Will the future of work be a renaissance, revolution or dystopia?

By Fresh Focus co-founder/ceo Nichola Quail News Make a Comment

SYDNEY, Yesterday:– I had the privilege to attend the National Future of Work Summit held at the ICC in Sydney recently. We heard from a broad cross-section of speakers – from Faethm’s Michael Priddis, Atlassian’s Dom Price, Sydney Uni’s Atilla Brungs, to trade union reps and workplace startups including Academy XI, Beam Australia, Transition Hub and Ribit – all trying to solve the problem of how we will deal with the Future of Work.

It got me thinking that many of the problems facing the Australian market and equally (if not more) applicable to NZ. Here are my 10 takeaways …

  1. The Future of Work is now. We are already in transition with many roles being ‘augmented’ by technology and people being ‘transitioned out’ or in other words being made redundant (the recent redundancy rollout at Spark is just one example). The PWC report asks will robots really steal our jobs? By 2036, 747,000 jobs in NZ will have undergone augmentation through automation.
  2. Canada is surpassing the US in the creation and development of a successful entrepreneurial start-up ecosystem. MaRS  in Toronto is one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs with the purpose to help innovators change the world. 
  3. People development and internal culture are more important than ever before. As we move toward the integration of AI, automation and robotics into our workplaces we need to work even harder to retrain our people and enable them to transition to a different type of role. It also helps keep the ‘human’ element of work alive!
  4. Lifelong learning is no longer a ‘nice to have’ –it’s a necessity. With kids today likely to have up to eight career transitions in their lifetime, ongoing learning will be essential to ensure they can transition to different careers and roles within organisations. Vocation-led, bite-size adult education will be highly desirable.
  5. Fractional work among professions will become a sustainable practice alongside the gig economy. Coined by Beam Australia, the fractional economy allows professionals to have more flexibility in where they work and for how long. They may choose to work for a few hours or a few months. Organisations can pull together a multi-disciplined team of highly skilled fractional workers to complete a project that minimises headcount loading. 
  6. It is imperative for large organisations to speed up their move toward agile. To compete with the new economy the hierarchical institutions based on an industrial/machine paradigm is fast becoming obsolete. This is the drive behind Spark’s controversial move toward the agile business model, and The Warehouse Group are also embedding some of these practices to compete with the new world order.
  7. Robots will take your job – but only if you let them. According to Dom Price from Atlassian, in order to protect yourself from the future, you need to create a different one through retraining and upskilling. Organisations need to develop values that are meaningful to their employees so they can attract and keep their marquee talent. Technology creates new jobs, not just replaces them. Before Airtasker the job of ‘professional spider remover’did not exist. Uber created amateur professional drivers and AirBnB created millions of BnB owners.
  8. STEM needs to be embedded into the future school curriculum. Vietnam’s 2nd language is now coding! What is NZ doing to ensure we are prepared to operate in the global
  9. economy of the future?
  10. Women need to continue getting involved and taking risks. Operating in this new economy that requires thinking on your feet, making lots of quick decisions, being people focused should play to our strengths. Yet female-led start-ups and female business leaders and board members continue to fall behind. In New Zealand there are twice as many chief executives of the top 50 publicly-listed companies called David, Peter, Chris or Simon, and four times as many Johns than there are women.


Written by Nichola Quail, founder and ceo of Insight Exchange (launching beta soon). Our goal is to make customer insights accessible to progressive brands and marketers looking to drive real change in their business. www.freshfocus.net.nz



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