Work as we know it has changed.
Human progress is inevitable. And progress is impossible without change.
The industrial revolution required routine skills. Most of them are no longer sufficient to thrive and do better in the current evolution of work.
William Gibson once said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
Today, any field including, legal, finance, biotech, infotech, nanotech, energy, healthcare, education etc. is wide open to revolutionary transformational developments.
Automation may put a third of a million retail employees out of work in the next eight years, according to the British Retail Consortium.
There’s a major shift happening in the skill sets people need to stay relevant.
Highly skilled expertise are becoming mundane, thanks to automation.
So far, humans are vastly superior at any work that relies on creativity, entrepreneurialism, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
The future is uncertain.
It’s even a lot more frightening when you think about everything machines can take away from you.
One of the most important ingredients to success in life and business is the ability to adapt as technology changes and new trends emerge in a fast-paced digital world.
Global connectivity, intelligent machines, and new media are some of the most important drivers that are reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors to the world in the near future.
Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning., said Benjamin Franklin.
The rise of smart machines and apps, our computational world, super structured organizations and the globally connected world are driving change like never before.
People are afraid of losing their jobs. There is always the risk of getting fired.
But you can change that.
You can start preparing yourself for the future of work by investing in yourself and what matters to you. Building a reputation as an expert in your field is the ultimate form of career insurance.
1. The rise of the obsolete class
“Status quo, you know, is Latin for, ‘The mess we’re in.” — Ronald Reagan
A lot of people who are concerned about the future of work have no idea what skills to study or master.
Nobody wants to waste time and money acquiring skills that won’t be of use in the future.
We will gradually reach a period where some human skills will not be needed. Competing against robots is already a lost battle for humans.
Better and cheaper robots will be able to do most of our routine tasks that require little or no creativity.
Some specific sectors will be affected more than others.
We have almost reached a point in history where AI is suitable for doing almost all administrative tasks.
If the key requirements of your job are repetition and repeatability, you are probably not safe.
Driverless cars are forecast to make up 75% of all traffic by 2040.
Imagine how many people will be unemployed in just the transportation industry(transformation of all the infrastructure around the job, from training to petrol stations).
At some point in the future, it will be unsafe and illegal for humans to drive. That’s crazy and scary, but yes, we will get there.
You can’t fight innovation or disruption.
But you can change with time to be relevant when the future is here.
You can be superior at what you do.
You should be mastering the right skills.
2. A certificate is no longer sufficient to be indispensable at work
Why are some people easily outsourced, downsized, or freelanced into obscurity, while others have their pick of opportunities?
It’s now more essential than ever to become indispensable.
Your employer expect you to know a lot more than just what you studied at school. A degree is no longer sufficient to be indispensable at work.
Most people are replaceable at their jobs. But they can do something about it.
Amy Hoover, president of Talent Zoo explains: “As they say, everyone can be replaced. But to be indispensable means that you are so good and efficient at your job, that your boss and co-workers don’t want to imagine replacing you,” she says. “You are the go-to person they count on; the one who simply gets things done.”
What you know now may not be the only skills required to occupy your current position.
Each generation, and even within a single decade, we see some jobs largely disappear, while other new ones pop up.
According to one unpublished study, the coming wave of technological breakthroughs endangers up to 47% of total employment in the US.
When you think about your career path or your life’s work, you need to consider both your skills and your personality traits.
Don’t aim to fit in but be different.
If you left your current job today, how easy can your employer replace you?
3. Machines have no empathy
Artificial intelligence robots will have no sentimental affection for us. Emotional intelligence (EI) plays a role in everything.
Highly emotionally intelligent people rank high on responsiveness, empathy, listening, and self-awareness.
And they excel at interpersonal interaction.
The reason emotional intelligence is so widely valued is pretty simple: “It plays a role in everything,” A.J. Marsden, a professor of psychology at Beacon College, tells Fast Company, like “task performance, contextual performance, interactions with customers and peers” — the list goes on.
People skills are so important now and will continue to be in high demand in the future.
EI allows us to create relationships with others, provides insights into people’s motives and allows us to predict responses.
Any discipline that benefits from the emotional intelligence that only humans can provide will be in high demand.
If you are not a people’s person, it’s not too late. You can still learn how to better relate with others.
You will need soft skills to thrive in the future.
4. Why critical thinking crucial to your success
“Critical thinking is a desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and hatred for every kind of imposture.” — Francis Bacon (1605)
The ability to actively and skillfully conceptualize, apply, analyse, synthesise, and/or evaluate information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, is of immense importance to work.
It will continue to be a huge asset to your employer.
They are desirable skills you should develop. Decision making and problem-solving require gathering reliable information, evaluating the information for a variety of solutions and selecting the most appropriate option based on the criteria and situation.
People who can look at problems from a different angle often end up solving them in completely unexpected, often elegant ways.
At the same time, they expose how narrowly the majority had viewed the problem, or whether it even was a problem.
Creative thinkers are innovative and inventive and are more likely to devise new ways of doing things that add value to the work environment, making systems and procedures more efficient.
Creative thinkers can offer new perspectives about the job and the company. And they will be indispensable in the near future.
5. Improve your virtual collaboration skills
For many employees, spending every day in an office is no longer a necessity. A lot more companies are now embracing virtual collaboration.
The ability to use tools and resources to communication with teams from different locations more important than ever.
The need to communicate with and lead remote teams is creating a new management style, not necessarily difficult to learn, however, teamwork may need to unlearn and re-learn new ways to interact better for higher productivity.
Many larger companies have been embracing remote workers, at least partially, including powerhouses like Apple, Amazon, Dell, Intuit and IBM. This full list of the 100 top companies with remote jobs in 2015, by FlexJobs.
The ability to work with on site and remote teams will even become more crucial in the years ahead.
You can start learning how virtual tools work now to be prepared and ready when management starts to embrace the idea of remote work.
By 2020, an Intuit study estimates that more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent workers — freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees.
The report further states that, working in the cloud is increasingly shifting work lives away from corporate offices altogether and toward an in-my-own-place, on-my-own-time work regimen.
The possibility that your company will work with a lot more freelancers is very high.
6. Adaptable is probably more important than talent
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. — Charles Darwin
We live in ever-changing world which is unlikely to ever slow down. So, what mattered yesterday (e.g. skill, knowledge, social circle, etc.) very much so might not be worth a dime tomorrow.
Change used to be slow and incremental: now it is rapid, radical and unpredictable.
Adaptability enables us to dwell on new circumstances and stay on top of the situation.
Of course, this skill is best when combined with insight, giving us fresh perspective before the change itself.
Growth depends on how adaptable you are.
To stay relevant, most companies will need people who can change with time.
7. Digital and media literacy will be paramount
Everyday life is now abuzz with varying new media types and platforms.
And they keep changing.
The ability to make connections and engage audiences across vast, differing networks is paramount. Can you connect the dots in your industry when it comes to interpreting social data?
Customer demands will always change.
How soon can you identify a shift in consumer trends?
Can you predict and follow trends in your industry and most importantly take advantage of them?
Whereas it used to be sufficient to sell a product and receive revenues, customers now seek to connect with other like-minded individuals to get the most value in the long run.
Can you think ahead of them?
Business communications have gradually shifted to mobile devices.
New and emerging communications tools like slack are making it a lot more easy to work and stay in touch with colleagues and team members.
Businesses are now embracing text, chat, video, file sharing, and screen sharing in addition to email and phone communications at the workplace.
How much of these tools do you know and most importantly, can you use them without a struggle?
Not sure what skills you should be developing? Start asking questions, attend conferences and take relevant online courses to upgrade yourself and prepare for the future.
8. Boost your creative intelligence skills
The innate human ability to create cannot be toppled by machines. With time AI will eventually develop creative ideas but humans will still be in charge of most creative industries.
Anyone can drop a complaint into the suggestion box, but the mark of a truly great employee is coming up with solutions to pressing problems.
Shows that you care — not only about your own career, but about the long-term health of the business as well. Think about something relevant or moving or the best way to get your company closer to its goals.
9. How humans can work with machines
Is it time to rethink your career?
You need to start spending time preparing for the future even when there are more important things to do in the present and even when there is no immediately apparent return to your efforts.
In my recent book, Working in the Gig Economy: How to Thrive and Succeed When You Choose to Work for Yourself, I reveal how to successfully navigate the new flexible and changing world of work, and pitch yourself as an indispensable expert in your industry.
If you find yourself trapped for the foreseeable future because you are stuck in a soul-crushing job, remember, you always have two obvious options: settle or plan for a career change.
Don’t be afraid of the unknown if you decide to pursue your life’s work, because everything is unknown.
And if you decide to do work that matters to you, don’t stop because nobody’s buying it, sponsoring it or sharing it yet.
Show up every day and work on your most important life work. It matters that you show up.
Whether the outcome is magnificent or eternal, whether it changes people’s lives, changes the world, changes you or groundbreaking, it matters that you show up.
If you pursue your dreams long enough, compounding takes effect. Momentum will surge.
Most people can’t show their most amazing work to the rest of us because they fear criticisms. They feel inadequate.
They are scared people will think it’s not good enough. Others are living in their comfort zones because of fear.
But remember everything great happens outside your safe zone.
Choose to reinvent your career and make the most of the exciting, and promising future of work.
If you’re not sure what you want to do next, yet you know you want a change, you should go ahead and get started, with a focus on strengthening your core skills.
In research-backed Working in the Gig Economy: How to Thrive and Succeed When You Choose to Work for Yourself, I share practical ideas for starting a career you deeply care about. It contains true stories of successful freelancers who have reinvented themselves by choice.
Praise for “working in the gig economy”
“The global economy is changing and the very definition of “job” is changing right along with it. Thomas Oppong provides a step-by-step playbook to help you make a great living doing what you love.” Todd Henry, author, The Accidental Creative
“Work is changing. It’s a great opportunity to realize your creative destiny. But only if you adapt. Working in the Gig Economy is the roadmap to get you there.” David Kadavy, bestselling author of The Heart to Start
“Technology is advancing at an exponential rate enabling solo entrepreneurs increasing power to thrive in this growing gig economy. Working In The Gig Economy provides a powerful guide to help you thrive now and in the future, buy it today!” Daniel Burrus, author and leading futurist on global trends and innovation.
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This article first appeared on Medium.