The Future World of Work

Gartner on Future of Work, via GigaOm. With some comments from me in Italics.

I think we’re in danger of overplaying the spontaneous, unpredictable nature of future work, whilst at the same time not preparing enough for it:

“De-routinization” of work. “Non-routine” activities that cannot be automated, such as innovation, leadership and sales, will dominate employment: By 2017, 40 percent or more of an organization’s work will be “non-routine,” up from 25 percent in 2010. Seems fair comment!future world of work

Work swarms. Rather than traditional teams of people familiar with each other, ad-hoc groups or “work swarms,” with no previous experience of working with each other, will become a commonplace team structure. This I am not so sure of – it is proving hard to create work teams in an ad hoc way across networks.

There needs to be a different solution to the need for quickly assembled groups. “Gartner’s “work swarms” concept sounds similar to the Noded philosophy, which describes how groups of individuals, often but not necessarily geographically distant, come together to form temporary or recurring project teams,” say GigaOm.

Weak links. Weak links are the cues people can pick up from people who know the people they have to work with. Exploiting our own networks will help us to develop the ties that are required for participating in wider “work swarm” opportunities.

Again not so sure – Google has been doing a lot of work on the value of weak links. My experience however is that something like LinkedIn is practically useless for building a network that has impact.

Working with the collective. Being able to influence the complex ecosystem of suppliers, partners, clients and customers will increasingly become a core competence. Well yes, but that is called influencer analysis and companies are loathe to invest in it.

Work sketch-ups. Informality will define most “non-routine” work activities; the process models for these activities will be simple “sketch-ups,” created on the fly. Seems like the kind of idea that’s nice to put out there but doesn’t mean much.

Spontaneous work. Seeking new opportunities and creating projects around them is likely to be an opportunistic, rather than strategic, activity. I think adjacency is under-developed as a business strategy and I would not call it opportunism.

Simulation and experimentation. The culture of Google’s “perpetual beta” is likely to spread to other industries, with rapid prototyping taking place in very public environments. Yes, companies need to pilot more.

Pattern sensitivity. Extrapolating from history and experience will become less reliable; the ability to detect and parse patterns and trends in society will provide better insights. Rather – we need to parse data that arises from activity and project from that -for  evidence-based futurism.

Hyperconnected. With formal and informal work diffused across organizational boundaries,  the support mechanisms for workers (healthcare, HR, IT) will need to evolve to support fuzzier, ad-hoc relationships between people and departments. Not really sure how that relates to being hyperconnected.

My place. The boundaries between home and work life are already blurred. Balancing almost 24/7 availability against burning out will become a critical skill. This is already happening.

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