Redefining the Future of WorkBy Byron Amores | Mon, 03/01/2021 - 13:02
You may wonder why redefine the future of work?
Twelve months ago, one of the biggest fears was the unavoidable loss of millions of jobs in the coming years due to the digital transformation. The most innovative organizations began to create training plans, better known as upskilling or reskilling, as a result. But it seems that the pandemic accelerated the change and the future arrived in 2020. Millions of jobs were eliminated. With survival in mind, many organizations accelerated their transformation plans, but even when the pandemic is overcome, in the best of cases, jobs will no longer be what they were before.
Even though this situation may denote some pessimism, the truth is that humanity is in a privileged moment in history where we can be witnesses to or, better still, actors in the changes that we are seeing in the context of the transformation.
Although each of the following concepts could be the subject of an exclusive article and perhaps an entire book, for the moment I would like to provide only a brief reflection.
Inclusion and Diversity
Although this is still a topic of discussion among many board directors, and I am glad that it is, inclusion and diversity should be a subject of present and not of future planning. Furthermore, it should be culturally ingrained in organizations to the point of not being a topic of discussion. Organizations have failed if they have not adopted models of operation that embrace inclusion and diversity. Many of the products and services created by organizations were designed for stereotypes and this fact has not allowed them to have different perspectives to add value to the great diversity of consumers. Fortunately, in recent years, artificial intelligence is helping to meet these personalized needs of consumers. Having said this, internally, the reality at many organizations is far from ideal. Even though it might be hard to accept, it is even more common for companies to have policies based on diversity quotas rather than real inclusion and diversity values.
The new generations that have been joining the labor force have two advantages in relation to those of us who have already been working for several years.
First, they have seen the work models of their parents or previous generations and have identified those aspects that they want to avoid at all costs, such as having a fixed time and place, being under the supervision of a boss with whom they do not share visions or values, having only 15 vacation days a year, spending long hours on unnecessary commutes, working for years toward a retirement without having taken the time to get to know the world and experience more.
On the other hand, these generations have benefited greatly from technological advancements and have incorporated technology into their work DNA. This gives them an advantage because they can easily use tools that previous generations find unnatural.
This cocktail of elements has given rise to a new way of facing the job challenge, having more independence, contributing with what they are good at and not with what the boss tells them to do. They want to do it from home, work with diverse groups but with similar values. They want to have a diversified, multisourced income and not depend on a single income that may not be there tomorrow.
Balance and Well-being
As I have said on other occasions, there is a direct correlation between cause and effect where well-being generates commitment and commitment generates productivity. A reference by the World Economic Forum on research carried out by Prodoscope Research indicates that those leaders who were concerned about the well-being of their work teams during the time of confinement generated greater commitment and an average increase in productivity of 47 percent. Were you one of them?
It is important to mention that taking care of the well-being of employees goes beyond believing that corporate events, gym memberships or the mere contracting of insurance, in the best of cases, meets this need. The same research found that 86 percent of leaders believe they are concerned about the well-being of their teams but only 46 percent of teams consider this to be true. Part of what AI (artificial intelligence) tech solutions can do is give leaders visibility into the real and online health of their teams. Delloitte, in its 2021 edition of the human resources trends report, envisions a radical change where the work-life balance is not two extremes that must be kept in balance, but work must be immersed in a context that generates well-being. Does your company already have a control panel for the well-being of employees?
The exponential advance of technology has been generating new and more opportunities for companies, organizations and especially new ventures. However, not all opportunities can be taken advantage of. This is due to the digital gap that exists in society and within organizations.
To be more precise, there are factors that are increasing this gap: The age factor, where the generation of digital natives has a great advantage over generations such as baby boomers or Gen X. It is important to consider that it is very likely that the working life of these generations will extend for several more years prior to retirement. Therefore, it is necessary to implement the correct training and educational paths so that these people can occupy positions where they add value rather than work at functions that can be easily replaced by the same technology.
On the other hand, the generational aspect is not the only factor that affects the digital gap. There is also limited access to technology. Despite the fact that costs are increasingly lower, access to technology is a factor for millions of people in the world. With less repetitive work and more demand for positions that add value, it is imperative that the gap that is being generated can be mitigated. The risk that exists from not taking adequate measures is that we will fall into digital illiteracy, which becomes the reason for a deep social and economic gap.
The opinions in this article are intended to be a point of reflection with a broad view of the forces that are leading to a different workplace and the way we work. It should only be noted that this transformation process began several years ago and is moving at great speed. When talking about the future of work, we should do it with the train moving in a process that no longer has a point of return.