March 24, 2020By Sriram Padmanabhan
Pundits from around the world have been talking about the future of work for a while now, and they are so much in agreement with one another, it is as if they've all returned from the same conducted tour of the future.
Most of what the futurists envision is a result of humanity's response to technology. They universally agree that technology will shape the way we work in three critical ways
- how we work with machines,
- how we work with each other, and
- how we feel about work.
Thus they see wall-to-wall digital processes, frequent interactions with omnipresent AI applications, a deep focus on user experience with all stakeholders, and much more data-driven decision-making. And they believe that these human-machine interfaces will transform human-human interactions as well.
Hierarchies will flatten. More decisions will be taken by a mobile, diverse workforce tapping into ecosystems of partners, regulators, customers and colleagues. While machine interactions will increase in proportion, the fewer human connections will become far more meaningful. In order for this to happen, successful organizations will be able to engage their remote employees better, instill in them a shared sense of purpose and a culture of collaboration. And these human-human interactions will mean that the nature of work itself will undergo a change.
Human work will become more empathetic, more empowered, more fearless, more fulfilling. The attitude required for success in this future, the pundits say, will involve trust and transparency.
While there has been unanimous concurrence (among the pundits, at least) on all these questions for several years now, nobody has been quite sure exactly when this future will become the present. While the technologies required are mostly in place already, what has been missing is a trigger event, a pressing need to change work attitudes and processes.
I believe that there is a good chance that the future of work, as described above, can become a reality as early as this summer - not as a response to technology, but as a response to the Covid-19 virus.
We are already dealing with an unprecedented number of employees working from remote locations. Even as I write this, they are figuring out ways to collaborate and learn, trust and empathize, find meaning and purpose in what they do.
Command-and-control decision processes will creak and crumble under these conditions. Email will struggle to cope. Companies will scramble to change processes, empower more, build technologies that bring knowledge, skills and data to each individual employee in the form and at the time he or she needs it.
Out of the ashes of this global inferno that is burning through the fabric of our work lives, something positive has the potential to emerge: a future where work involves more meaningful human interactions than water-cooler gossip, is driven by an innate sense of purpose and not by a manager leaning over one's shoulder, and is powered by ubiquitous but unobtrusive technology.
Organizations that will succeed in this post-covid future, are the ones that will equip their distributed workforce with a common sense of purpose and values, and then empower them fully to act in the best interests of the company. This isn't easy to do, least of all when your entire workforce is dialing in from their homes. But it has to be done.
If you wish to find out how Cymorg can help get your organization ready for this future, please give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.Written By
President and Founder of Cymorg, a digital Leadership Development solution that combines gamification, data science & business simulations.Know More