Workplaces of Tomorrow
If you are reading this blog, you are either a parent, caregiver, teacher or a student yourself. You already understand that the world is rapidly changing, and it is only prudent to change along with it. We have covered this premise in our last two blogs which you can read here (Are Todays Education Systems Ready for Tomorrow?, Tomorrow that Starts Today). In this blog, I will take the premise forward and talk about the inevitable workplace evolution. Right from the first Industrial revolution, workplaces have been constantly evolving. With the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, by the year 2030, workplaces are going to completely transform. What will the workplace of 2030 look like? What will be the skills (both technical and life skills) that will be needed for such a workplace?No one can predict the future with complete accuracy. We can only attempt to foresee what lies ahead using current trends and views of other experts in the industry. Consolidating these inputs, I have created a snapshot of workplaces of tomorrow around five broad categories –
1. The Way We Work – how will work happen
“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate” – Tom Goodwin
- Employment models introduced in the first industrial revolution are dying. Work is no longer constrained in 9-5 jobs or constrained behind one desk or one machine. Flexible working hours, work from home, freelancers, work exchange programs are all changing the way people work. With a growing clan of digital nomads, people are balancing work and life constantly in a literal sense. By 2030, the boundaries between work and life will almost blur giving way to seamless work-life routines.
- Businesses/individuals are pooling in resources to create solutions for global communities. For example –Android, Wikipedia, etc. Moving into the future, collaboration will be even more valued than competition. By 2030, collaboration will be a mainstream phenomenon.
2. The Work we do – what skills will be in demand
- Technology will take over manual jobs at an unprecedent rate. These jobs will not only include low wage or blue-collar jobs or jobs which need low education but also professional jobs like radiologists, accountants, financial analysts and lawyers.
- Skills required in the market will be changing so rapidly that the most important skill in the coming years will be the speed at which one can learn something new and adapt to the changing ecosystem. Those who are not able to continuously learn and upgrade will find themselves left out.
3. How we learn – methods and ways of learning
We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist using technologies that haven’t been invented in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet – Karl Fisch, 2008
- Focus of learning will not be to memorize facts and figures or perform calculations faster than a computer. Focus of learning will be to get a macro view of the world, connect the dots and solve real world problems
- Knowledge will become more accessible at lesser or no cost
- Be it in the form of online information and courses or in-person meet ups, workshops, knowledge transfer will happen seamlessly. The only thing stopping you from learning something new will be “you” yourself.
- People will be constantly learning, upskilling/reskilling themselves to stay in tune with the demand of skills
- Regular schooling or college education will no longer be a norm with a large number of people moving to homeschooling/Unschooling. Degrees will wither in importance as the emphasis of education will shift from institutional process to educational outcomes.
4. How we earn – ways to earn money
- In the present-day world, jobs are the mechanism with which individuals earn money and sustain the economy. Going into the future, this might not be the case. With the advancement of technology, machines are likely to take over the jobs as well as the responsibility of running the economy leaving people free to do what they really want to do. Countries are already experimenting with Basic Income for its citizens to ensure that people have enough money to survive in such circumstances. By the year 2030, the concept of basic income will likely become common practice. In addition to basic income, incentives will be given to people who are contributing to the economy/nation/planet in some way. Basic income will allow people time to pursue passion without worrying about making ends meet. In such circumstances, people will come forward to help each other and collaborate in place of competing.
- Barter system will find way again in modern trade where services will be exchanged in return for services without any monetary transaction
- Dollars will follow the students more than the educators. It’s quite possible that federal and state aid that currently supports institutions of higher education will be transferred directly to students allowing them freedom to follow their passion, experiment and innovate in place of funding institutions and universities.
5. How we spend – where will consumers spend money
- Consumerism and materialism will slowly give way to minimalism, slow consumption and simple life. Sharing homes or cars will be the norm in place of owing them. The biggest spending will happen in areas where people find meaning for life, allowing them to connect with their inner self.
- Conscious living will be deeply ingrained. Bigger corporations will not go away but will be continuously challenged by smaller, creative businesses with right values.
Most people frown upon the Fourth Industrial Revolution holding it responsible for capitalism, breakdown of social value systems and an economy driven by the selfie culture. However, as the revolution sets in deeper and continues to transform lives, materialism will give way to minimalism and selfies supporting social causes will become a trend. Passion and innovation coupled with sense of social responsibility will be valued much more than degree-focused education. Learning will be an unending journey and hence the boundaries between school, college and professional life will disappear. The future world holds immense promise for our children. In the next blog, I will talk about the life skills that our children will need to flourish in this future world. Stay tuned and share if you believe in this future.