The Workforce of the Future

 
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A few weeks ago, I had the great honor to speak at the Macquarie University MBA Alumni Event in Hong Kong. I was part of the esteemed panel together with experts from Recruitment, HR and IT to discuss current and future workforce trends and to provide guidance on how professionals can stay competitive and advance their careers in tomorrow’s workforce. I’m humbled for the opportunity to share my 0.2 cents around the workplace of the future from a Millennial’s perspective.

To give you a flavor of what we discussed and shared as a panel, I have compiled my responses in this LinkedIn article.

Question: As predicted by Oxford University economists, 40% of jobs will have been lost to automation by 2050. Is this realistic or otherwise?

My Response: Automation has been changing the job landscape for many years. Routine jobs have declined and only non-routine jobs have continued to grow. The most famous study on job loss and AI by Frey and Osbourne predicts 47% of the workforce in danger. From my personal experience working in Shell, it is obvious that jobs required scope change due to automation. The loss are mainly for routine and repetitive activities with a pattern that can be programmed. Jobs that require high degree of creative and social intelligence (negotiation, care, empathy etc.) will unlikely be automated.

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Question: There’s no question that technology is drastically changing the way we work. What are the technology trends that you predict will have the greatest impact on how we work in the future? And what are some of the technologies that need to be adopted by organizations now in order to be competitive?

My Response: You couldn’t have stopped the 1st industrial revolution because if you chose to not participate, you would become irrelevant. People who learnt to operate the machines and those that invest or design the machines/processes benefited. Innovative people with entrepreneurial behaviors are best suited to survive transition, however retraining will be essential. This is where we see the Gig Economy booming which is enabled by technology especially smartphones (refer to infographic).

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Question: What do you foresee will be the impact to society of these advances in technology and changes in how we work?

My Response: Flexible working continues to be a feature of most Millennials’ working lives and is linked to improved organizational performance, personal benefit, and loyalty. The ability to work from various locations, reflect how rapidly technology is facilitating mobile working, and how employers are becoming increasingly comfortable. Offshoring jobs or part of jobs are quite dominant for activities that don’t require to be performed in specific work location or f2f personal communication.

Globally, 60% of Millennials say their employers have adopted flexible arrangements:

  • Flexible time: Employees choosing when they start/finish work
  • Flexible role: Employees choosing within certain guidelines, what they do as part of their job
  • Flexible recruitment: Offering different types of contracts
  • Flexible location: Employees choosing to work from office, home or other locations

Flexible work arrangements encourage greater levels of accountability and support greater productivity and employee engagement while enhancing their personal well-being, health, and happiness. Such arrangements are not simply nice to have, but strongly linked to improved performance and employee retention e.g. employees reward with loyalty. Accountability and flexibility are highly correlated; those working in the more flexible environments report higher levels of personal responsibility.

Survey suggests how millennials recognize the obvious potential benefits of automation in terms of productivity and economic growth; they also see it providing opportunities for value-added or creative activities, or the learning of new skills. Millennials recognize the potential for workplace automation to support more creative and expanded roles for millennials.

 

Question: A large proportion of the current workforce today is made up of millennials and there has been a fair amount of bad press regarding their levels of motivation and engagement etc. Many of these employees who currently fall into the ‘Millennial group’ will go on to be senior business leaders of the future. What is your advice to employers looking to engage, motivate and retain ‘Millennial ‘employees on this journey?

My Response:

We ended the panel conversation with a one-line takeaway about staying competitive in tomorrow’s workforce either as an employer or employee.

Leadership is not about Age. It's about Influence, Impact and INSPIRATION!