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The 2030 Workplace | Opinion Thursdays

​Are you 'future fit' for the 2030 workplace?

From automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to flexible work hours, mood-matched workspaces and fast-paced learning to bridge skill gaps, the workplace of 2030 will emphasise ingenuity and idea generation - plus empathy and doing good.

 "As the world of work rapidly evolves, the predictions made for 2030 may be realized even sooner than we anticipate," says Bianca Solomon​, Human Capital Manager at USB-ED.

"Fundamental shifts are already taking place in how talent will be perceived in meeting the needs of the 2030 workplace.  Forward thinking leaders should look to embrace the benefits that technology and AI will enable in the working world of tomorrow and empower themselves with the learnings to be able to step into the future with confidence."

The question is whether companies – and talent – are ready for the challenging demands of tomorrow."

Your role: We probably haven't heard of your job title yet. The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that 35% of the skills required for jobs today will change by 2030. And that 65% of children born today will pursue careers that don't currently exist. You could be a digital death manager, a microbial gut bacteria balancer or even an urban shepherd.

The possibilities are endless, but the industries predicted to grow the most are: information technology (data, AI, machine learning, etc.), caregiving – especially as people are predicted to live for longer, education, management, medicine, smart product design and entertainment.

How you're hired:

  • You'll be hired through on-demand apps that match your skills to prospective employers (Uber for talent management) – perfect for a primarily outsourced workforce.
  • Additionally, all your medical, lifestyle and performance data will be in a central global database you can seamlessly share with HR managers.
  • AI in HR will ensure a fair hiring process, with algorithms that eliminate unconscious bias and pick up pay disparities between genders, for example.

Your colleagues: Most of your colleagues are also likely to be outsourced specialists capitalising on the gig-economy. This means you're probably going to be flitting between employers and teams. Strong interpersonal and soft skills will stand you in good stead as increasing weight is placed on cross-collaboration between all facets of a company. Plus, a flatter hierarchy means most people operate on a similar level.

Your workspace: Co-operative workspaces will have quiet zones mapped out for the mood you're in – for example, a creative red room could have floor-to-ceiling screens for immersive inspiration. There'll also be collaborative spaces for physical meetings or virtual reality catch ups. Your voice assistant Alexa will order a driverless ride for you or possibly an Uber Air if you feel like flying to work. Plus drones will deliver all the packages you order from office online shopping exploits.

Doing good: You may be one of the resources your company uses to gain goodwill from the empathy exchange.  Mihir Shukla, CEO Automation Anywhere, believes that the IoT and AI will provide information on how much involvement companies and individuals have with charities. He predicts that this data will inform Social Performance Measurements that give rise to an 'empathy exchange' – your social standing will increasingly be judged according to how much good you do. So you'll be able to invest in charities as you would the stock exchange – every cause will have a value. For example, your charity investment portfolio could include 30% for saving a life, 40% for sponsoring education, etc.

Your performance: While you may not opt to be microchipped any time soon, AI will play a big role in performance management, according to The Economist. For example, Humanzye already uses smart ID badges to track how well employees interact with each other.

AI could help minimise meeting requests and automate many of the niggling day-to-day tasks that take up so much time. It'll also collect the data that proves performance and helps guarantee promotions. But it could go too far and make employees feel like they're being spied on. Plus, there's the increased risk of data privacy leaks – which is on everyone's minds following the Facebook scandal.

Your skills: You'll need to learn to continuously learn as the fast-paced environment demands ever-changing skill-sets. Online learning will become increasingly popular as people scramble to bridge capability gaps.

Your managers: The importance of information technology and ingenuity to catalyse quick idea generation will demand strong talent- and change management strategies. This means that innovative executives with good problem-solving skills will be seriously sought after – making executive training a must for companies and ambitious talent. Managers will also rely on AI to continuously provide data on staff performance to ensure a team is meeting its KPIs and to reward excellence.

While no one can predict the future, the best way to be prepared for it is through continuous learning and training. For more information on the courses the University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Education provides, visit USB-ED.com.

  





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