Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Finding work that needs doing – Ten changes to the world of work (Part 1)

Welcome back! While we are talking about the issue of the changing work landscape, let us introduce the perspective of the
Gartner Inc.; this posting is the first in a two-part overview of their perspective on the changing world of work, which was presented during the Content and Collaboration Summit 2010, in London. While we are looking at their research on the issue, we will also reflect on their perspective from the Integrative Life Planning (ILP) approach.

Today’s posting will introduce the first five of ten thoughts they have on changes to the world of work, which are bound to take place over the next ten years.

1. My place:

Gartner Inc. suggested that the place where work was to be done, would increasingly become more virtual, in the sense that meetings would be taking place across many time zones and where participants may not even have met the person they are communicating with. Going to a physical office will become less commonplace and work will tend to be done around the clock. The line between personal, social, professional, and other matters will become increasingly blurred, and may even disappear in some instances. As you may imagine, these changes will also impact individuals, who will need to find a way of coping with the demands from work and home. Upon reading the above, I could not help but think back to the work of William Bridges, which I referred to in the previous posting.

2. Hyperconnected:

The second aspect they are anticipating with regards to the changing world of work, is what they refer to as hyperconnectedness – this phenomenon is a function of the fact that most companies are operating within “networks of networks”, and which they do not have any direct control over. The manner, in which corporations are connected, will impact on how work in organisations is done, and how this work will be supported by the information technology infrastructure. Having looked at this notion, I think it is imperative to find a way in which the impact on individual workers will be managed at that time – yes, there is already a huge level of integration taking place on an IT level, but this is bound to increase even further over the next ten years.

3. Pattern sensitivity

This is quite an interesting bit of reading to get stuck in. Gartner Inc. have done some interesting work on what they refer to as Pattern-based Strategy. The statement they are making, is that over the next ten years there is bound to be a significant increase in the number of organisations or groupings, which are interested in detecting “divergent emerging patterns”; in addition to identifying these patters, they will also be interested in evaluating those trends, and will apply their insight to business strategy in a direct manner. If we were to consider how individuals may utilise the above-mentioned strategy on a personal level, I think we will come up with some interesting approaches. Essentially, individuals will do well by becoming more adept at reading trends, whether on a personal or occupational level, and to react to these in a strategic manner. Those individuals that are able to read the signs, should be able to capitalise on their insight by ensuring that they remain professionally relevant, i.e. that they have the skills set required within their industry.

4. Simulation and experimentation

According to the work done by Gartner Inc., they are anticipating a significant increase in the prevalence of virtual environments. This implies a rise in the use of what they refer to as n-dimensional virtual representations of all different sorts of data. This implies that in future individuals will interact with data by constantly changing or tweaking the parameters through which the view data in the simulated environments is viewed. Although we may be looking at an increase in the use of simulation in the workplace, the need to (also) pay attention to the impact of this anticipated change on individual workers becomes clear.

5. Spontaneous work

The issue of spontaneity refers to a proactive approach to work in terms of which new opportunities are identified and pursued and, where indicated, new models and designs are conceptualised. If one were to compare this proactive style of work to a previous era where organisations and individuals were often seen to (merely) react to contextual changes, it would be imperative to also think of how these anticipated changes will impact individual workers and how they think about themselves and their careers. The task of the career counsellor or career coach will thus require intervention in terms of determining a proactive personal approach to this changing environment. If one really thinks laterally, individuals in all spheres of business wil need to become more intrapreneurial and / or entrepreneurial in an attempt to (also) be proactive and get busy with spontaneous work. The Integrative Life Planning model of Hansen also comes to mind in this respect – the first critical task identified in terms of this approach, refers to finding work that needs doing.

In my next posting I will introduce the remaining five ideas postulated by Gartner Inc. as a function of their research on the topic. The issues under discussion were formulated with a view on the organisation of the future; we need to spare some thought on how these anticipated changes could potentially change the world of work of the individual.

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