The world of work in 2018

A little while ago, I attended a futures symposium organised by the European Futures Observatory and a network of professional futurists. One of the presentations was based on the newly published report (PDF 991 KB) on what the world of work in 2018 would look like by the Chartered Management Institute. The world of work has changed dramatically in the last decade. The management and leadership skills needed to survive or succeed today are very different from those of a generation ago, and those skills are likely to change significantly over the next generation.The report explores some of the issues that will be affecting organisations and organisational management in the future, poses five potential scenarios for the future and offers some advice for how to prepare for these.

The trends outlined in the report were identified in an environmental scanning analysis which mapped all the future trends likely to affect the future of work in 2018 (conducted by the Future Management Group). The environmental scanning report (PDF 1.11 MB) is well worth a read as it contains a PEST analysis of trends so could be a useful tool if your organisation is going to do some environmental analysis. These trends were tested on a range of organisational leaders across all sectors, futurologists and academics to create five possible perspectives of the future. The visions were produced using a method I’d never heard of called the Eltville Model. This differs from normal 2 by 2 scenario planning as it includes taking into account desired futures (or a vision), the probable future (the world now continued/assumptions) and unexpected futures (surprises). Third Sector Foresight members have been discussing the advantages and disadvantages of plausible and preferred futures here.

The report highlights some of the current trends affecting the work place and the future visions consider the different ways these might play out. Some of the most interesting things that struck me were:

Personal responsibilities will increase and so will people’s private needs. Attending to these will inevitably lead to blurring boundaries between work and life as people try to cope with numerous urgent demands. Work-life balance will be superseded by work-life integration.

There will be a change in the nature of business models and structures. There will be a polarisation from global corporates to virtual-community-based enterprises as the use of technology spreads leading to the reversal of traditional models of business and facilitating flexible working arrangements.

There will be increased ‘customer ‘involvement. With the growth of the empowered consumer and the user involvement agenda organisations will need technology that is able to capture and analyse implicit and tacit knowledge and allow the sharing of knowledge with users and partners in order to succeed.

Management skills will become more important. As work becomes even more knowledge centric, the ability to communicate ideas and persuade others will become an even more important skill. Changing expectations of work and the impact of new technologies will require managers and leaders to develop new skills. As the demography of the world changes, society will increasingly have an impact on behaviour and leadership styles at work. Emotional and spiritual intelligence and the ability to interact and communicate with others in accordance with their values will become more important.

Talent markets will become more complex in that they will be more diverse with regard to age, generational issues and culture. Organisations will have to address the growing power of the employee and the need for personalised working patterns and benefits. Career paths have become more varied and a diverse population requires organisations to offer more flexible strategies for recruitment, retention and development. People no longer follow a linear career path and skilled employees are very mobile and exert considerable employment power. Organisations need to build in more entry points for people at different stages of their career. The VCS might need to think about people transferring across from other sectors. Generation Y is also entering the workplace and some analysis suggests that they may have significantly different expectations of work to previous generations. They might be less interested in requiring wealth and more interested in personal fulfilment, stimulation and working for an organisation which shares their values. This again might be good news for the VCS who can be seen to have a competitive advantage in this area. (See importance of organisational values.)

What are some of the key skills that you think might be essential to your organisation in the future? The '2007 Voluntary Sector Skills Survey’ by NCVO which we wrote about here identified a number of challenges for employers in the VCS in relation to skills gaps and needs in the sector.

Last updated at 18:01 Mon 12/Apr/10.
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How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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