Why the future of work won't feel like work
Technology is getting so smart, it will replace 25 million jobs over the next 10 years according to research.
To put it in perspective – this is 3x more than it was the case during the financial crises.
And to top it – it doesn’t only affect low skill jobs.
Machines are getting more advanced with predicative analytics so even highly qualified roles are at risk of getting replaced.
But instead of being fearful and against innovation, we need to be excited about this change ahead and embrace it as it will create new jobs, which are more centered on human traits like emotions and creativity rather than on executing boring tasks that we hate doing anyway and make us grumpy.
This changed nature of work also opens the opportunity to create environments where people love to work but also generates innovation that we need to replace those millions of jobs to tech.
The key factor behind staying relevant is to rediscover what makes us human and creating a new generation of human-centered jobs which also allow unlocking the hidden passions and with that, unique strengths for something we care every day.
Keep in mind: is that it is us humans who create this problem of automation ourselves.
Not just because we are the ones building robots but we still hold on to this factory mindset of standardization where we define jobs around residual tasks and pay people for the number of hours they put in to do it.
We still create narrow job descriptions like cashier, taxi driver, … and then ask people to form entire careers around delivering this one skill set.
This leads to 2 dangerous side effects:
It puts those people to risk of being replaced by robots as this singular focused task is the easiest to be replaced by machines.
But it also results in having millions of unhappy people who have unbelievably boring lives and just exist rather than create (aka delivering no innovation = progress = better lives).
Take the example of call centre staff – they read scripts, click screens, tick boxes … they act more like machines than humans and are at risk of getting replaced by bots and AI.
But there are millions out there doing this task as this form of ‘conversation’ is still a powerful way of addressing problems, getting answers … just having the assurance of being able to get in touch with someone/something behind the brand, product or service.
To counter act this, we need to create new jobs that cannot be replaced by machines.
These are the ones that focuses on what makes humans – specifically what makes us as individuals – unique.
New jobs are focusing not on the tasks but on the skills that humans can bring to the table.
Robots are great to replace repetitive tasks and draining work that people hate doing anyway as there is no creative stimuli. I love sorting boxes…. Said no one ever.
Humans on the other hand are great at bringing together capability with creativity which can solve problems we have never seen before.
And this is where it goes wrong
Too many companies are (still) asking their staff to just come to work and do their job (aka perform tasks) but if those are going to be done by robots eventually or the decisions are being made by AI, what are you going to do?
As a leader, it is our responsibility to think pro-actively about the tasks that are currently performed by people but will be(come) irrelevant and disappear and create more meaningful and valuable work to replaces them.
We need to create environments where robots AND human beings can drive.
So let’s embrace giving more work to robots that we hate doing anyway (hello book-keeping) and focus on delivering value that only we as humans can do – bridging capabilities with creativity to create solutions to solve problems that bug us.
Companies often say they want to be more innovative and I often get asked the question (mainly but not exclusively from ‘stale’ companies) if the primary ‘motivation’ of not being innovative from a candidate’s perspective is due to a lack of ideas or lack of talent?
Well … It actually is neither one.
It is an ‘empowerment’ problem.
Talents are not given the opportunity to come up with new ideas because of their rut and routine they are stuck in.
So rather than giving them tasks to perform, give them the responsibility to identify their own uniqueness and strength:
- What can you bring to the team?
- Build something and be anything you have ever wanted for a day. What would it be?
This way people can discover hidden skills and abilities they haven’t known they had which in return creates value and generates millions of dollars (yes – now we are talking ROI).
I encourage you to flex muscles that you never have dreamed of ever using at work, learn new skills, meet new people – this is the way of staying ahead and relevant for the economy of tomorrow.
DO NOT rely on your boss to tell you what’s the next step in your career – create it yourself and take control over your own happiness. Let’s face it – if you don’t do it, nobody else will either.
This is where the rubber hits the road
Being creative and innovative – dreaming of solutions to problems that people have annoyed by for years and giving them the chance to turn them into reality is the key here.
This part of ‘dreaming’ is the most important aspect that sets us apart from machines.
For now, machines don’t get frustrated, get annoyed or demotivated, they don’t imagine and they don’t feel pain.
But it is this pain, when we get frustrated with something that makes us most motivated to dig into this problem and are curious on finding ways to solve it.
And this is what creates change.
Imagination is the birthplace of Innovation. It is the driver to create new products, services and even new industries.
The future of jobs will come from the minds from those we call today
‘analysts’ and ‘specialists’ but only if we give them
freedom and protection they need to grow so they can explore and invent.
We as leaders need to get out of the mindset of telling them what to do but ask them what problem they are inspired to solve, what skill set they can bring to the table and what talents do they want to work on.
So go on – start by asking yourself:
- What are your biggest problems?
- What are your passions?
- What areas could you talk about and listen to until the cows come home?
- What are you really good at?
- And what would other people pay for?
Well – closing the gap between
a) what you enjoy doing
b) are really good at and much better than anyone else and
c) finding what people would pay money to get
is what makes you unique and is what defines you as your own Personal Brand.