A Different Work Future Requires New Models

A recent article via Linda Lacina is very impactful in these days of uncertainty. A focus on the future is ramping across all sectors, and one of the hottest topics is the future of work. The work discussion is focused on two different time horizons. One is the nearer term implications of the pandemic, labor shortages, automation, an aging society, etc. The other is a longer-term view of what work becomes. In both those conversations, a focus on our human traits and an urgent need to transform education is appropriate. That’s why this article resonated with me.

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Growing and Declining Jobs Over The Next Decade

A recent article provides a glimpse into the fastest growing and declining jobs of the next decade. The visuals captured from the article summarize it well. Not surprisingly, health and wellness, renewable energy, and technology represent the fastest growing job domains. A very hot topic these days along with education.

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Emerging Signals On The Future Of Work

While the world continues to navigate the challenges of a global pandemic, discussion of a post-pandemic future is ramping. The future of work is a dominant piece of that post-pandemic discussion. There are still more questions than answers, but the signals are flying. Three recent articles focused on distinct pieces of this future: Performance, Identity Economy, and Making a Hybrid Work model. The article on performance highlights the pandemic as catalyst and accelerant. The need to rethink how we view performance was clear pre-pandemic – but mostly not acted upon. The events of the last 15 months may be driving action.

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Leaving The Bay Area

Signals. How do you find them through all the noise? When you do find them, what do they tell us? Many are looking for signals that illuminate the post-pandemic world of work. Will we return to an office in large numbers? Will the future evolve towards a hybrid, more flexible model of work? What happens to real estate? In a recent article, Dan Gentile identifies companies that are Leaving the Bay Area. According to the article, there are 16.3 million square feet of office space in San Francisco currently vacant. The organization sf.citi surveyed companies in January 2021 and found that 63% of those asked plan to downsize or have already downsized their offices. The results of the survey also showed that only 14.6% of companies polled plan to have their employees return entirely to in-person work (signals).

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Digital Exhaustion

Work life in the COVID era is still evolving after a year in which the global pandemic has altered many aspects of work. We learned about the importance of essential workers while accelerating a move to remote work. We put to rest a belief that remote work is unproductive and fully embraced all things digital. Along the way, we learned about Zoom Fatigue – a feeling like exhaustion or burnout. Mental health specialist Krystal Jagoo says that a lot of it comes down to the increased cognitive demands of video conferencing communication. Said another way, we are experiencing digital exhaustion. In a recent Article by Chris Matyszczyk, he provides insight from Microsoft – a company that most expect was ready for the virtual word. But when they explored their virtual world, what they found was in their words horrific:

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The Future Always Follows Two Paths

In a Post from 2016, I explored the balance required when the forces of innovation take hold. The pace of innovation four years ago was already staggering, and the engine that drives it continues unabated. From that post:

The unabated exponential progression of science and technology has driven a staggering pace of innovation. The building blocks are mostly there, allowing creative minds to combine them in ways that attack the world’s most difficult challenges. Additional forces have emerged to position the next two decades as a period that is purpose-focused and transformative. Innovation itself is no longer the sole purview of business, universities, government, and military, as our connected world provides an ideation and innovation engine never seen before.

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Are Big Cities In Trouble?

The remote work discussion will not go away. There are no shortages of predictions or perspectives regarding the world of work post-pandemic. I continue to believe that prediction is a fools errand, especially in a world dominated by rapid innovation, uncertainty, and a level of Convergence unseen since the end of World War Two. While we may not predict the future, we can continually look for signals – both weak and strong. The future of both work and cities is intertwined. If remote work becomes the standard practice, it has big implications for cities. A recent Article written by Derek Thompson explores this dynamic. This quote from the article represents a signal:

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Extreme Events And Their Chain Reactions

An event like a pandemic triggers a chain reaction. Like one domino setting the others in motion, COVID-19 is shaping a different future. The links in the chain represent multiple domains, and the reaction spans them all. Our challenge is to understand the Implications of these reactions and the way the World may Respond. I looked at this implication/response Framework in the early days of the pandemic. Now, we see signals that may provide more clarity as to possible paths. One domain where signals are emerging is work.

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The Future Of Jobs

Data gathered by LinkedIn, Coursera and the World Economic Forum was captured in a Future of Jobs Report recently published by The World Economic forum (WEF). A good summary is provided by senior writer Kate Whiting in her recent Article on the WEF website. Report content is showing up in varied places, with key findings like those below widely shared:

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The Workforce of 2025

“According to experts, remote work is here to stay and even when the health crisis ends, a good portion of the workforce will remain working from home”

That’s the sentiment from a recent Article that looks at the workforce of 2025. Author Lori Ioannou explores the challenges of keeping employees connected, innovating and collaborating in a world of virtual organizations. Evidence that remote work is likely to continue keeps mounting. Microsoft told employees that they can Work From Home Permanently. Dropbox recently did the same, announcing on Tuesday that they will stop asking employees to come into its offices and instead make Remote Work The Standard Practice. For employees that need to meet or work together in person, the company is setting up “Dropbox Studios” when it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, the company extended its mandatory work from home policy through June 2021.

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Is The Future Of Work A Return To The Past?

For those of us alive today, our core beliefs, the way we live, and our notion of work are rooted in the way it has been for the last 250 years. To us, it has always been this way. When a transformative era emerges, we struggle to imagine a different way of doing things – even when the emerging future is begging us to think differently. One great example lies in the future of work. As we struggle to envision a world where work is no longer required, we fail to realize that History is very Instructive.

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The Future Of Work: Outcomes, Trust, And Empowerment

As the world focuses on a global pandemic, remote work has been a popular topic. As reported by Brian Fung, Google just Announced  the extension of their remote work policy to July of 2021 – an acknowledgement that the pandemic could be with us a while. Siemens decided to make their policy permanent, but as this Recent Announcement indicates, their approach is very refreshing. Following in the footsteps of others, Siemens is adopting a new model that will allow employees worldwide to work from anywhere they feel comfortable. The permanent standard allows employees to leverage the new model for an average of two to three days a week. This article by Justin Bariso focuses on the refreshing part of the announcement, reflected in this quote by incoming CEO Roland Busch:

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The Future Of The Office And Changing Work For The Better

Can we ever go back to the way things were? That’s the question Manon DeFelice asks in a recent Article that explores the return to the office. The article provides some interesting insights. For instance, about 62% of Americans say they have worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent Gallup Poll. A majority (59%) of those individuals say that remote work would be welcome post-pandemic. One of the concerns often stated about remote work is the impact on productivity. Well, Ms. DeFelice shares results from a YouGov Survey that found 54% of professionals ages 18-74 felt that working from home has had a positive impact on their productivity.

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A Job Guarantee

As I continue to research the societal factors that influence our future, I’ve explored broad topics from Government Deficits to Modern Monetary Theory. A Job GuaranteeMost recently, I’ve looked into something that lies at the heart of many societal ills; unemployment and underemployment. That journey led me to my most recent book titled: A Job Guarantee. I just added a book – written by Pavlina R. Tcherneva – to my Book Library. Ms. Tcherneva is an American economist of Bulgarian descent, working as associate professor and director of the Economics program at Bard College.

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Our Ultimate Job is to be Human

After posting this Article on Education and Learning, colleague and fellow Futurist Gerd Leonhard made me aware of his recent video. In his short video, Gerd describes why our ultimate job is to be human. Enjoy.

The Future of Employee Compensation

A recent Article on the future of work focused on an important piece of  the story: a future employee compensation model. Author Dwight Chestnut proposes a new model that he calls the Empowered Employee Compensation Model (EECM). This new workplace compensation model was the result of a new economic research initiative. The model replaces hourly wages, salaries and benefits with ten new income resources and benefits and is projected to drive a three-fold increase in the aggregate standard of living.

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The Hybrid Job Economy

The notion that a renaissance man is more important today than ever is presented in recent Research by Burning Glass Technologies. Perhaps the best renaissance man of all time was Leonardo da Vinci, who was highly esteemed for his broad knowledge of many fields. The research concludes that we must all become more da Vinci-like in our careers. Said another way: learning a single skill in isolation has a short shelf life. Learning complementary skills becomes critical in what the research describes as a hybrid job economy.

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Wages are flatlining around the world

The World Economic Forum focused on wages in a recent Article that described a new Report from Hays, the world’s largest specialist recruiter. They highlight another year of change ranging from the tensions rising over trade relations between the US and China; to the uncertainty around Britain leaving the European Union; to the increasing levels of scrutiny against ’Big Tech’ and the ensuing debate surrounding privacy and content.

The IMF forecast a slowdown in global real GDP growth due in large part to the fear of the unknown. The Global Skills Index developed by Hays tracks the trends facing the global labor market. Here are some of the key findings:

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MIT Report on the Future of Work

In a recent Article posted on the Singularity Hub, the author describes the first report of the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future. This group of MIT academics was set up by MIT President Rafael Reif in early 2018 to investigate how emerging technologies will impact employment and devise strategies to steer developments in a positive direction. The primary finding from this report is that  it’s the quality of the jobs we should worry about – not the quantity.

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The Future of Work

Book - The Future of Work

I just added another very good book to the Book Library: The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation. Author Darrell M. West looks at a world in which our current views of work change. He explores the implications to our social contract and the policy decisions so critical to revising that contract for a new era. Structural change – which Mr. West explores in the book – has long been a tenet of my work. The future of many of our institutions will either change by our proactive acknowledgement that they must change – or they will be undermined.

The conversation so nicely positioned by our author is one that must happen at all levels of leadership. This does not have to be a Utopian versus Dystopian discussion. Rather, like the major disruptive periods of our past, leaders need to lead.

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