Work in the 21st century is influenced by digital innovations and international megatrends – smart decision-makers are already aware that a great deal is changing. Future-ready teams are well networked and the employees can handle algorithms, modify software and communicate with robots. The team of the future includes creative people who feel at home in virtual spaces and meet their colleagues from all over the world in the Metaversum, the future virtual collective space, to work on projects together.
2050: the future of work has begun
The scenario described above is hypothetical, but with a solid basis. It is based on the findings of the Millennium Project (*1 + 2), which intends to find out how the world will change in the coming decades. The Millennium Project includes results and discussions from almost 300 experts from all over the world – including smart minds such as Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk – who are involved in the non-profit think tank for future issues founded in 1996 by Theodore J. Gordon and Jerome C. Glenn.
A strategic think tank provides insights
This think tank operates worldwide, with the help of 56 ‘nodes’, to link local and global points of view, as well as various future-related studies and scenarios. What is special about the study mentioned here, ‘Future Work/Technology 2050’, is the approach using the Delphi method, which does not primarily look for general and representative results, but rather provides differentiated insights into the experts’ thoughts and theories on the future. The focus is therefore on content rather than numbers.
Key qualification: teach yourself and each other
Changing project teams, regular changes in workspace and job, continuous learning – those are three core developments that the experts expect in the coming decades. But changes at all levels also require teams who go with the flow and shape the many changes. For that reason, at many places of work it will be increasingly important to learn from and with one another. A new, international culture of cooperation is required, ‘work and learning are merging into one another’, say the experts. Teams that are well set up for the digital transformation are therefore those in which colleagues help one another to acquire professional knowledge. Teams that continue their education. And teams that enjoy learning and testing out new things.
The source of hope for the team: each individual member
In the coming decades, everyone’s input is required – small and big teams, decision-makers and managers, every individual employee. Interestingly, ‘the individual’ is also ‘the great source of hope’ according to most of the experts in the Delphi study, because they consider each individual to be ‘more flexible and “smart” than the big systems, which, due to their intrinsic slowness, can only react to fast transformation, rather than actively shape it.’
Desire for the future: we want to become better
And what do the individuals feel as they face the digitised future? An international survey for Konica Minolta from March 2017 (*3) delivered interesting results. A total of 11,362 consumers in Europe, the USA and Japan provided information on their attitude to the place of the work of the future. 37% of those surveyed were concerned that new technologies such as artificial intelligence or robots could replace them or their colleagues in future.
At the same time, it is interesting to find out what those surveyed would do with the time freed up by automation. The surprising conclusion: they want to become better! The most common answers include further development of work skills (26%), improvement of business processes and improved communication and cooperation with colleagues (20% each). It is therefore clear that willingness to better oneself and learn new things is in supply internationally. In light of the expert assessments, the answers demonstrate one thing above all else: we are ready for the future!