Live Innovative

Future of work: What will be required of you 10 years from now?

Picture yourself on your way to work in 2027. How do you think you will travel? By a self-driving car? Perhaps. Do you think you will use your augmented reality glasses to check your email during the commute? It's very likely. When you get to the office complex, is it possible that a drone greets you with a product you ordered the previous day? Sure, why not? This is a very popular depiction of the future, because all three products exist but are not yet a part of everyday life.

Now, let's try imagining the inside of the office building. Can you imagine the change? Probably not. It's likely that you're visualizing something similar to the office of today. Workforce 2020, a global study by Oxford Economics, revealed that only 33% of executives believe that they or the companies that they work for are prepared for the future of work. However, this is a potent change that demands your attention.

In some small ways, all that you are likely to see in the workplace 10 years from now is already visible, thus making it easier for us to prepare for the new reality.

Keeping track of change

AIt's not enough to simply understand that work is changing. You need to keep track of how it is being impacted by improvements in the world. A great way of keeping up to speed with all the new developments would be to maintain a laundry list of questions for each job and understand how technology is likely to impact status-quo.

For example, how will the blockchain affect a job? With its smart contracts and promises of optimal security and transparency, will it cannibalise existing roles.

Or ponder upon how the implementation of agile workspaces will impact productivity at the workplace. If 51% of US-based software companies work in an agile format today (as per a 2015 survey by a Fortune 500 company), the questions that begs an answer is, "should all IT employees study the principles it is built around?"

Just listing them down can be a daunting task. So let's put matters in perspective for the time being by discussing only the three main buckets that are likely to lead the shift:

You will have greater flexibility at work

A decade from now, the oldest millennials will be into their forties. This means that offices will need to play by their rules. Numerous studies (for example, read EY's study on work-life challenges across generations or Intelligence group's studies of millennials) on the subject indicate that offices of the future will offer greater flexibility and allow you to manage your responsibilities in a more autonomous manner.

This is because millennials strongly believe that they should be judged on their performance alone, and not the number of hours that they spend at the office. They also wish to take ownership of their tasks and prefer to work in non-hierarchical structures.

We, at DBS, have introduced several progressive work policies that are designed to cater to the changing needs of our workforce. While flexible work hours and work-from-home benefits are available to most of our employees, a few of them are also given the opportunity to take a sabbatical to pursue passion projects or business ideas.

You will need to work alongside artificial intelligence

While technology is ubiquitous even in the present day, the arrival of machines with artificial general intelligence (machines with the ability to apply themselves to multiple problems, rather than just a specific one) in the near future will require you to sharpen as well as constantly evolve your existing skill set. At DBS, we already run hackathons to boost this understanding among our people. In 2015, we put 20 teams through a five-day hackathon, with a whole day devoted to understanding technology and skill building in human-centered design. Their goal was to build an app in 72 hours. The solutions were good, but the feedback was better, as many of our employees found the experience of working with technology and actually delivering a product, very powerful.

You will need to collaborate

Work cultures that prioritise collaboration tend to be more innovative. There is abundant research to support this claim, including Working Better Together, a report by Google for Work & Raconteur, which found that over 73% of the executives it interviewed agreed that collaboration has a tangible impact on business innovation, culture and the bottom line. Given the need for businesses to innovate on a more regular basis in the digital age, efficient ongoing collaboration is likely to be a key part of the culture wherever you work. This could be one reason why 70% of American offices now have an open office layout (as per a Gallup poll).

10 years from now, therefore, your work will most likely require you to be able to manage your schedules and tasks yourself. It will require you to work confidently with technology, constantly educate yourself, and be able to collaborate with your co-workers in a way that brings tangible gains to the company. The time to prepare is now.