Recently I had the opportunity to hear some current thinking on the future world of work. Over and over again these thought leaders talked about three key drivers: technology, generational shifts, and disruption. And for some, the future of work is not really about the future because in their opinion the future has arrived.
In this first of a three part series, I’d like to tackle the impact of technology on our workplace culture. Is your culture future proofed when it comes to technology? Take the poll here:
The Connected Generation
More and more of our employees are part of the millennial generation tsunami that is sweeping into our workplaces. They will represent 50% of our workforce in the next three years. As more and more technology comes into the workplace, it’s these workers who have the skills and the knowledge most needed today. This connected generation has never known a life without technology.
They are used to new apps being developed every day to make their lives and work easier. If your company is still running legacy systems that are unwieldy and cumbersome you may find your employees bypassing these existing systems. They will band together to use free versions of new platforms and then pressure you to update to the premium services in order to maintain their productivity. Who wants to have to hold video conference meetings in a specially outfitted board room that has to be booked two weeks out, when participants can use zoom technology right at their desks to achieve the same, perhaps with even more functions (like downloadable video recording).
Does your culture embrace the pace of technological change that these employees are used to and expect to experience in the workplace? Or, will this large cohort describe your culture as bureaucratic and stuck in the past?
The changing nature of the work
In addition, the face of the workplace is changing due to artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. During his 2012 Creative Innovation talk futurist Thomas Frey estimates that over 2 billion jobs will disappear globally in the next 13 years due to advances in technology. This doesn’t mean that 2 billion people will suddenly be out of work, however it does mean that the nature of work is shifting.
Who would have thought 10 years ago that engineers would be a key part of the operating team at the world renowned Princess Margaret Cancer Center? Today, due to the number of robots performing surgery, engineers are as critical as surgeons. Over at SAP, their HR department now includes data scientists to help them manage the plethora of data available as a result of automation advances.
Apis Cor used 3D technology to build a 400 sq ft home in 24 hours for a cost of $10,000. 3D construction will revolutionize the job market for this industry. Check out this 2min video for a peek at the different skills that will be required when new neighborhoods are created. Spoiler alert – not a single bricklayer in sight.
The demand for these new skills is going to create a huge talent shortage. Rocky Ozaki of the BC Tech Association told me that there are already 200,000 jobs that need to be filled in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math arena.
A culture of continuous learning and reskilling of existing employees can help meet these challenges and keep an organization relevant.
A Culture for Future Success
So what does all of this mean to your business? It means you need to rethink the core attributes of your culture. Customer Service as a value has become table stakes to business culture. Will adaptability and continuous learning be the next two core values to become table stakes? With the average life span of a company these days at 15 years, can you afford to leave your culture unattended?