Written by Paul Whybrow
From retail to banking and tourism to car manufacturing there is rapid shift in the way products are built, sold and operated. The combination of personalisation, access to continuous internet connectivity and the evolving energy to sustainable and electric is turning many other industries upside down too.
Behind the scenes, businesses across the economy are in the midst of a ‘future of work’ migration. The industrial work practices of the last 100 years of a fixed work location are being switched to such trendy terms as ‘activity-based workspace’ and ‘squad-based collaboration’ where the fixed five days working week has for many, become a flexible 24/7 arrangement where mobile access keeps us tied to business 24/7 wherever we are in the world.
Personally, I see the drivers of change as three interconnected areas – Industry specific change, the impacts of the advanced digital economy and 21stcentury working.
The 21stCentury working or as it is often labelled the ‘future of work’ is an important ingredient that currently can be missed in delivering the technology, cultural and process solutions for the shift to IP and cloud-based media businesses. Coping with reduced advertising or subscriber revenues whilst delivering content across so many diverse platforms seem far more prominent than considering how the workplace for your workforce will dramatically change.
Personally, I am passionate on how 21stCentury working will impact us all and recently I was able to contribute to a book of Challenging Future Practice Possibilities, co-writing a chapter along with Dr Ashely Jones from Deakin Co on the practical impacts.
For workers the impacts are the same anywhere in the economy and our perspectives from the book are reflected in these key simple takeouts which I believe are very relevant to any industry.
Many jobs will be reshaped or automated
With the growing combination of data analytics, artificial intelligence, cloud services and process automation, many manual activities are shifting to automated roles. Whether it is cloud playout, marketing and advertising operations or content creation, there will be more and more that will disrupt and change many of the media and corporate roles we know today.
We will have longer careers
50 per cent of Australians born today are likely to live beyond 100 years of age. Even those in work today will need to work longer to be able to afford retirement, as the public purse simply can’t cope with funding decades of non-working. The result is people in their 20s could look forward to 50+ years of work in total before hitting full time retirement.
We will undertake specialist skill-hopping
With automation aiding our everyday work then we will have the ability to get deeper into a specialism more quickly. The practical result is that people could have, for example, four very distinct ten-year careers in lifetime rather than the one which is very common today.
This could mean that a technology savvy creative may spend ten years becoming a senior video producer, then spend ten years in a start-up driving products in retail, then come back to media as head of technology and product before switching again to retrain as a journalist to produce and present a news show.
As people will have longer working lives and more diversity in what they do, it is highly likely that they will view work very differently, which will drive different behaviours and expectations in a working environment. These workplace changes are underway today and will be incorporated in the current industry disruption impacts and so cannot be ignored easily.
We will expect convenience
Increasingly for consumers, convenience is king: we expect to watch the shows we love instantly, we expect to purchase any good available anywhere and have it delivered promptly to us and we demand any food we fancy to be delivered to our home in 20 minutes. When it comes to work, we expect the same.
Any corporate systems should be available 24 hrs a day as the norm: booking leave, arranging travel, doing expenses, collaborating with colleagues – it all needs to be convenient not clunky!
We will not just want a job but expect a working experience
The current trend is a focus on experiences not just functional services. So why will work be any different? People will demand strong positive experience from what they do, not just the desire for monthly pay stability. What are their job excitement levels, how can they get fun at work and how easy is it to interact: all this will drive the experience of work.
In many cases work location will be irrelevant
Many of my generation have dreamt of losing the commute and fixed work space that media invariably has. Through mobility, cloud, limitless internet and virtual production and management tools, that can all change. Physical creative hubs are likely to thrive as people create well in physical teams, however far more can and will be done remotely.
We will want our work activity to be planet friendly
The momentum is now very clear: the attitudes and practices mean that in the workplace if there isn’t a clear focus around environmental footprint, then the business will have difficulty not only aligning with consumers but also with workers. This goes well beyond office recycling and keep cups for coffee and goes deep into renewable energy, sustainable global production chains and capabilities for businesses to give to others who suffer more in the global economy.
We will demand zero discrimination
Diversity and anti-discrimination policies have the potential to become a complete non-issue, as the work expectation is that any individual has the right to be considered fairly in any situation at work and that if that is not the case then the business will suffer the consequences through social community and legal impacts. The mix of genders and backgrounds will continue to shift to one that represents the mix in the population as a whole.
All of the above is based on the assumption of a growing economy and near to full employment as we have today. There is a path where automation of roles could lead to mass unemployment and into a world where jobs become a rare commodity.
It could be easy to ignore the significant changes that the future of work demands. I would suggest however that could be very costly in business survival terms. The 21stCentury working disruption is as much part of business solution as shifting to cloud, driving AI benefits, and moving to personalised work experiences.