high angle photo of robot

The Future of Work is Now

We all know that our world is changing around us.  It has always been changing around us.  There are times throughout history, though, when change happens more rapidly and more significantly than we are prepared to handle.  We are definitely in the midst of one of those times now, and we all feel it. 

From an economic and social standpoint, many of these changes were predicted and named back in 2016 as the soon-to-be 4th Industrial Revolution.  Sometimes this is also called “The Future of Work.”  By 2018, the experts were stating “It is here!”  And yet companies were not yet prepared, and some hadn’t even believed it was coming.  Jump to 2020 and we all see it and feel it everyday, and yet we are not prepared either. 

Before we jump into what to do about though, let me explain – in my own simple terms – the 4th Industrial Revolution.

A Quick History on Industrial Revolutions

Think back to your high school history class and you might remember the industrial revolution.  You might remember something about steam engines and the invention of the light bulb.  And you remember correctly, but there is so much more to it!

First – there have been multiple industrial revolutions driven by technological advances that significantly and quickly changed the way the world works.  Literally.  It changed how we live and work.  Check out this chart for a quick refresher on past industrial revolutions. 

The 4th Industrial revolution is all about how technology and humans work together globally to create integrated living that we have never experienced. This is why you often see the word CONNECTEDNESS attached to it.  Think about the internet of things and how you can control the temperature of your house, watch videos in real time from your home security system, and even start dinner in the crockpot all from your smartphone.  Think about the connections that have been made possible during the pandemic thanks to technology.  I know I personally managed through hard times thanks to video calls.  Smiles during isolation do make a difference.  Think about how robots have taken over mundane and repetitive tasks for us, and we program them to do the work when and how we want it done. There is even more to it. This article, and the embedded video within the article, shared by The World Economic Forum will give you a deeper understanding.

What does this mean to me?

The potential and opportunities to create goodness out of this connectedness are immense.  Automations and better streamlining alone tend to rock my world in a good way!  But as with all potential and opportunity, there comes challenges and hardship too.  As much as the word connectedness comes forward, so does the word disruption.  So let’s just tackle some of those truths right now. 

  • Jobs will transform.  Some will go away.  New ones will emerge. 
  • Upskilling and reskilling will be incredibly important.
  • Education will look different. 
  • Growth mindset will be necessary for success.
  • Collaboration will be required.
  • Ambiguity of the future will become normal.
  • The concept of retirement will change as we live longer, healthier lives.
  • The rate of technological breakthroughs will have exponential growth.

In simple terms, it means the job you do today will change radically, and maybe even be eliminated in the future.  The future of work will ask new skills of you.  It will require you to do new jobs.  Ones that may not even exist yet.  Whoa.  That can certainly create a sense of anxiety. 

There is no need to panic, but there is an urgent need for action.  You can be preparing yourself now for the future.  While there are many things you cannot control (like how Artificial Intelligence or Robotics might impact your job in the future), there is a still a whole lot you can control to put you on the path to career (and life) success. 

Engage in the Journey

The absolute first thing to do is work on acceptance.  You have to believe that the future will lead to positive growth and that you can be a satisfied, productive person playing your part in the heart of it all. 

It’s not so easy to do when many of us have been raised to have a “life plan” that included go to college, get a job, work for 30-40 years, and retire.  Now, though, we must think of our career, and our life a bit differently. 

This way of thinking is also growth mindset.  It’s opening your life up to discovery instead of a specific outcome.  It’s rethinking the concept of subject matter expertise.  It’s the idea that your career looks less like climbing a ladder, and more like creating a mosaic. 

Digging into the Future of Work

I’m going to spend the next several weeks digging into the Future of Work with you.  Nurturing your growth mindset is key.  If you just started to follow Talent Uplifted, check out the previous 4-5 articles on Growth Mindset.  Looking forward to sharing more resources, thoughts, and ideas on how we can all capitalize on these moments to thrive at work and in our communities.

Until then, I want to leave you with a resource.  I follow Elatia Abate and her thinking on The Future of Work, which she calls The Future of Now.  I had the privilege of hearing her speak at a conference back in 2018.  Her energy, her knowledge, and her enthusiasm for seeing the beauty in the 4th Industrial Revolution were unforgettable.  Since then I have had a chance to sit in some of her live training sessions, and I follow her work in real time on LinkedIn. 

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These blog posts are meant to be thought-provoking. We encourage you to use your deep thinking skills and apply this to your own growth and development in a way that is meaningful to you! If you choose to respond or start a conversation on this, we ask that you practice professionalism at all times.

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