We interviewed, Frank Feather a leading business futurist, strategy consultant and author of several business books to get his view on what skills you need to succeed in the digital workplace revolution.
Technological revolutions always transform the workplace, especially the job skills and talents required to perform. The future belongs to those who get there first in the digital workplace.
By 2025, about 40% of today’s skills will at least change, if not be made obsolete and replaced by new skills. On average, in some 60% of jobs, at least a 30% of their activities can be automated.
Hence, most jobs will change or be replaced, and more people will need to work alongside technology. Digital technology also changes how and where work takes place.
Digital workplace revolution
In the broadest sense, we are moving from a centralized to a decentralized digital workplace.
1. Old centralized workplace
- The Industrial Revolution moved work from the farm into centralized factories of mass production, starting with textiles and then spreading to other products.
- The Services Revolution, based on computers and information processing, simply copied the centralization model and moved work into what I call “paper-shuffling factories in the sky.”
- The Digital Revolution changes all of that again. Things get digitized and decentralized.
2. New decentralized digital workplace
In the digital era, most things, if not everything, get reversed. You don’t need to “go” places:
- The library; search engines bring the information to you.
- Shops; online shopping networks place the products on your screen and bring them to your doorstep.
- So, it is with work. The vast majority of office workers (I would say 80% at least) do not need to go to office towers to do their work. Work comes to them.
The digital revolution brings the work to their laptop or other device, anyplace, anytime. So much of today’s service sector work will become decentralized to telecommuting remote workers.
This is a slow process that has been ongoing for some time, because traditional managers don’t know how to manage remote workers. But it is expanding rapidly in developed economies, especially since 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Digital workplace skills revolution
These workplace changes require new skills. The 3 main talents needed are as follows:
1. “High-tech” intelligence
This refers to the ability to transform data into business and customer value. It requires the ability to evaluate information credibility and how it should be used.
Digital technology will be commonplace in every workplace, from farm to factory to the service sector: retail, education, healthcare, travel, entertainment, and professional services.
Employees need skills to work with advanced tech, from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Robots of every kind.
They need to become tech-savvy about AI and how Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL) will help them to be much more productive on their jobs and to deliver superior value to customers.
2. “High-touch“ intelligence
The more the world becomes high-tech, the more it needs to be high-touch, or human. Employees need to know their own emotions and those of others, to foster a team-based, human workplace culture.
The world also is increasingly a “global village,” and organizations are increasingly diverse.
As part of high-touch or emotional intelligence (EQ in addition to IQ), employees need to respect and embrace diversity and work together to eliminate every form of discrimination: ethnicity, gender, age, language, religious and political beliefs.
Customers also comprise the global village and they increasingly expect all of this to be reflected in organizations.
3. Self-management skill
Collaborative teamwork and interpersonal skills are essential to help organizations achieve their goals and boost customer satisfaction.
Due to fast-evolving tech changes, people must commit to adapt to change and to learn necessary new or updated skills as an ongoing process.
Management skills of various kinds will be increasingly important for all employees, not just senior executives.
People need good time management skills, self-motivation, continuous re-skilling, sustained creativity and innovation in addition to team project skills, and discretionary decision-making abilities.
Naturally, self-management is very important for any kind of remote work.
The above trends will continue to evolve through the 2020s and beyond. And technology will impact every job in every profession, not just those covered here in general terms.
The key is to anticipate and prepare for change, and re-skill or up-skill yourself so that you are not caught out by it.
Remember, the future belongs to those who get there first!