As 2021 comes to a close, it is an important time for reflection. This time of reflection provides us an opportunity to revisit this video from 2011. In this video, I project what the future of work might look like. Whether insightful or fortuitous, many of my observations hold true today. This is the future of work – a reflection.
This video is of a presentation I did 11 years ago. I have to say I am impressed with my past futurist self. Honestly, it was not that hard to predict what was going to happen, I just connected the dots. Admittedly, I had no idea how long this future was going to take to materialize.
In 2011, I hit on the following major points:
Outsourcing trends will continue. This holds true today. Whether outsourcing domestically or offshore, there are a multitude of companies handling everything from IT, human resources, payroll, etc. As the gig economy and demographic changes continue to happen, along with the great resignation we are experiencing, and the growth of small businesses, the gig and service economy has become the outsourced economy. My thinking back then was more about manufacturing jobs. However, I underestimated what would happen regarding services for businesses. I project this outsourced economy will continue to grow and mature.
Communication between generations in the workforce have and always will be challenging. Older generations think younger generations do not work hard, or that they’re fundamentally changing the workplace. Younger workers have the same values as older workers, they just have difference expectations. I believed that these expectations would have a profound effect on how business is conducted, and they have. Today, worker’s expectations are forcing companies to rethink how they engage their communities. 10 years ago, I predicted these people would be leading our companies, and of course that is true. These paradigm shifting expectations will continue to force changes in the workplace culture for the better.
In 2011, I believed we were past the stage of figuring out how to produce technology, but rather in a stage where we are making technology useful. Then in their infancy, I believed the use of cloud technology would take over and produce sweeping changes in business operations. This has never been truer. An outage in the Amazon Web Service cloud caused massive disruptions to several large businesses. Back then I called this the wild west of business and predicted sweeping technology changes. That is especially true in terms of social technologies. Social technology users in 2011 totaled less than one billion. However, today user totals hover around 4.5 billion. Now all we must do is figure out how to use these social technologies most effectively and not use it to tear us apart. In this next period, I am confident that will improve social technologies to make the human experience work even better.
The Next Ten
The study of organizational development shows us a clear path to what we, as social beings, are evolving to. I still think this is the wild west of business (As I state in the video), but more in a sustainable and positive sense. We were infants experiencing these changes for the first time. But now, we have the experiences of advancement and setback both in business and society. From here we must take the lessons learned and begin to transform organizations into more productive and happy places. The future will be about integration of humanity with technology for better culture and working experiences. The young people will lead us there. My advice is to follow them.
Reflection is not whether we acted or not, but to develop an understanding of how we might act in the future. This requires examining trends and taking calculated risk. If you are interested in learning more information about these concepts, let’s have a conversation.