Tag: Future of Work

The Future of How We Live

One of the topics that fascinates me is the way we are adapting our lives to respond to the changes wrought about (largely) by technological advancements. There is a generation growing up that are technology natives and who might not know of a life before social media, smartphones, video and music streaming, etc. We are already hearing about how, led by this generation, people are:

  • Purchasing less cars, preferring to use shared mobility services
  • Delaying (perhaps indefinitely?) the purchase of real estate for personal use, preferring to rent instead
  • Looking for interesting and fulfilling work to do, rather than a job
  • Preferring to spend on experiences, instead of assets (live music concerts, niche travel, etc.)
  • Exhibiting greater awareness of willingness to lead a more sustainable life

I am not sure if all of these are definite long-term trends or a short-term reaction to the present stimuli. I am also not sure if all of these hold true globally, or are specific to a country’s state of development and specific economic conditions.

I hope to read and learn more about these trends and be able to express some views over the next few weeks.

 

 

The time for Personal Branding is Now

Personal Branding - representative image

If you, like me, spend even some time on LinkedIn, you are bound to have come across articles talking about topic around changing nature of jobs, loss of jobs, ‘gig economy’ etc. While the Future of Work is a complex topic, I believe that one things all of us can, and should, do is to build a Personal Brand.

Gone are the days when one’s professional identity was defined by the organisation she or he worked for. The days when one joined an organisation for life and grew steadily up the corporate ladder are behind us. Yes, there might be still be people who spend a majority of their working lives in a single organisation, but my hunch (without any supporting data) is that these people would be in the tiny minority. The majority of people in the workforce today are likely to find themselves looking for a change from what they are currently doing and where they are currently employed at some time in the not-so-distant future. And these could be due to factors either within their control, or most likely, outside their control. And these are no longer just restricted to so-called ‘blue collar’ jobs.

In case you have missed these articles, here are a few:

How much will automation impact the middle class?

Future of work for tech workers

Fewer jobs from ecommerce to IT (Indian context)

So how can one prepare for this? Again, I do not presume to have a solution. But I do believe that it will be vital for everyone in the workforce to build an identity for themselves that can stand independent of the organisation they work for. By this, I mean creating a story about themselves that tells who they are, how they have reached where they are, and where they might want to go next. This might come easier for people who have spent a few years in the workforce, but it’s also important for people just starting their professional careers to continuously think about. This can help them narrow down their learning objectives, identify and connect with the relevant people both within and outside their organisation.

Prepare for the inevitable rise of the ‘gig economy’. Invest in continuous learning. Identify topics of interest, read about them and start participating in conversations around these. Use the many social channels wisely to start dissemination information about yourself. See if you can pick up some side projects that can give hands-on experience and feel for the areas that you want to invest in. And don’t be afraid to ‘pivot’ if you feel that your present career trajectory is unlike to go much further.

This is just another topic that convinces me that we have just entered an age where our understanding of what it means to ‘work’ and how we live our ‘life’ is going to be fundamentally questioned and possibly altered. I don’t know how ‘work’ and ‘life’ is going to look like when the dust finally settles, but I do believe that it’s up to us to proactively think about this and take appropriate steps to adjust as easily and painlessly as possible to this new era.

 

The Dreaded Weekend emails

There was an article in the WSJ recently about the impact of sending emails on weekends to employees health. Many of us in corporate jobs would know the experience – receiving emails from your bosses, senior executives outside of working hours – which compel us to stop doing whatever we were at that time (or planning to) to get to work and reply to the email.

The problem has now become even more severe because we are constantly connected. Our personal and professional communication device is now one and the same. Even if one tries to, it is very difficult to completely eliminate checking in (or being made aware of) a message or email that has arrived in your work channel. And it takes an extremely strong-willed employee to say that I am not going to pay any attention to it.

But most employees aren’t like that. And therefore, in my opinion, leaders should ensure that they are not sending any emails out outside of normal working hours. Such behaviour is observed and will soon become the norm. The article spoke about an email tool developed by an organisation that diverts messages sent after a certain time to a queue and only releases it to the recipient’s inboxes at a more suitable time. I believe this should be adopted by all organisations. This way, people who like to work outside of the usual working hours can still do so as usual, knowing that any emails sent to team members are not going to interfere with their personal lives.

I believe that this also raises questions that organisations would find themselves grappling with more and more. With the inexorable rise of ‘gig’ economy workers and remote working, organisations are going to necessarily have to work with people remotely and working different hours to the standard ‘9-to-5’. It’s going to be vitally important that organisations are prepared with processes and policies to ensure maximum productivity from their globally distributed workforce.

Co-working spaces

My work as a freelance digital marketing consultant takes me to multiple client offices. And the idea for this post came while I was at one such office.

This company, a start-up, decided to base themselves out of a co-working office, rather than rent their own office space. And they are not alone – I know of a few other organisations who have decided that they would rather work out of co-working spaces.

The attraction of such an arrangement is fairly obvious – excellent work spaces with multiple break-out areas where individuals, small teams can work out of, the usual office amenities such as meeting rooms, snack and coffee facilities, lounge areas, etc. Most importantly, the management team is not burdened with the administrative overheads of facilities management. And this itself outweighs the slightly higher costs of such an arrangement.

As a worker in one such space, I find the environment quite stimulating. While you are definitely part of one organisation, you feel yourself part of the larger ecosystem based around the space. The flexibility to work anywhere within the premises (or in another premise of the same co-living space) is so liberating, especially for people of an older generation who have worked in organisations where you are literally tied to a specific desk (along with a land-line phone :-)). In fact, the desks at this particular space do not have a land-line phone, or even provisions for one! Also, no computers and very few monitors on desks give it a very clean, minimalist air. Everyone has laptops (typically sleek Macbooks), smart phones and communication is primarily via services such as Slack (and Google Hangouts for conference calls).

If this is the future of offices, bring it on!