Future of Work, should one be prepared?

It's not just about evaluating training sessions, it's about continuously engaging the newly acquired skills to stay relevant.

Future of Work, should one be prepared?

Yesterday, after we pick our girl from school, we decided to take a quick bite before dropping her off at her after-school program centre. It was a hot sunny afternoon, hence KFC was the most convenient for us as it is along the way, and of course, it is fast food in an air-conditioned environment. What else can we ask for?

As we enter the outlet, similar to many other prominent fast-food eateries, this outlet is already equipped with a self-ordering kiosk. I anticipate it will be a fast transaction as there were fewer people in the queue and the counter. The self-ordering kiosk is nothing new as these technologies have already existed since the early 2000s.

Gone are the days that we have to wait in line the long queues to order from the counter as the front counter staff will have to multi-task to take orders, transact payment and serve the customers. These kiosk ordering systems also come along with many other features and can seamlessly integrate with payment systems like a digital e-wallet or other modes of credit or debit card transaction. This self-ordering kiosk will ease the restaurant queue so that the workers can focus on fulfilling the orders.

Not forgetting, having this self-kiosk ordering system helps to promote social distancing and minimize face-to-face contact between their workers and their customers especially during this time of the pandemic. I believe there will be more of this retail concept in the future.

We should anticipate that in this era of industrial revolution and digitalization, many organizations and businesses are evolving and they started to automate and digitalize their business model to stay competitive. 

We cannot deny the fact that many business owners would like to deploy such technologies to improve their business models. These smart technologies will help them to improve their operations, staff productivity and reduce labour costs to gain more efficiency. They need to stay competitive therefore, being digital is the way forward to help businesses to stay ahead of their competitors. But once, the business starts to automate, implement smart technologies and digital solutions, what will happen to their workers?

Back o KFC, with the self-ordering kiosk, the front-liners that used to take orders have to refocus their work to prepare and serve the food quickly. The work and responsibilities have changed. They are no longer measured to take the right orders and manage the cash transaction. They are ease from the pressure at the front counter. Hence, their performances are measured differently.

Now with the Digital and Gig Economy at the forefront, fortunately, or unfortunately, we will see more jobs being eliminated and these jobs will be supplemented with more on-demand or niche skills work. We also see more evolution of workers seeking from full-time employment to independent or freelance work, which is also known as "Giggers". This gig economy is growing and even EPF has reported and seen 31% growth in freelancing.

We need to accept the fact that in the future, there will not be enough jobs but strategically; there will be more work for niche skills and on-demand specific work. Therefore, many workers are encouraged to reskill or upskill themselves. 

However, there are still lots of employees or workers who resist reskilling or upskilling, not because they don't want to but more because they were not educated on the purpose of reskilling and upskilling objectively.

Therefore, the organization's learning and talent development need to be structured objectively to complement the business transformation strategy. The effectiveness of learning will help employees and workers to develop skills, knowledge and prepare both organization and individuals for the future. It is not about evaluating the training sessions; it is about continuously engaging the newly developed skills and staying relevant with the trained employees or workers. As such, mapping the trained employees to the organization's goal and strategy including continuously evaluating the new skills acquired will help with the organization's business transformation journey.

We need to comprehend the wave of business and digital transformation ;

  • we will see more adoption of blockchain solutions as this will accelerate business transformation
  • we will see more workplace evolution i.e. the work, workplace, and workers according to SHRM
  • will impact employees' existing roles and jobs thus will create unemployment and underemployment
  • will help the organization to reassign underemployed employees to on-demand work
  • will create fit for purpose to newer generation growth
  • will see more openings of borders for jobs and works opportunities as workers are connected and accessible across the globe, hence niche skills will be in demand
  • will have accessibility for niche  skills globally which will help with short term or ad-hoc projects

So, what does one need to prepare for the future of work?

Businesses and individuals need to change and have a growth mindset; this will help one

  • to refocus on their employment and career strategy
  • to explore different skills and find hidden talent
  • to innovate organization growth and stay ahead of the competition
  • to be more collaborative as the future of work need skills to work with machine and smart technologies
  • to get noticed in the workplace with new skills
  • to become more independent and prepare for any eventually
  • be self-sufficient even as the job you are familiar with will be eliminated soon
  • to increase their demand for new opportunities elsewhere
  • to understand the fundamentals as to how the gig economy will help both businesses and individuals in their future work

At the end of the day, the future of work needs a fundamental critical-thinking mindset, problem-solving skills, and the ability to work collaboratively. Workers need to stay afloat to prepare for any consequences when the future of work does not fit their current skills. Be innovative, embrace a growth mindset, and seek opportunities to learn new skills by reskilling and upskilling.

"Lead Digital, Think Digital, Govern Digital"