The Future of Work: Experience
Foreword by Joseph Sweeney, IBRS Advisor
In the far more mobile and heavily automated workplace of the future, the focus will be on experiences, both for workers and for the customers.
Automation of services, powered by intelligence machines and software will eliminate or transform many of today’s roles. Mobile working coupled with rich collaboration will - and already is - breaking down the borders of organisations and setting the scene for a significant shift in how people are hired. The very notion of a career is breaking down.
And we are just at the very early stage of the Forth Industrial Revolution.
We know that the workforce is changing, but we can’t be sure exactly what it will look like in 10 to 15 years. The rate of change is so great and the social and economic ramifications are so complex that predictions of any accuracy are difficult. Add to this complexity the differences across Asian Pacific and organisational cultures and it becomes clear that any broad prediction is meaningless.
As a result, the biggest challenge for organisations considering these tectonic shifts in the workforce is how to put in place today the technologies, policies and education needed to support the nebulously-defined workforce of the future.
The good news is, there is a way to prepare an organisation for the coming changes. But it means rethinking the role of the employee in shaping how work gets done.
Rather than dictating processes and best-practices, work can be viewed as daily experiences. Rather than innovation being run via hub or team, innovation is the remit of every employee at all times. Rather than dictating software and technologies, workers are presented with platforms and services.
Workers themselves decide how to apply the platforms and services they have access to, in ways the that incrementally and iteratively improve the quality of workplace and customer experiences. The focus shifts from driving productivity (by driving down cost and labor) to continual quality improvement.
This model shares similarities with Edward Deming’s work with manufacturers in the 70’s. Where Deming was improving production by leveraging new automation technologies and harnessing employees’ innovation, we now have the oportunity to apply similar practices to services… indeed all aspects of work.
In short, it is not senior executives or high-paid strategy consultants that will drive the best outcomes for the future of work. It will be the day-to-day workers.
Provided, of course, that they are given the platforms and tools needed, continual education and learning, and permission to experiment with how and where work gets done.
This is the future of work