Exploring the Future of Work: A Hot Topic in Learning & Development

Whether we are ready for it or not, the Future of Work has arrived. While this has been triggered by socio-economic developments and technological advancement, the COVID-19 pandemic has served to accelerate change in how we work at individual and organisational levels. As a result, Learning and Organisational Development (L&OD) teams must evolve and adapt to lead the way as our workplaces continue to transform in coming months and years. 

The Pace of Change is Fast  

Five-and-ten-year plans are no longer as relevant as they once were. Technology is continuing to develop quickly and bring new ideas and ways of working to the fore. Organisations have had to adapt, particularly during the last two years, to an increased necessity for work from home and hybrid office/home set-ups. While leaders and employees alike have learned to work within these new parameters, this flexibility has created innovation and exploration within our corporate culture.  

Clarity is the Defining Factor 

Change must be managed effectively and efficiently. To do this, keeping your overall vision in place is important but create defined, smaller action steps for organisational development and transformation. And be clear about:  

  • Why you need to do so 
  • What you need to transform  
  • The sequence of steps involved to achieve the desired change 
  • The benefits of the change 
  • The planned outcome and how it will be measured 

Breaking the concept of change into to workable actions with set timeframes will help leaders and staff swiftly address immediate concerns within your organisation.  

 ‘Corporate digital nomads’ are the new norm 

Our increasing ability to work remotely has birthed a blend of creative freelancers and corporate types, which has had, and will continue to have a significant impact on the Future of Work in Australia.  

Now is the time for L&OD teams to consider future opportunities regarding how, when and where work can be done to ensure high performance from individuals and teams and improve productivity levels, all while keeping an eye on staff wellbeing. This will be important as we forge new cohesive workplace strategies that encompass this evolving way of working.

Research, Education, and Awareness  

 These critical thinking areas are crucial to the Future of Work in Australia and globally. Leaders can no longer rely purely on workshop education and training occurring on specified occasions throughout the year. We must all set aside small pockets of time every day for research – reading books, abstracts and newsletters, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, and learning from others in our network – to become aware of developing trends within the world of work. 

There is a lot of information to absorb but, thankfully, technology can help us to make this a regular, ongoing practice though tapping into the experience of other people and organisations.  

Hearing other peoples’ stories tells us what is happening in our industries across the world and shows us what is coming our way. 

Accessing this information on a broad scale is exciting; fostering this awareness will help leaders navigate the fast pace of changing workplace structure and expectations. 

Coaching – a leadership skill that benefits everyone 

Leaders must strive for continuous improvement by challenging the status quo. Workplaces are no longer static environments with defined hierarchies. To become more aware, we must learn to ask good, insightful questions and really listen to the answers of our peers and employees.  

Diversity of skills, knowledge and experiences offer leaders a unique perspective 

Coaching involves listening as well as teaching. A crucial skill for leaders to develop within the focus on Future of Work, coaching ensures that we become aware which aspects of the workplace we need to pay attention to, and which organisational strategies are best to employ in this ever-changing environment. 

 Psychometric assessments are also becoming a more defined and useful tool 

L&OD teams can use the insights in psychometric tools to determine, for example, who might need more support in leading a remote team who is going through significant change, rather than just assuming that they are sufficiently skilled and hoping that they succeed.  

How does AI and new technology affect the Future of Work? 

Added to the impact of technological advances is the discussion about the future of Artificial Intelligence and how this will be implemented into our workplaces. Will robots really take over our jobs? 

While this topic is complex and nuanced, there are tasks that absolutely can (and should) be automated. Aspects of our work will be replaced by AI and other software and technological developments.  

This gives leaders the perfect opportunity to focus on Emotional Intelligence in our organisations. 

When boring or monotonous tasks can be delegated to AI, people become free to explore more creative endeavours, that AI can’t do. According to Dan F Stapleton’s 2021 HRM news article,

‘…most economists have concluded that technological unemployment… frees the workforce to take on new tasks, inspiring overall productivity and increasing our prosperity.’ 

From a Future of Work perspective, it is important for L&OD teams to be aware of the impacts of technology and get a head start on creating their organisation’s competitive advantage through: 

  • Assessing the external environment 
  • Understanding what is happening and why 
  • Identifying the skills and values of human employees 
  • Knowing what can be improved and augmenting for the future. 

L&OD and Leadership Teams must set the direction for their organisations. There is a distinct need for L&OD teams to become embedded in the business and engage everyone in the exploration of what the Future of Work looks like, as it will dramatically change how we engage our employees and how they expect to be treated. Development of learning and organisational strategies tailored to the individual is an ideal way to embrace these changes and attract the best talent to your organisation. 

Now is the perfect time to translate what we’ve learnt during the pandemic into a cohesive and sustainable workplace strategy that’s relevant and future-fit. 

To explore the Future of Work in your organisation, contact Ali Local +61 (0) 404 111 745 or Ali@CamertonConsulting.com 

Ali loves to talk about Cultural Transformation in the Workplace. She’s available as a keynote speaker for your next event, or explore her insights through vibrant podcast conversation. For more information contact Ali on Local +61 (0) 404 111 745 or Ali@CamertonConsulting.com. 

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