Is It The End of Work As We Know It?

By Richard Leider on December 7, 2016

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Gone are the days when having a job meant “doing your job.” No longer can anyone anywhere expect the future of work to be the same as it was. Innovation, which used to be innovative, is now the norm. Staying ahead of the game is what it takes simply to be part of the game. Everyone will feel the pressure to market their most important asset—themselves—and to create and manage what is often referred to as “the economy of you.”

What’s the “New Abnormal?”
Ten years ago, Facebook didn’t exist. Ten years before that, we didn’t have the Web. Ten years from now, the workplace won’t look the same. We’ll see a more flexible, more freelance, more collaborative, and far less secure work world. It will be run by a more diverse generation with new values. And, women will increasingly be at the controls.

Media coverage of the “new normal” in the workplace is incessant and often sensationalized. To be successful in the next decade, we will need to demonstrate foresight in navigating this “new abnormal.” We will increasingly be called upon to continually reassess the skills we need, and quickly put together the right resources to develop and update these.

Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the factors reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future.

The last twenty years or so have shifted the way we work. For example, two decades ago, telecommuting was relatively novel. Today, whole industries have sprung up in which customers, suppliers, and producers are distributed all over the world, connected only by the internet and satellites.

Here are three ways that work has changed:

1. Zero Security
Social networks have become a way to partner. Workers at all levels market themselves through their social networks, forming coalitions and gaining influence by striking deals based on their distinct skill specializations.

Access to work opportunities is no longer limited to physical location. More opportunity and access to work worldwide means more choice, more freedom, and less commitment to one organization. A big organization no longer means job security.

A new form of talent pool and market where individuals, project teams, or entrepreneurial companies (teams of teams) bids on tasks and opportunities.

2. You, Inc.
The flatter and more networked the workplace has become, the more essential it is for us to continually build and communicate the “value proposition” that enables us to stand out in a crowd of talent. The next decade will see value proposition take center stage. The ideal worker now brings a clear strength in at least one field, but has the capacity to blend that with a broader range of disciplines. It will be particularly important to develop this mindset. Employers and clients are looking for creators and innovators who have a clear “You, Inc.” value proposition.

3. Intrapreneurship
Everyone will need to be an “intrapreneur” in mindset. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to work with the mindset of an intrapreneur. We will have greater control over the kind of work we tackle and how we are compensated. We will be at an organization for a period of time and then move on to the next one. Career tenure will last, on average, four years.

The phenomenon of the “slash career,” where we combine two different fields of work as part of our identity, will continue to rise. No longer is someone merely a lawyer, for example; they are a “lawyer/actress,” or a “tech executive/gluten‐free baker,” or, as profiled in a New York Times article, a “forensic psychologist/DJ.”

The new work world requires that we “know ourselves,” know our “value proposition,” and become intrapreneurial lifelong learners.

Are you and your team prepared for this new normal? Share your thoughts with us below.

Posted in Blog, Leadership Development, Talent Management

About Richard Leider

Richard Leider is the co-chair of Linkage's Global Institute for Leadership Development. He is widely recognized as one of the top executive coaches in the world and for his work helping 100,000 leaders from more than 50 corporations discover the power of purpose.

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