Do you ever wonder what 5 years from now will look like at work? The 21st Century is the age of information where technological advancements have contributed in shaping cultures, trends, economies, and how people think. With the changes technology has brought, workplaces continue to adapt to stay relevant and at par with their competitors.
With so much research highlighting how workplaces will evolve in the near future and how technology could replace some jobs, we should be prepared on how we, humans, can continuously contribute to organizations and community. Most importantly, how we as individuals fulfill our natural need for self-actualization.
According to the Institute for the Future (IFTF) in California, the top skills that employees or future employees should have to compete or stay relevant in the workplace. Let’s explore these skills to make our preparations for the future.
It is a known fact that smart machines are slowly replacing workforces in the manufacturing and service industries. But one job robots cannot replace is decision making which we can’t easily code into machines. The demand for critical thinking or sense-making skills will be much higher by then because humans are the only ones capable of providing diverse insights and understand deeper meanings to be able to make decisions and create ideas. Therefore, workforces need to practice how to think critically and assess the significance of ideas and thoughts.
Social robot prototypes like Pepper are programmed to recognize emotions and engage with people, but it is also important to know that there is a limit to the set of emotions and social skills these robots can exhibit. Humans have complex minds to understand, assess situations and adapt to them through responses and ways of engagement. Humans can connect and build trust in complex ways robots won’t understand. This is why having social intelligence and enhancing it is a key skill in future workplaces and society as a whole because we are the only ones who can exhibit such social skills in unique situations.
Novel & Adaptive Thinking
Employees and future employees need to be able to come up with solutions to complex problems and also have an adaptive mindset to the ever-growing and ever-changing environment. As the world and the different industries continue to be shaped by technological and social factors, future workforces need to be able to respond to unexpected situations with great thought and creativity.
As the world continues to be connected through advancement in communication and transportation, employees can be assigned to different parts of the world, therefore, workers need to be able to adapt and work in different environments and be open to diverse cultures and perspectives. Aside from this, organizations are now continuously promoting diversity in their workplaces, therefore, employees need to be able to accommodate and leverage on different perspectives to achieve organizational goals.
The Age of Information has provided unlimited access to data; therefore, it is important to develop the ability to understand and translate these millions of pieces of information. Workplaces require individuals that are capable of making sense of this amount of data (with qualitative or quantitative models).
New Media Literacy
As user-generated content continues to invade different platforms of media, like creating videos, posters, or Infographics, employees or future employees need to be familiar with these platforms and have the ability to create content through them or be able to find solutions, for example, using tools from studycrumb.com to write texts. This is because these platforms are commonly used in the workplace for different purposes --- mainly for communication to different stakeholders thus, enhancing skills on using these different tools and being able to assess the analytics or insights brought in by these contents are important to fit into future expectations.
The problems of the 21st century are complex and need to be solved through solutions which do not only focus on one field of knowledge but several. It is important that an employee has at least one specialized field but is also able to understand and communicate with different fields of knowledge (sometimes called T-shaped skills). This means that the ideal employee for the future is willing to learn and be curious about other disciplines to understand concepts and grasp perspectives and ideas better in collaboration.
Employees should have a design mindset in which they can recognize different ways of thinking and design improved working processes for efficient business outcomes, therefore, enhancing their productivity --- making their working space more comfortable to work in.
Cognitive Load Management
Due to the unlimited access to data, the ability to filter information and tell which ones are important and which ones aren’t needed is an important skill to have in avoiding cognitive overload. Workers of the future should be able to utilize the different tools and techniques available in assessing whether the information is significant or not, considering there are unlimited details of data that can mislead you.
Lastly, technology has made working from different places possible through platforms assisting communication and collaboration. Employees should be able to make online meetings more interactive and inspirational through gaming-inspired strategies to keep members of the virtual space engaged, especially because distractions cannot be avoided. At the same time, individuals should make these virtual environments reflect a sense of community where members can contribute ideas and opinions freely and be comfortable in accomplishing their tasks at their own pace.
The future is exciting. Let’s welcome it with open arms as we venture into the unknown, ready to take on the challenge. The way we learn has drastically changed and today we can easily gain insights and practical ways to start our upskilling journey: Most of our success will be achieved by developing metacognitive skills - a process for developing self-awareness and the ability to self-assess our own development. These are the most essential skills for our lifelong learning journey.