Written by Josie Aplin on 07 Dec 2016
What does the future of work look like to you?
Does it mean automation and robots taking over our jobs?
Does it mean waving bye bye to the traditional job role, as we make way for a new generation of agile freelancing individuals and teams, jumping from project to project?
Maybe it's the increase of flexible working?
Or is it the movement away from qualifications and certificates in favour of skills, portfolios and recommendations?
We've curated some of the latest articles on what the future of work looks like, from six months paid parental leave, to an alternative education facility created by one of Britain's favourite entrepreneurs. The future of work may be closer than you think.
The Future of the Professions
We’ll kick off with this video featuring a father and son team, Richard and Daniel Susskind, who talk about ‘The Future of the Professions’. By this, they mean the possibility of ‘increasingly capable systems’ taking over from traditional human expert roles.
Although roles like doctors, teachers and lawyers won’t become a thing of the past just yet, these ‘capable systems’ (which would utilise technology, such as telepresence and artificial intelligence), will certainly change the value of human experts going forward.
It’s an interesting theory. And if you’ve got kids, then the thought of employing an intelligent robot to help you cope with the chaos that is breakfast, the school run and bath time might actually be quite appealing.
However, in the absence of a smart robot, an understanding employer, who was realistic about childcare needs and the strain (and joy) of being a new parent, would suffice. Right?
Striking the perfect work-life balance…
If you have a full house at home, you’ll be familiar with the constant battle against the clock, rushing to get the kids ready for school, busying yourself at work and then rushing back for the last few minutes of your child’s day to read them a bedtime story.
For many working families, this are the realities of life they have come to accept. But for those working for outdoor clothing wear company, Patagonia, family time isn’t compromised by endless emails and 5pm meetings.
The Patagonia offices feature onsite childcare, facilitated by qualified teachers. Parents can pop down to see their little darlings during the day and even go fruit picking with them in the secret garden. Older children are ferried from school back to the Patagonia offices, so parents can chat to them about their day and share a post-school snack.
The investment into this initiative has been incredibly successful, with one hundred per cent of Patagonia mums returning to work after having a child.
It's initiatives such as this, and Patagonia's diverse workforce (where fifty per cent of the management and leadership teams are made up of women) that has resulted in plenty of positive feedback on Glassdoor.
And anyway, at the end of the day, when you’ve got Obama as an advocate, you know you’re doing something right.
Four other companies perfecting the balancing act
Patagonia may be an excellent example of a business taking large strides towards promoting work-life balance, but they’re not the only ones making a positive impact.
In the US, companies with more than 50 staff must offer new parents at least 12 weeks off. However, this time does not have to be paid and incredibly, most organisations choose not to pay their employees.
As the battle for attracting and retaining the best talent reigns on, US businesses have started to to realise that paid paternity and maternity leave is now an expectation and there are more and more companies that are putting work-life balance at the top of their agenda.
Along with Patagonia, these big names have found the sweet spot for work-life balance for their employees.
Netflix: Hourly-paid employees get between 12 and 16 weeks of maternity and paternity leave. Salaried staff get a year off and can return in either a part time or full time capacity.
On top of this, Netflix is one of a growing number of businesses with an unlimited vacation policy.
Spotify: Spotify offers six months’ parental leave with 100% pay, which can be spread out up until the child’s third birthday.
Facebook: The social media giant offers 21 days’ holiday (the US standard is 14 days) and unlimited sick days. When Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla had baby Maxima, he took two months off (and jumped on Facebook to post pictures of himself changing nappies).
Bank of America: It’s not just the creative and digital companies who are leading the way with work-life balance. Bank of America offers 16 weeks of paid parental leave, which can be taken over the course of your child’s first year.
Tuning into Emotional Intelligence
As a business, being empathetic to your employees’ home life situation, especially when a new baby is involved, is commendable and now, emotional intelligence in individuals has been touted as one of the most desirable jobs skills in 2020.
Seventy-one per cent of HR professionals and hiring managers cited emotional intelligence as a preferable skill over IQ, with three-quarter saying they would be more likely to promote a highly intelligent worker and over half claiming they would pass up on hiring a candidate with high IQ but low emotional intelligence.
Several reasons come into play as to why emotional intelligence is such a desired skill. Those with high emotional intelligence are able to handle pressure and are less likely to get stressed out when plans change or a client calls with a ‘small query’, that turns into a three-hour long project.
Emotionally intelligent individuals have an affable and friendly character. They are more likely to get along with everyone in the office and can become a key person of influence. Their empathy can help them make more rounded judgements in situations where those who are less emotionally intelligent will only think about the impact that the outcome will have on themselves.
Got The Most Desired Skills?
Emotional intelligence is useful, but before you start tuning into your more understanding side, remember it’s hard skills that are still needed to keep the business ticking along.
Let’s talk about LinkedIn and their recent study on the most desirable skills they want from their employers.
LinkedIn analysed thousands of user data from the past year to identify the most sought after skills and came up with definitive top ten skills lists for key markets across the globe.
Although there are slight differences between each area, there are familiar themes running through each list:
Marketers are in less demand: SEO and SEM have dropped down the most desirable skills list, and marketing campaign management has disappeared completely. There’s no denying these skills are important, but with more and more people possessing them and matching employer needs, businesses are not citing them as a demand.
Data and cloud skills: It’s no surprise as employees with these data and cloud skills are hot property. These people are capable of utilising cutting edge technology to maximum effect. Anyone with these skills, and in particular data mining and statistical analysis, should be shouting from the rooftops that they have them.
UX: Creating cutting edge technology is great, but it’s not going to be very useful unless anyone can use it. That is why user experience is a skill that ranks very highly on most country lists as well as the overall list.
Data presentation: This is a new entry. Data presentation skills, where data is presented in a meaningful and straightforward way, are also in big demand.
Engineering magnate, James Dyson, is launching a new educational institution, focussing on STEM in a bid to improve the skills shortage in the UK.
The Dyson Institute of Technology will partner with Warwick University and offer degree level courses in engineering to those students who have achieved a minimum of 340 UCAS points or an AAB at A level. Students will need to have an A in maths and another STEM-related subject.
The idea for the Centre came about after Dyson spoke to Jo Johnson, the universities minister. She inspired Dyson to open his own educational centre, with Dyson commenting,
“We are competing globally with Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore. It’s all the major technology nations and we have got to be better than them.”
“The Dyson Institute of Technology will not only offer students the chance to study on cutting-edge, degree-level programmes, it will also play a vital role in educating the next generation of much needed engineers,”
The Dyson Institute of Technology will open in Autumn 2017 in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.
WeWork Partners with Microsoft
WeWork is known as the office space provider for small businesses and they have just announced a partnership with Microsoft to house 300 Microsoft employees in the New York City and Atlanta.
Normally, the small space provider offers private businesses space for teams of between 1 – 100 to work, offering hardwired internet, tea, decent coffees, and even beer.
The reason behind the partnership is improving flexibility. Using WeWork office locations, where in NYC they have 30 different office buildings, allows Microsoft employees to better manage their time and manage client meetings. They can book time as and when they need it, getting their own work done or hiring private conference rooms for client meetings.
What is your vision of the future of work? How will you attract and accommodate tomorrow's workforce? Let us know in the comments below...