital.

Even with the best professionals in your company, even with the best degrees on your resume, if you don’t evolve your knowledge, what you know today or learned a few years ago in college will do little or nothing for a job that will be completely different tomorrow.

More than coworking spaces, remote work, flexible companies or digital nomadism, the future work model boils down to one big word: adaptability.

In a future that is less distant than you think, you will have to deal with the disappearance of many tasks that are part of your work today. I leave you with the reflection: If tomorrow your profession disappears, are you ready to react?

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