We are experiencing a crisis in big business. The rising pressure to prepare for and embrace the future of work, while relying on out-dated business models is cultivating an environment that could very well lead to a perfect storm.
The struggle is real: blue-chip companies are undertaking their seventh transformation in five years and only attracting the bottom 35th percentile of talent in their graduate recruitment programs (comparative to past years), diversity quotas aren’t being realised and the unhappiness of the professional worker is growing.
Remaining relevant has never been so relevant for the big end of town. How does one prepare for the unknown, innovate like a fast-growth startup, meet rising expectations, attract and retain the talent of the future and sustain business operations?
We return to our foundations. Business began with humans — people connecting and exploring possibilities — but we have lost our way. Technology was created to amplify human potential not replace it. Technology will only ever do what we as a society want it to do. So let’s take back control, put people front and centre and start humanising the future of work.
1. Start The Conversation
Awareness is the first step to change. But alas, when it comes to the impacts technology may have on our lives, many of us seem to be suffering from a severe case of Ostrich Syndrome. Burying our heads in the sand and hoping this too shall pass is a sure-fire route to the ethical demise of our society. We need to turn ostriches into eagles by kick-starting round-table conversations about macro trends in technology and the opportunities they present to us as individuals, communities, and businesses. I have been Future-Proofing councils, large corporations and community groups over the past six months. These conversations create an awareness that drives self-accountability and positive action.
2. Make Fear Your Future
Fear is the future and the greatest lever we have to create what we want from work and life. Skilling your people to lean in to fear by creating a culture where fear is embraced and celebrated produces resilience, greater happiness, diversity, and innovation. Explore the Bravery Masterclass to find out what fears are holding your people back and implement cultural interventions that help normalise and overcome these fears.
3. Cultivate Human Connection
Did you know that 82% of Australians believe loneliness is on the rise? Rapid advancements in technology have created a society motivated by convenience. But this convenience has come at a cost. We’ve never been more technologically connected yet humanly disconnected. Loneliness is scientifically proven to impact our physical and mental health negatively, along with our mortality. It appears we are also losing one of our most important skills: the art of challenging conversations learned through human connection.
Consider creating Human Hour, Human Day or even Human Week. This is time within your business that is focused purely on human connection. No slides, no technology, just the space for your people to connect and discuss what matters to them: social issues they’re interested in, problems they’d love to solve, trends they’re observing.
4. Let Your People Design Your Culture
If you want to create a place where humans love to work, who better to decide what this looks like than the people who currently work for you? Run focus groups to glean what makes your people happy and ask them how you could make your workplace happier. Then empower them to create the change through pilot programs using Agile methodologies.
5. Reskill and Redeploy
According to Citi and Oxfords Technology At Work Report, 57% of jobs across the OECD are at risk of automation. A powerful way to future-proof at-risk individuals is to channel a portion of learning-and-development budgets so they can explore future of work career options. You can also offer transition internships either internally or with external partners.
6. Go Back to School
According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children will work in jobs that don’t currently exist. How do we skill the next generation of leaders for work that we don’t yet understand? We partner with schools to develop educational programs that focus on building the uniquely human skills that will remain relevant regardless of their application —resilience, emotional intelligence, curiosity, problem-solving, human connection, collaboration, change management. We must invest in the next generation at a grass-roots level so we can develop business models that appeal to their desire for work.
7. Connect With Community
According to the Fujitsu Workplace 2025 White Paper, corporations will reduce their office footprints by up to 50% in the next seven years. The co-working footprint is also predicted to scale significantly as workers migrate to a more community-based work style. Reconnecting your people with their communities— and the innovators within them—is a powerful way to cultivate innovation within your company and happiness within your people. Co-working spaces are everywhere. Empowering your people to utilise these spaces, even just once a week, is a great way to humanise the future of work.
If you’d like to explore innovative ways to humanise the future of work in order to future-proof your people and your business click here to book a time.
Last week I started full time for eight weeks in the first Australian Antler Cohort in Sydney. Antler is an incubator program that focuses on creating the next wave of tech companies. They had over 1000 applicants but accepted only 71 amazing humans of which I was fortunate enough to be one. Some may consider this a success but at the end of week one, I found myself questioning if this is success, why do I feel so uncomfortable?