….or Why “Reading, Travelling And Keep Fit” Will Become The Most Important Part Of The CV Of The Future

I have just spent the last week imaging what our working environment will look like in 2020. Special thanks to Jonathan Hargreaves, Rick Murray and Stefan Stern for their thoughts and inspiration.

One of the discussions centred on the fact that while in the 1980s the world of work was defined by FMCG companies such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever in terms of management style and organisation, while in the 1990s management thinking took inspiration from engineering companies epitomised by the GE Way. By 2000 investment banks (Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Chase Manhattan) and, to some extent, management consultancies (Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey) were the dominant force.

The broad consensus is that the workplace of 2020 will be driven by technology – the way teams collaborate, the frequency and style of communications, the nature of management and hierarchy, and the overall organisation of work.

However, the workplace of the future will not be dominated by technologists; on the contrary, the technology paradox of 2020 is that non technical, “soft” skills in greater demand than ever before.

There are three key reasons:

· The nature of work in 2020 will exert a premium on employees who thrive in collaborative environments, those who can communicate across a range of media and time-zones to a variety of cultures, in a multiplicity of languages. 2020 collaborative teams will have to find and agree a set of shared values (there will be no default office culture), shape and adhere to a hierarchy which is both virtual and global, and create a working culture that crosses international boundaries, datelines and language. Collaboration on this level is not about technology or automation, it is more about social skills, creating team cultures and building loyalty.

· The consumerisation of technology; by 2020 the number of platforms and media through which organisations can communicate will multiply and they will not distinguish between “workplace” and “leisure-time”. An acute awareness and understanding of these communications media will be fundamental for any organisation; and the skills required to match message with appropriate media – on a global scale – will, by definition, be soft.

· Information overload; if we think we are bombarded by information and stimuli now, 2020 will see even greater pressure on our time and attention spans. The volume and diversity (work and leisure-related) stimuli bombarding the 2020 employee will require a level of judgement, experience, discretion, prioritisation – in short, soft skills – never previously demanded of any generation. 2020 employees will be systematically required to make value judgements on whether, how and when they respond to incoming data on a continual basis. It will not be possible to automate these decisions (the entire process will already be fully and exhaustively automated); what remains will require a level of judgement, opinion, assessment, discretion and experience that is 100% “soft” and 100% “human”.

So the age of technology management may not only be good news for social sciences, it will also add a new level of importance to soft skills often hidden at the bottom of our CVs . . . if, of course, we have CVs in 2020, but that requires another post altogether!

@RogerDara

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