7 Predictions For The Future Of Work

We might not have holographic conference calls or teleporting commutes (yet), but corporate anthropology can give us a realistic glimpse of our futures in the workplace.

Everything you thought you knew about the workplace is already outdated.

Gone are the days when decisions were made from the top down and when all anyone was expected to do was simply "their job." As a Corporate Anthropologist, I study the cultures of organizations—how they evolve and intersect with what’s happening right now, and how the people in them influence and shape their communities.

The talent pool will grow

As the use of robotics and automation technology increase, humans will no longer be asked to perform rote tasks. That means the nature of jobs will change. Greater connectivity means we will have greater access to talent literally all over the planet.

A new form of labor pool and market where individuals, project teams, or even entrepreneurial companies (that are really just teams of teams) from all over the world will bid on high-value tasks and opportunities. This new dynamic will not only increase the efficiency of organizations, it will also change the notion of what "managing" means. It will also create competitive pressures for organizations to embrace global languages and cultural awareness as a way to appeal to the most talented workers.

Collaboration will be the norm

The type of company—and people—that will thrive in this new environment will embrace collaboration and teamwork. I call them the Betas. The old-fashioned Alpha way of doing business—top-down, command-and-control—will no longer be viable.

As Alpha methods die out, employers will be looking for innovators, technologists, and big thinkers. Data managers will remain in high demand as will people with the skills to manage a diverse workforce.

A rise in "limited contracts"

As we move into a craftsman and service economy, people will work for organizations for two to four years with incentives built in to compensate them for the level of impact they bring to the organization.

Specialization will be even more essential

The flatter and more networked the workplace becomes, the more essential it will be for people to continually build their skillset and maintain a level of specialization that enables them to stand out in a crowd of talent.

Social networks become a way to partner

Workers at all levels will need to market themselves through their social networks, forming partnerships and gaining influence by striking deals based on their deep skill specialization.

Everyone will become an entrepreneur

People will work for and with many clients and partners simultaneously. At the same time, individuals will have greater control over the kind of work they tackle and how they are compensated.

Individual contribution, not pay grade, will be rewarded

With a more peer-to-peer network in place, individuals stand to reap greater rewards than in the more inefficient hierarchical systems of the past where those at the top of the pyramid paid themselves first. Rewards will be tied to the value of an individual’s contribution and not to any artificial title.

The future of work will be different than it is today and, as the old adage says, fortune favors the prepared.

Dana Ardi, Ph.D. is the founder of Corporate Anthropology Advisors and the author of The Fall of the Alphas: The New Beta Way to Connect, Collaborate, Influence—And Lead.

[Image: Flickr user Andrew Hart]

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  • It is an exciting era we’ve entered thats for sure. But it has the Mad Max feel too - the strongest will only survive. The stress will become unbearable, yet it seems that’s the only way forward

  • Olivier Riviere

    More specialization, indeed? Who is going to help organisarion and people cope with ambiguity? In all due respect, specialisation and common thinking (= driven by trends and fashion) is today's most dangerous collective disease. This article is a compilation of banalities.

  • If people tend to specialize themselves, it will require some people to be able to make links between hyperspecialized coworkers as well. So along with specialization, generalist profile will be even more required.

  • A good deal of wishful thinking here.

    Unfortunately, new it technology in the workplace tend to afford command-and-control management, reinforce hierarchy, and strengthen top-down decision making.

    The new emphasis on targets and documentation leads to tracking and monitoring of employees.

    The sad case is, that although technology has truly empowered us as consumers, in our private lives, in the workplace the trend is the opposite.

  • On target with 7 workplace trends. We operate a coworking space in Durango, CO and the Beta work force is already here. We are seeing more horizontal teams, less top down; increased virtual teams (across space, time & organizational boundaries). And more independents (indies) and contractors on projects. Less traditional employees.

  • Mir Ahsan

    What about work hours? Will they increase? Decrease? Also if things are more contract based will people have something to lean back on when out of a job?