Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Future of Work

At the ExCel in London today for the Higher and Further Education Show. Lots of top people here from different agencies across the sector, and an interesting mix of sessions.

Opening one is from BT on The Future of Work: How Technology Innovation will transform our working environment. Given by Head of BT's Global Innovation Team. Working on a project on the future of work.

What are the trends influencing the future of work, and how should we be training students to enter this new world of work?

The Ds driving the future of work. 6 trends.

Dilbert. How physical workspaces are transforming . More choice about how and where we work. As a student at University, you don't have a desk. You move around seminar rooms, cafes, libraries. Activity based learning, some companies moving towards this. One size does not fit all. Some people like offices, cubicles some hate it and prefer open plan. Don't need to go into the office, can work from coffee shops, office hubs. Home working is more productive, but tough. People need to be social. Physical environments are big collaboration tools. Need to construct spaces where you can move around and select the environment you need for the task you are doing.

Not going to kill distance, but meeting face to face is becoming a luxury. Using FaceTime, Skype etc we are becoming more comfortable collaborating by video. But, some people don't like it. Voice is a good collaboration tool. But until recently it has been hard work to have multiple people on a conference call. BT has teamed up with Dolby to improve the sound. High definition sound, different voices separated in space, noise cancellation for heavy breathers! Improves engagement. But our inner Neanderthal needs to meet and form our tribes. Engage in augmented reality or virtual reality? Psychology is as important as the technology.

Dr No.
Consumerisation. Bring your own apps, hardware, software. IT dept don't like it. Say No. Of course this is changing. Need to take account of security etc, but accept it.

Dolly. (Parton, obviously)
From 9 to 5. This trend is dying, often we work in global companies. And we now blur work, home life. Constantly connected. Are we more productive? Need to handle work life balance

One of most interesting trends in workspace. We are culturally diverse. Gender diversity is important, especially in STEM subjects. Age diversity. For first time ever we have 5 generations in the workforce. We are living longer. Will need more education, skills will change over the period of work. Flexible working will become more important. Retaining staff, especially younger ones will be a challenge. Different age groups will have different expectations of work, and of the technology they use. Collaboration is increasingly a key skill. Technology for collaboration has changed, younger people share a lot more, possibly over sharing, happy with use of social media and chat. Older generations deeply suspicious of use of social media at work. They use email, which is a terrible collaboration tool! Some companies ban internal email. Danger is that we have little islands of people talking to each other. Leaders have to set the scene and become more social, it's all about networking. Good leaders are connectors.
You don't get innovation without diversity.

A lot of the things we assumed automation would never be able to do, they are starting to do eg language translation, driving a car, IBM Watson won jeopardy! Internet of things, smart cities all emerging. Are privacy and security implications for all of the data being collected. But, jobs will be automated out. Always happened eg printing press. typing pool. Taxi drivers probably doomed, either by Uber or self driving car.
We're seeing the rise of the assetless company. Instagram only had 13 employees when it was sold to Facebook for $1bn and had 30m users. Uber has 160000 drivers but doesn't own a car.
Robots may be able to out-diagnose a GP, but can't care.

We will need to educate people throughout their career. Will need flexibility and different types of education. We will be short of high skilled workers and too many low skilled ones. So need to upskill.
Sort of skills we will need are
Some traditional
Personal Carers
Hairdressers, for women at least:-)
Some new ones
Virtual personality designers
Climate change engineers
Data scientists
Lifestyle auditor
Body part designers
DNA programmers

Interesting talk, especially around the age diversity in the workplace.

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