Work disrupted? Get ready for more change!

For decades, work was well-defined and stable. Workers went to the office to fill roles that were standardized and predictable. Firms developed multi-year forecasts and succession plans to ensure smooth transitions and growth. All of that started to change with the information economy. Technology and changing worker expectations allowed full-time work to be broken down into smaller pieces. This decomposition of work and the rise of the gig economy was changing the nature of work long before COVID forced a massive shift. Rather than an evolution, COVID shoved us into an entirely new place, and the continued forces of change will further accelerate that shift.

In his recent book, Jeff Schwartz of GLOAT argues that the core dimensions of work, workforce, and workplace all require rethinking. We have all witnessed the changes in the workplace, with everyone spending fewer hours in traditional offices. Hybrid work is here to stay, and both workers and managers now face the challenge of leveraging the best of both worlds to create workplaces that work for everyone. The rise of AI and automation will require designing human-machine teams for augmentation and collaboration – not a simple substitution of automation for human labor. Workforces must become more agile and fluid through marketplaces and ecosystems that quickly bring the skills and leadership together to solve problems and create new business opportunities.

COVID accelerated all these underlying trends. In my interview with Jeff, he noted that the past 3 years have exposed the potential of workforces to solve huge challenges. Jeff believes that we will see just as much change by 2025 as we saw in the past 3 years. For HR leaders, the continued focus on the wellbeing of workers is essential. Successful firms will reimagine and redesign work to fit needs of companies and desires of workers. With those changes will come entirely new ways to think about multi-phase careers that flex and change with the nature of work itself. To prepare for those changes, we all must combine a learning mindset to simultaneously achieve today’s demands while preparing for a new world on the horizon.

To hear more from my interview with Jeff Schwartz (VP of Insights and Impact, GLOAT and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia Business School), watch the video. We discuss the future of work and the evolving work ecosystems. For more on those subjects, check out Jeff’s recent book Work Disrupted and his forthcoming book Workforce Ecosystems.

Leadership Notes is a blog and video series on leadership.  Through interviews with leaders from both the private and public sector, Johnson examines key leadership issues like empowerment, team development, and cultural dexterity.  The blog also addresses topics such as learning from failure, the importance of friendship, and the role leaders play in developing organizational culture.

You can access the entire library of entries on LinkedIn.

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