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3 Trends Shaping the Workforce of the Future

January 23, 2019

Workforce of the future

Trends taking hold in business today offer us a view of the future workforce—one that will require new approaches to work from individuals and organizations. Alexandra Levit, a workplace expert and futurist, discussed three trends affecting the workforce of 2030 in a podcast with AMA Edgewise.

Levit, the author of Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future (Kogan Page, 2018), refers to these trends as the “three Cs”: collaboration, customization, and creativity. In her AMA interview, she shared some insights into the emerging workforce:

Collaboration. By 2030, teams will be assembled on a short-term basis to solve specific problems, then disbanded once those issues are addressed. “You might work with someone for two days who you’ll never see again,” Levit said. “And so…establishing bonds with people who you have short-term relationships [with] becomes very important.”

As machines become increasingly sophisticated, we’ll also see hybrid teams of humans and machines. Levit cautioned that as companies incorporate machines into their business, they must consider not only the cost perspective but also the potential impact of data-driven decisions on their corporate reputation. Humans must be in the loop, she said, because “machines don’t have morality.”

Collaboration will be impacted by the growing use of remote teams and contract workers as well. The trend toward contract work is moving quickly, Levit said, with about a fourth of the global workforce already working for multiple employers. Companies need systems to manage various aspects of the contract workforce. And as automation affects jobs and more people work for themselves, they must be prepared to market themselves and develop their skills to succeed in the new environment.

Customization. People will have customized careers in the future workforce, as opposed to following, for example, the career path taken by their boss. “Everyone’s going to be required to have a wide bench of cross-functional expertise so that you can play a lot of different roles within the company,” Levit said. She added that “productivity wearables” will help managers determine what individuals do best.

Creativity. In the age of smart machines, Levit said, “creativity is probably the most important skill that human beings can bring to the table.” It takes human creativity to determine whether a new product is authentic, what motivates people, and how morality affects decisions.

Employees need to be creative regardless of their jobs, Levit noted. For tech people who haven’t used creative skills, whose jobs may be in danger of being automated, it’s important to focus on creativity and the associated skills, such as intuition, judgment, empathy, and interpersonal sensitivity. “We really need to [practice these skills], because those are where human beings are going to add value in the future,” she said.

For more insight into the future workforce, listen to the podcast with Alexandra Levit.

Visit the AMA Edgewise archives for other podcasts.

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American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.

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