Top tips to prepare yourself for the future of work
The future of work will see many disruptive changes, with automation, robotics and Artificial Intelligence all radically reshaping the professional landscape. But these changes are already happening, and we must adapt our working patterns now if we’re to be successful tomorrow. Since the Industrial Revolution, there has been much focus on how to achieve a better work/life balance. However, in the new digital era, where 24/7 connectivity, mobility and cloud-based apps are the norm, we need to talk about work/life integration, whereby personal and professional lives can be seamlessly integrated and flexible. Here, I offer my top tips on how to be successful in the future of work, while having an energised home and social life.
Build your network
People who are well connected are often more energetic and positive than those who are isolated. In the future, careers will become more like a patchwork of jobs and opportunity-specific, with labour shifting to a gig economy, giving greater flexibility in what we do. In this age, your network will be your key asset – >who you know, in addition to what you know, will be instrumental to having a successful career.
Transformation does not occur in isolation, nor does it typically occur within the same group of friends. As you make new connections, you will inevitably let go of some from the past. This is important, because the people who know you best are the ones most likely to hinder transformation, rather than encourage it. Mixing with different peer groups and networks will enable you to experience new values, norms, attitudes and expectations.
Establish your brand identity
Following a linear career path was the tradition for the baby boomer generation, where employees tended to stick with one employer for the entirety of their working lives. However, this is very much a thing of the past. With organizations moving towards flatter structures and self-organizing teams, it will be your expertise and unique experiences that will drive career progression. What specific skills can you bring to a project or team that make you unique? Build your portfolio and regularly review, improve and add new skills and areas of expertise.
Encourage continuous education
With the ageing population, many of us will find ourselves working for longer, with many commentators predicting that we will be working well into our 70s to be able to afford to retire. Multiple careers will become the norm. Learning a particular skill and expecting to have a life-long job based on this one-off investment in training is a thing of the past – whether that’s an apprenticeship or a university degree. In the Economist’s recent special report on “Lifelong Education”, it summarizes that for many occupations, it has become essential to acquire new skills as established ones become obsolete, a trend that is giving rise to ‘hybrid jobs’ according to Burning Glass Technologies. For example, coding skills are being required well beyond the tech sector. By continuously learning and upskilling yourself in new areas, you will ensure you remain current in the rapidly changing working environment.
Improve your social skills
Whilst having a deep knowledge of a particular topic or specific skills in a specialist area are still attractive qualities that employers look for, being able to demonstrate that you also possess the softer, social skills will be the key success. For instance, work on developing skills that show you can maintain a lively network, work in multicultural and diverse teams, engage and inspire others, mediate problems, lead, persuade and negotiate with others. These soft skills will be in high demand and will top the “must have” list of any company looking to recruiting top talent.
Be open to questioning old habits and routine to challenge stereotypes, and experiment with new ways to integrate work and life. This practice is called ‘routine-busting’ by Douglas Hall and Philip Mirvis, who argue it can lead to new cycles of learning and personal development.
This transformation in the workplace will affect all roles and positions, and so the onus is on each and every one of us to adapt now and make ourselves relevant for the future. By adopting these types of approaches, you can prepare yourself and ensure you will be successful in tomorrow’s working world.
For further information, see our vision for the Future of Work in Journey 2020