The workforce of the future has been debated for years but has never been such a hot topic as today, with the Covid-19 pandemic. It is no longer news that the face of the world and the way we do business has irrevocably changed. Instead of the slow and steady climb toward a borderless, digital society, global economies suddenly found themselves launched onto a new trajectory, forced to adapt to survive. We are watching the workplace and workforce of the future take shape, with changing roles, relationships and demands. There has been a rapid shift toward remote work, innovation and automation, enabled by the ubiquity of technology and the digital economy.
What will the future look like, and what does it mean for the workforce and youth of today?
The workforce of the future will be distributed and transboundary.
Advancements in digital and unified communications, allowing for real-time audio and visual connection, have made it easier than ever to work remotely and efficiently from anywhere in the world without compromising the quality of interactions. In fact, at the advent of the pandemic, many white-collar companies around the world were able to make the work-from-home shift almost instantaneously.
According to a survey of roughly 1,200 chief information officers across different industries around the world conducted by Enterprise Technology Research (ETR), 72% of the workforce is remote, and it is expected that the share of the workforce permanently working from home will double to 34.4% in 2021, from 16.4% before the pandemic.
January is a month CIOs often use to look back on the past year to build plans for the next. 2020 was a year like no other, and when Data Executives reflect on the “tech-celeration” their company experienced, they could find it challenging to prioritize opportunities for 2021 and beyond.
There is a lot to look forward to in 2021:
CIO budgets are expected to rise by at least 4% this year according to SiliconAngle and Enterprise Technology Research (ETR).
Almost 92% of companies report that the pace of investment in Data and AI will continue to accelerate, and
This year is the “no turning back year” for Chief Data Officer (CDOs): 65% of companies now have one, according to the latest Big Data and AI Executive Survey.
Still, a lot needs to be solved: over 3/4 of executives admit they have not succeeded in building a data-driven organization and while investment in Big Data and AI remains high for 99% of them, results continue to lag.
In this post, I examine two phenomena that could make or break the future of CIOs. One is a favorable one. The other, a distracting one. I’ve labelled them the “Organizational Shuffle” and “VendorSpeak”. Let’s dive in! Continue reading →
For the past ten years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work remotely and managed teams who do the same for over two decades. As a result I was prepared for 2020’s exodus from the office. I made the important decision to live in Northern California, away from the major tech hubs of San Francisco and not once did I feel like my career path was stifled. In fact, I was promoted to my current role as CMO while working from home. Based on my experience, I’ve outlined three key things for other business leaders to consider as we approach this post-pandemic economy.
Successfully running hybrid teams
While we’re all remote now, the New Year is expected to usher in a more hybrid work setting. Many employees will remain at home, some in the office, and others will choose to do a bit of both. Either way, the office won’t look like it did in February. My team has discovered new ways of working this year, especially as parents are dealing with challenges we never thought possible. Solutions involve offering flexible hours or a part-time schedule for parents, while they assist their children who are distance learning. No matter the situation, being flexible and empathetic is critical.
Supporting the personal growth of your employees is also one way to ensure the longevity of your team. There’s no reason that career-path exercises of the past can’t remain intact while everyone is remote. Make sure you’re still facilitating career development discussions on a regular basis. Share clear feedback, kudos and areas for growth the way you would in person. In the end, everyone involved will feel more excited, rewarded and challenged in their roles.
Last month, I wrote an article about quirky interview questions—you know, the random queries that interviewers sometimes ask to see how well you think on your feet. The article generated a fair amount of buzz and many exchanges on social media. In a LinkedIn Asia survey, nearly 60% of respondents said they’d like to see an end to these off-the-wall questions. Some called them stress-inducing, and others felt they have little to do with the job.
Unfortunately, these quirky questions are here to stay. Interviewers who responded to the survey say they use them “to test out-of-the-box thinking” and “show how someone responds to a situation that hasn’t been planned.” They are used to assess a candidate’s mental agility—a quality in hot demand. Below are questions that several interviewees I’ve corresponded with said they have been asked, and some suggested answers. Keep them in mind at your next job interview.
1. IF YOU WERE AN ANIMAL, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU BE?
This common question is designed to reveal the job seeker’s personality and suitability for the role. Have some fun with it and choose an animal whose characteristics align with your prospective role.
In a post-pandemic world, companies undoubtedly will turn increasingly to advanced technologies — artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and automation — to accelerate growth and improve profit margins. Such an arms race, however, will not be sustainable as even the latest technology will eventually become commoditized. Instead, the true point of differentiation will be well-educated human capital deployed dynamically to tackle challenges so complex that AI and automation will come up short.
To be clear, technology will be the foundation of digital transformation. As two experts from the World Bank wrote in Harvard Business Review, “Increases in efficiency brought about by digital technology can help businesses expand. Digital platforms can create entirely new occupations and jobs.” Yet that opportunity will not be realized unless people are well-educated, not only when it comes to job-specific technical competencies, but also in 21st century skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, as well as character traits of leadership, ethics, citizenship, and grit.
Based on conversations I’m having with business leaders across multiple industries, and even what I see in our own company, I believe the key to future success — through this decade and beyond — lies in learning engineering. Essentially, that means offering the right learning opportunities to build relevant skills and ensuring that people take advantage of learning and development (L&D). As a chief learning officer (CLO) told me recently, “The pandemic has exposed the fact that L&D is not a ‘nice to have’; it is a ‘need to have.’”