Future Of Work

new zealand wellingtonNew Zealand businesses were recently the subject of a unique study that showed they are adapting to the changing nature of work.

Yesterday I attended a presentation by students in the Human Resource Management course at Victoria University. I was curious to hear how the interview I gave as part of their research project would be represented. I was also interested to learn whether businesses in New Zealand, in Wellington particularly, are responding to the changing workplace.

It is not often that you have the opportunity to get a bird’s eye view on a city’s response to digital disruption and the role of technology.

This research was conducted with 75 Wellington- based organisations. They were businesses working in Recruitment, Infrastructure, Finance, Real Estate, Information Technology and the Public Service. Here is my summary of the findings presented.

future is hereThat’s the title of Professor Lynda Gratton’s influential book – ‘The Shift; The Future of Work is Already Here’.

Hailed by the Times as one of the top business thinkers in the world, she outlines five forces that will shape the future pattern of work:


  • Around 40% of the world’s population has an internet connection today and there are more mobile devices in the world than people!
  • Billions of people are becoming connected; technology is replacing jobs and the world’s knowledge is becoming digitalised.

notes 514998 1920HR is not a particularly safe profession at the moment – information systems and HR technology are supporting some roles but replacing others. Like many other white collar jobs, the coming wave of innovation presents challenges and opportunities.

A colleague and I met over lunch this week to plan a presentation we’ll be delivering on the topic of the future of work, to HR practitioners who want to stay current. What do we have to offer these HR professionals?

The future of work has immediate practical implications for an organisation. It translates to three needs: reduced costs, higher quality candidates and increased productivity.

create 865017 640I have the privilege of living and working in Wellington. I also work in Sydney.

In fact, my work can take me anywhere as long as I have a decent internet connection.

My work style is a reflection of the modern workforce - highly mobile, with various interests and opportunities for work - but we have to be connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

However it is not an understatement to say that the forces currently influencing today's workforce will change what it means to work and live.

This article is based on the advice I presented to the New Zealand Labour Party Conference on November 7, 2015 about the future of work.

student working1Making headlines across the world is Sweden's move to cut down the working day from 8, to 6 hours.

It sounds appetising to the average worker; fewer meetings and more time at home, but is there really a benefit for businesses?

Swedish CEOs seem to think so.

pedestrians streetwalkingIt sounds like yet another business buzz-word.

But before you tune out and disregard social entrepreneurship along with "paradigm shift" or "growth hacking" you might want to read on....

We are at the beginning of a business revolution that can be characterised by creativity, innovation and compassion. This revolution is the result of the ongoing global struggle with capitalism and free-market ideologies.

signpost crossroadsWhen it comes to working from home, telecommuting, telework and so on, one of the common areas that organisations are right to grapple with is which people, which tasks, which days, which clients and so on are well suited to remote work?

These decisions can make or break productivity.

But applying remote work in your organisation just got a whole lot easier.

freelancer officedeskFor as long as there have been classrooms, students have been trying to learn. 

The success of their efforts has often been attributed to their teacher, their learning style or their affinity with the subject.

But how often do we attribute students' success or failure in the classroom to a computer program? This scenario is becoming increasingly likely, thanks to adaptive learning.

In one study of adaptive learning students achieved a 15% improvement in success rates. In another study failure rates in a course at the University of New South Wales reduced from 31% to 7%.

So what is adaptive learning and how is it different to computer-based learning we are already familiar with?

Vincents LogoThe modern workplace is constantly evolving. There are many drivers of change influencing how we work today, with rapid change expected for the future of work. 

Lighthouse recently spoke to Tony Lane from Vincents Chartered Accountants who gave insight into the drivers of change impacting his own industry and what it means for those working in it, as well as how he sees the future of work for the service industry as a whole.

WOTSO LogoCo-working spaces can be a great alternative to a home office. They're set up like an office, so no more having to move your stuff from the kitchen table each night.

Lighthouse recently spoke to Andy Snell and Chris Shackleton from Rollercoaster Digital to hear about their experience of moving into a co-working space.

pedestrians streetwalkingWe need start-ups in Canberra - both for employment and for ideas. People starting new businesses and trying new things adds vibrancy to the economy.

In fact, start-ups are at the forefront of many of the trends that are driving the future of work.

Start-ups have embraced the new era of connectivity and interactive technology and their work practices reflect this. Being mobile, connecting to work via the 'cloud', collaborating both through online platforms and face-to-face through co-working spaces; they embrace the idea of working flexibly. Because start-ups are usually cash-strapped they also look at compensation differently.

Where possible, they pay for results rather than hours worked and they also look beyond just monetary incentives to reward staff.

home office laptop640Chris Mason is the chairman and founder of Mindshop, a global advisory company operating out of South Yarra, Melbourne.

It's not often that you meet an advocate of the benefits of working remotely but Chris is one of those people.

I met him on a webinar during the week and asked him if I could spend a bit more time getting to know his business to find out why remote work is so important to him.

When we spoke, Chris had made calls within the past 24 hours to Toronto, Colorado, Ireland and Germany. In a typical week he speaks to clients in at least five countries.

network cables 494645 640The future is already unfolding around us.

We are seeing drivers of change everywhere - in technology as more people get connected; in globalisation with the emerging economies of India and China; in changing demographics as people live longer; in increasing energy prices and even at a social level as more women enter the workforce and more men look for balance in their lives.

Some of these forces can have negative consequences. In some instances technology is replacing jobs and we are seeing an increasing fragmentation as permanent jobs are being replaced by short-term contracts.

However, we are also seeing some exciting opportunities especially for those who would like to craft their own futures.

Conference audience1The future of work has never been such a hot topic in business circles as it is today.

Forbes, Fast Company and the Economist are just a few of the major media outlets dedicating significant space to the topic, no doubt because major change is afoot in today's workplaces.

The exponential pace of technological change is driving widespread shifts in where, when and how we work.

With economic and demographic shifts also at play, there's a lot to get your head around.