Today, I’m joined by future of work expert and author Alexandra Levit, for a question and answer session. We’ll be discussing the ever popular topic, “The Future of Work” and what this really means for organizations. Alexandra will also be hosting a free webinar with us next week on future-proofing your organization and career, so you won’t want to miss that. Here’s the link to the webinar: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/slblcj8akiv0&eom . Ok let’s get started with the interview:
Gavyn McLeod: Alexandra, how would you define the future of work?
Alexandra Levit: To summarize my perspective, I talk about the future of work (which is already here, in many respects) in terms of the three Cs: collaboration, customization, and creativity. In our workplaces, we will collaborate virtually, remotely, via human/machine hybrid teams and the Internet of Things. Everyone’s career path will be fully customized. Most of us will develop a wide bench of cross-functional expertise, will work for a multitude of employers and will be responsible for our own re- and upskilling. The last C is perhaps the most critical, and that’s creativity. Robust employment for humans in the mid-21st century will depend on the non-routine, interactive, and unexpected contributions that only people can make, which often relate to skills like discovery, innovation, teaming, leading, selling and learning. You will have to be a step ahead of your industry’s plans to outsource and automate, and you’ll have to determine ways to insert your creativity into tech-driven processes and know exactly how you can continue to add value.
Gavyn McLeod: You start your new book “Humanity Works” by describing the different ways that this isn’t our parent’s workforce anymore. Can you briefly describe some of the trends you found in your research that makes the concerns and/or opportunities rising in the future of work different than what we’ve previously seen?
Alexandra Levit: Most of the hand-wringing seems to be coming from the automation fear, which I’ll address in a moment and in more detail on the webinar. My research has illustrated a different concern, however. The most problematic way this isn’t our parents’ workforce is that you aren’t told from birth or even university what you should do with your life. You can literally do anything you want, and no one will govern this process but you. You’ll be completely responsible for securing work, gaining the skills necessary to do that work, and knowing when you have to be agile and switch your focus. Just like there are people who aren’t cut out for corporate bureaucracy, many aren’t prepared or willing to work this autonomously and will have to anyway. Figuring out how to help these professionals and save them from stress, burnout, and failure is what personally keeps me up at night.
Gavyn McLeod: You’ve identified some key human competencies in the future of work. Can you briefly describe these key competencies – and maybe how individuals can think through developing them today?
Alexandra Levit: Just saying you are going to automate huge swaths of your employee population grossly oversimplifies things. Until smart machines develop consciousness, there are simply too many tasks that require unique human skills including empathy, judgment, intuition, creativity, and interpersonal sensitivity. But, as we know, not all humans are created equal, and you may seriously need to hone one or more of these skills. The key is to be honest with yourself about it, read the writing on the wall in terms of what parts of your job are in jeopardy, and take action to re or upskill via courses sponsored by your company, massive open online courses, on the job learning, or mentorships.
Gavyn McLeod: Thanks Alexandra. I encourage everyone to join Igloo and Alexandra for the webinar, Humanity Works: Future-Proofing Your Organization and Career, on November 28th at 1PM EST. The first 40 people to register will receive a free copy of Alexandra’s new book, Humanity Works.