Think Tank by Adobe
Asia Pacific

Creative Pulse 2017

The Future of Work: Experience


Whether the jobs change, or just the tools, one aspect of work is likely to remain
steady in the face of technological disruption – the necessity for meaning.  


As organisations seek innovation and embrace new technologies, our experience of work is facing an era of important change. Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning are keys to the foreseeable automation of many and varied tasks across almost all industries.   
The Australian government predicts that as many as 40% of current jobs are facing ‘significant disruption’ in the next 15 years – raising the prospect of some roles disappearing altogether. For many, the future of work will involve greater interaction and reliance on technology than ever before.  
Office workers across Asia Pacific already see technology as an important part of their working experience. The Future of Work: APAC 2017 shows many rate technology above other amenities, including food and office design.  Of those surveyed, 51% nominated ‘state of the art technology for my work station’ as most important.
Technology wins over all other workplace amenities
Motivators to Work
Q. Of the following factors, which are the most important in creating your ideal physical space at work? Please select up to three. 
“There’s a fundamental shift in thinking about how people in offices, at least, get their job done,” explains Dr Joseph Sweeney, a workplace transformation expert with consultancy IBRS. “We have new ways of delivering workplace tools. We're seeing those all break down and fragment into little services,” Sweeney says. “So instead of saying here's a solution, go and work at that desk… here's a toolbox.”  
Sweeney joined technologists, scientists, organisational and business experts from APAC, brought together for Adobe Think Tank 2017. The wide-ranging discussion on ‘The Future of Work’ drew insights from across a region that is incredibly diverse, economically and culturally. 


“…innovation actually needs people to bounce off each other in terms of ideation” 


— Abhijit Bhaduri. 




Collaboration for innovation

The way workers collaborate, for example, varies across APAC, according to Sweeney. “Collaboration is one of the hardest things to actually get right inside organisations,” he says. 
“The way that we use collaboration in Australia is primarily messaging. The way that it's used in other markets is deep collaboration where you've got multiple people… it's like mechanics working on the same car. It's a very different approach to collaboration.”   
Of respondents to the Future of Work APAC 2017 survey, 45% chose “technology to help connect me to colleagues” as most important amongst workplace amenities.
Collaborative technology helps office workers be most innovative
Motivators to Work
Q. Please rank these in terms of how valuable they are in making you more innovative in your job? 
(Ranking calculated basis weighted average of multiple parameters ranked in order of importance, with 1 being most important and 5 the least.)
* Office workers in Australia and New Zealand ranked state-of-the-art technology as key to them innovate at work. 
In today’s workplaces, organisations seek the innovative potential of people working together. Participants may be in different locations, but the emphasis has moved on from mere telecommuting – that trend has reversed, the influencers observed.  
“The biggest tech companies are building the largest campuses,” says Abhijit Bhaduri, India-based author and management consultant. “They are deliberately bringing their people back into the workspace because innovation actually needs people to bounce off each other in terms of ideation,” Bhaduri says. 



Fragmented experience

As organisations look for bottom line benefits from technology and, in particular automation, they should be mindful of the experience they are creating for employees.  
Modern working life is an experience that is increasingly becoming fragmented, according to Sarah Caine, associate professor at University of Technology, Sydney.  
Organisations that are splitting out the mundane and repetitive tasks may well be exacerbating the fragmentation already being felt by workers, especially those who are on short-term contracts or working on a project-by-project basis.  
The ‘gig economy’, where workers bid for tasks via online marketplaces has been both applauded and decried. On one hand, it increases competition and opens up work opportunities for those who might not otherwise have them. On the other hand, workers are effectively bidding to be paid the least for their efforts, with limited support for their rights. 
“It’s this idea that we can hire from anywhere at any time in very short engagements,” explains IBRS’ Dr Joseph Sweeney. “And what's surprising me is I'm now taking inquiries from very traditional companies and government organisations saying, how do we utilise these lower cost workers—and it's explicitly around cost,” he says. 
Beyond financial implications, a fragmented experience of work can have a deep impact on the wellbeing of workers. Jobs may be divided into components, some being automated, some being outsourced, and what’s left will be increasingly abstract. 
The workers most likely to adapt will need an “interdisciplinary perspective”, Caine says, otherwise they will lose sight of their purpose.  
“Work is getting more fragmented. So you can take little bits and pieces of work, which technology allows you to farm out in multiple places, and because of this shift, what you have is people don't find meaning,” Caine says.  
The value of meaning and doing meaningful work is especially relevant in APAC, where in many cultures, a person’s job is part of their identity. 
“So the issue is also about how do we create meaning for people who are doing those kinds of jobs.” 
If employee experience drives customer experience, businesses must invest in tools that support team collaboration. Adobe is supporting organisations to shape the way they work now and for the future. Find out how Adobe Experience Cloud is helping teams to connect and get the job done.


Watch our latest installment of Think Tank in Sydney, Australia

Explore with Think Tank thought leaders as we consider a future where people and machines work seamlessly together, redefining our experiences at work and in our everyday lives.

Interviews with Think Tank Thought Leaders

Shiao-Yin Kuik
Co-founder & Director 
The Thought Collective
Dr. Jordan Nguyen
Harlina Sodhi
SEVP, Head of Culture & Capability 
Abhijit Bhaduri
Abhijit Bhaduri & Associates
Dr. Fiona Kerr
Industry Professor, Neural & Systems Complexity 
Adelaide University
Mark Henley
Director of Transformation & Digital Strategy 
APAC at Adobe
Su-Yen Wong
Nera Telecommunications
Dr. Joseph Sweeney
Sarah Kaine
Associate Professor 
UTS Business School