Back to the Future (of Work) 2: Let’s get practical

In my previous article I discussed how we are seeing significant changes in the way people think about work, how they actually work and how organisations are shaped. I listed 5 disrupters that are challenged everything we know about “work”.
Now, much like any great sequel (Back to the Future 2 being one of my favorites), I want to give you practical ways you can change what you do now, to prepare for the future of work. See it as a a 2025 HR Almanac.

1. Career Mosaics

  1. Offer a variety of employment options.
  2. Do not require a college degree.
  3. Provide learning opportunities and make internal transfer easy.
  4. Encourage learning and reward people who have multiple capabilities.
  5. Rehire those who have left as their newly acquired skills may be useful.

2. Crowdsourcing and Collaboration

  1. Create project work whenever possible.
  2. Change the reward systems to reward collaboration, sharing and teamwork.
  3. Encourage a “we” mentality, not an “I” one.
  4. Merge functional units into operational/project units.
  5. Move people frequently from project to project.

3. Big Data and Analytics

  1. Collect data at every step.
  2. Encourage the use of data for decision making.
  3. Hire a data scientist.
  4. Reward failures as well as successes.

4. Robotics and Automation

  1. Openly discuss the adoption of automated tools and robots.
  2. Encourage employees to suggest ways to work better with them.
  3. Create project teams to explore ways that people can be redeployed internally and develop appropriate training.

5. Beyond Hierarchy

  1. Rethink your current structure. Is it hindering innovation?
  2. Read about firms such as Zappos, Gore, Semco, and others that have adopted flat structures.
  3. Remove layers of management – expand number of direct reports. Reward managers that eliminate layers and improve productivity.
  4. Encourage people to be self- managing. Reward risk-taking, collaborative behaviors.

You can collaborate with your team to decide which of these solutions is best for your needs and empower volunteers on your team to get started implementing. Be more of a coach and supporter than a doer and move responsibility and accountability to the lowest level you can.
Most of these do not require high-level approval or a big budget. You can implement many of them simply by deciding to do them and educating your team about why and what the benefits might be.
What is important is to recognize the need to change and begin to take action.
To learn more about the future of work, see Kevin speak at #CWF2014. He will deliver a presentation on: ‘Future of Contingent Work: What will the Workforce of 2025 Look Like? To take advantage of early bird pricing, register now.

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