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The Job Market and the Future of Work after COVID

Interview Sylvia Gallusser – The Job Market and the Future of Work after COVID

Sylvia Gallusser talks to Akanksha Kulkarni about transhumanism, the future of the mind and how to develop a futurist mindset. Watch the entire episode on peopleHum’s Leadership video series to know more.

[Transcript]

We don’t have the full picture yet, but things are changing, work is changing, organizations are changing, employee behaviors are changing, the workplace is changing. 

  • Some talk about transformation, others about an acceleration of changes that were already taking place.
  • What is important to notice with the impact of COVID on the work environment, is that it’s not just work which is redesigned, but business. And this varies by industries. Some industries will be transformed. Imagine Air travel: new processes including less human interaction, more electronic check-in and controls, hygiene and safety measures, health monitoring, spacing in the aircraft, etc. Or teaching: teachers will spend more time cleaning supplies, or class supplies won’t be shared anymore, spacing in the classroom will be applied, size of the class will be reduced, social interactions will be less tactile, the role of the teachers will evolve. Live entertainment will have to deal with the fact that customers are now used to more free online entertainment, so we expect business models in the live entertainment industry to change. Hospitals will be transformed. Supply chain as well.
  • Work is changing at two levels.
    • Because of new regulations and new customer behaviors, industries will be transformed, new processes will apply, new roles will be defined.
    • But also because employees have been transformed as individuals during the crisis, they won’t have the same expectations. Essential workers, who have been largely exposed will ask for more safety, recognition, job security and higher salaries. White collars who had to work from home, suppress commute, or go into furlough, unemployment, or new gigs, have developed new work habits. Remote teams have learned new ways to work together and communication has changed nature (distant but more personal as well, now that we know our bosses’ home interiors).
  • All this has consequences on work schedules. The traditional 9-5 format is evolving. Not only because employees had to adapt and rebalance their work-life around more family time and have gotten used to less commute, but also because we want to avoid workers to use public transportation massively, at the same time, in the future.
  • The workplace of tomorrow is affected by the change. Some giant tech companies in Silicon Valley are prolonging the closure for an undetermined time (Facebook, Twitter, Square). Others have already adapted the workplace to safety needs and regulations and will further remodel their floors. Things are shifting, and office centricity is over! The concept of worknet is rising. According to Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes. The WorkNet is a network of contexts, instead of a fixed workplace. In the new WorkNet, social interactions become more important than ever…

So what would be my advice for the upcoming graduates? How to prepare them for the new job market and the new workplace? 

  • This is a question we were actually already asking ourselves for the past decade, even if the terms were not exactly the same: how do we prepare the new generation of workers for a future of work where AI plays a bigger role. And the answer revolved around which are the skills that workers need to develop to adapt to the new jobs. I have written a paper on this called “Rise of the Machines and the Future of Work in 4 big ideas”. 
  • The reasoning is not that different:
    • First of all, we cannot be in denial. A huge amount of jobs will be destroyed, but some others will be created.
    • Then: The new jobs will require a new skill set, and companies need to identify these new mandatory skills.
    • Finally: backwards, how can individuals be prepared from their young age and how can education institutions include these new skills in their curriculum. 
  • I also believe in life-long learning as a solution. You don’t learn everything at school. You learn all your life long. Through the education you receive from your parents, your school, your social environment, your companies (in training and on the job), your readings and listening to podcasts, your online classes, etc. Staying in tune, listening attentively to signals of change is once again a strength that can help. I am sure we can help graduates develop their futures thinking and foresight skills, in order to stay in touch with a moving world – what we call the VUCA environment. They need flexibility. They need adaptation skills. They need to challenge the existing.
  • And institutions can help by including more futures studies in their programs.
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Published by Sylvia

Futurist - Futures Thinking & Strategic Foresight

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