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By The Numbers

Workplace Survey, Findings

1.Workers are struggling to work effectively. 

When focus is compromised in pursuit of Collaboration, neither works well.

2. Effective workplaces balance focus and collaboration. 

Workplaces designed to enable collaboration without sacrificing employees’ ability to focus are more successful.

3. Choice drives performance and innovation. 

Employers who provide a spectrum of choices for when and where to work are seen as more innovative and have higher-performing employees.

 

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PREDICTING THE FUTURE OF WORKPLACE

The question we face now is how the working consciousness of current and future employees will be further transformed in the age of technology and globalization. What is inevitable is that work will change dramatically and the workforce will be employed in ways we can hardly imagine.

The past six generations have experienced the most rapid and profound change mankind has experienced in its 5,000 years of recorded history. If the world economy continues to grow at the same pace as the last half-century, in 2050 the world will be seven times richer than it is today, world population could be over 9 billion and average wealth will also have increased dramatically.

 

The question we face now is how the working consciousness of current and future employees will be further transformed in the age of technology and globalization we are entering. What is inevitable is that work will change dramatically — and those of us already in the workforce will be employed in ways we can hardly imagine.

According to Linda Gratter’s research, the future workplace will be less about general skills and more about in-depth mastery; less about working as a competitive, isolated individual and more about working collaboratively in a joined world; and less about focusing solely on a standard of living and more on the quality of experiences. Gratter describes three shifts will play out in our lives and the lives of others.

1.The shift to mastery. In the future the means by which individual value is created will shift from having generalist ability to having specialist ability and achieving serial mastery. Why? Because if you remain a generalist, there are thousands, perhaps even millions, of people who can do the same work as you do — yet faster, cheaper and perhaps even better. In the future, you will have to differentiate yourself from the crowd, build depth and yet be prepared to shift gears across the course of your working life. In this new age, there is a possibility for people to put their stamp on who they are and what they choose to do.

However, this possibility carries with it the necessity to become more aware of what is valuable and unique and to craft credentials in a thoughtful and energetic way. This means becoming specialized in a variety of areas and achieving mastery in them and building and carrying valuable credentials in a way rarely seen in the past.

2.The shift to connectivity. One of the paradoxes of the future will be that to succeed one will need to stand out from the crowd while at the same time being part of the crowd or, at least, the wise crowd. So, you will need to both stand out with your mastery and skills and simultaneously become part of a collection of other masters who together create value. Otherwise you will always be on your own, isolated and competing with thousands of others, with no possibility of the leverage that the crowd brings.

In the past, success was achieved through personal drive, ambition and competition. In the future, it will be achieved through the subtle but high-value combination of mastery and connectivity. That’s because, in a future increasingly defined by innovation, the capacity to combine and connect know-how, competencies and networks will be key. It’s in this synthesis or combination that real innovative possibilities lie. So, whom you choose to connect with, and to whom they are connected, will be one of the defining aspects of future working life. Your high-value networks will connect you with people who are similarly specialized as well as those with very different competencies and outlooks. It is in the diversity of these broader networks that the possibility of innovation lays.

3.The shift to quality of experiences. Finally, having confronted the paradox of both being individually masterful and yet joined with others, there is an even more complex shift. You, your friends and children will need to think very hard about what sort of working life you want. Simply opting for a high standard of living is not going to do it. Why? Because in the future, quality of experiences will trump quantity of consumption every time and words like ‘happiness’ and ‘regeneration’ will become the touchstone of future working lives.

The 19th-century industrialization of the Western world heralded the move to cities and the breaking down of traditional communities. In its place came the nuclear family, often uprooted as father moved to seek work. So while the standard of living throughout the developed countries rose, often the quality of life hardly shifted. People may have been able to enter the consumer society and consume at quantity, but this did not necessarily bring them quality of experiences such as happiness or contentment.

There is an opportunity over the coming decades to shape work and life in a manner that enables people to reconnect with what makes them happy and creates a high quality of experience. The breakdown of automated work, the rise of home-based working and the increase in the possibility of choice provide the foundation for a shift in focus away from quantity consumed as the only measure of success.