“Humans (People) are underrated.” Elon Musk tweeted those words back in 2018, but they still ring just as true in 2020. Humans (People) ARE underrated. Especially in the workplace. In the keynotes and workshops we’ve delivered for organizations around the world who want to get a handle on what the future of work will be, we posited that all these discussions about the future overlook most important person: the worker, yes the People.
Back in 2016, the World Economic Forum predicted that Emotional Intelligence would be one of the top 10 skills people needed to cultivate in order to thrive in 2020. Well, it’s 2020 and guess what? In the midst of a global pandemic, remote work, and social distancing, we need People more than ever. But when the threat of COVID-19 is gone, we won’t stop needing People. The need for human skills (emotional intelligence, creativity, people management, etc.) will only continue to grow as our workplaces become increasingly automated.
Machines Don’t Erase the Need for Human Workers – They Create a New Need
A new article from MIT Sloan Management Review (Brynjolfsson and Beane) looked at the role of robots in our workplaces and made some surprising conclusions for our post-pandemic world. Chief among them is the idea that the workplace of the future will more than likely involve humans working alongside machines, rather than machines putting humans out of a job. In their interview with CNN, the researchers remarked that “there is a whole spectrum of having humans and machines work together. You can choose different points on the range in this division of labor, but in almost every case, you want humans doing some of the task.”
To summarize their findings, machines are great at doing certain things for us. Things that are repetitive and don’t require creative problem-solving. But that’s not all that happens inside our workplaces. We’re constantly challenged by unique problems, situations, and team dynamics. Things happen every single day that no machine could ever be programmed to deal with. But we humans are uniquely suited to solving the unpredictable. So rather than replacing our jobs, machines instead create a new need for humans in the workplace of the future – alongside new career opportunities.
New Jobs Will Emerge
Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum released a new report analyzing the workplace of the future to make predictions about the jobs of tomorrow. They identified seven emerging professional clusters and the necessary skills we should be cultivating for careers in each. In the summary of their report, they made the following remark: “While disruptive technology skills such as data science and AI skills will certainly be critical to the future of work, so will caregiving, leadership, and the ability to provide learning and development. In other words, the transition to the new world of work will be both human- and tech-centric.”
Machines aren’t going to replace us. Instead, they are paving the way for us to assume new roles – roles best suited to our own very human talents and skills. Our Strengths and Story. The most successful managers of tomorrow will be able to effectively integrate and leverage the best of both worlds inside their organizations. Yes, that means investing in your people, reskilling them, and ensuring they have a pathway to learn and grow. But we know how to help organizations do that. We’ve been doing it for years with our clients in all kinds of industries – and we can help you, too.
We’ll Have to Learn New Skills
We are living through what’s been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that as many as 375 million people will need to change their occupation by 2030 – just ten years from now! Which means there’s going to be a lot of people in the world who’ll need to go back to school, get retrained, reskill, level up, or otherwise dramatically alter the work they’re doing today.
Increased investment in automation and technology means we’ll have to lean harder on those things machines can’t take from us. Those soft skills we’ve been talking about for years – emotional intelligence, relationship building, connection, communication, trust. All things that you can’t program into a robot. They don’t come easy to some of us and they can be hard to teach. But nothing is impossible when you have a proven system that works. We have that system plus tips and tools to help you and your organization succeed and help you find your relevance.
We’ve been saying it for years and we believe it still: People matter now more than ever and they’re going to matter even more in the workplace of the future. If you want your company to grow and thrive for years to come, you need to put your focus on people right now. Use our 3-hack system to help: turn your workplace upside down to ask your people what they want and need from you, help them find meaning and purpose in their work, and reskill them for what’s to come. People are the heart of an organization and no amount of technology is going to change that.
If you need help equipping your people and your organization to succeed in the workplace of the future, reach out to us to learn how we can help through our customized workshops, personalized, on-demand coaching, keynotes, and more.