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Contemplating the Future of Work

Thought Leader
By Denise DeSimone, C-Leveled The future of work is talked about often. What will it look like? What factors will drive it? What will be a part of it? What will come from it? The advancements and innovations that technology has made on how we work are transformative. So it is equally as important, if not more so, that we take a deep look at the future of our workforce – the who behind the work. With automation and artificial intelligence (AI) advancements, what will the future of our workforce look like and what will happen to and for our people? As AI and task-automation continue to integrate into our workplaces, human skills, capabilities and potential expand. As more manual, technical, repetitive and physical components of work are offloaded, opportunities to do more creative, strategic and higher-skilled work requiring uniquely human traits – emotional intelligence, creativity, socialization, connection and collaboration – will be key to advancing people forward and maintaining critical humanizing elements within our work experiences. We’ll have to continue combating the negative perceptions of AI in the workforce in large-scale ways. People are fearful that their jobs will be taken away and that they will get left behind in the age of automation. Their fears are valid. The truth is that AI and automation will replace some jobs. But the larger truth is that this can be a good thing. Work will still exist, but it will be different kinds of work, requiring different skills and abilities. This new work will require people to access new parts of themselves in their work environments. Balancing artificial with emotional intelligence offers real people real opportunities to access and pursue their passions in and at work rather than adhering to highly structured, traditional and hierarchal methods of task generation and completion. Instead, this is about opening up possibilities that revolve around empowering people to work with purpose. The future of work creates an opening for us to get to the core of who people are as individuals and to leverage their unique wants, needs and motivators in ways that integrate work with life. As work evolves, hiring roles will need to think differently about the types of positions we are offering, the structure of those positions, our cultural environments, as well as how and why people are being recruited and hired. Rather than fulfilling a specific set of pre-determined skills and requirements, it will be important to focus on evaluating individual potential and passion to consider what traits cannot be qualified within a job posting, and to prioritize the emotional, social and critical intelligence skills that will likely never be automated. The future of our workforce is this: Time over technology. Collaboration over convenience. People over processes. Flexibility over functionality. We will put a focus on how and why we work and what and who powers it all. By actively creating workplace cultures that are connective, inclusive and that invite everyone to bring their most authentic selves to their work, we can integrate who people are and what they do in deeper and more meaningful ways. The future of work is thinking less about how it pays the bills and more about how it powers our souls. When it comes to the future of work and the future of our workforces, the most important thing to consider is that this isn’t something we can or should wait around for – it’s something we have the opportunity to actively contribute to and start creating now.