Career 12: The future of work

By Kaye Avery

In the future workers will demand more autonomy, more variety and greater lifestyle balance. Photo / Supplied
In the future workers will demand more autonomy, more variety and greater lifestyle balance. Photo / Supplied

Big global challenges require a whole new way of thinking about what work is and why we do it

The nature of work will have changed forever within the next 10 years. Our world is changing dramatically as ageing and expanding (and contracting) populations and consumerism put major stresses on ecosystems. The current system of economics with growth as its aim is at threat, and money may soon be in question as the key driver of change.

How to manage life itself in ways that are restorative and more meaningful will become an important question when constant and rapid change becomes the new 'normal'.

I am reading Richard Branson's book Screw Business as Usual. In it Branson outlines a new approach to economics - something he calls Capitalism 24902. He writes - "Every single business person has the responsibility for taking care of the people and the planet that make up our global village, all 24902 circumferential miles of it."

Work will not be the same as we know it by 2020. In fact, the Future of Work Foundation (based in Australia) proposes that we may be forced to re-configure work to be a "desirable activity in its own right". They believe that a shift in the way we use and value money and address the increasingly critical needs of our planet will have to happen.

Here in New Zealand we have a revolution happening in the business, creative, social and environmental sectors; entrepreneurs who are driven by values more than money. They are engaging in new ways of working, using technology and more flexible and collaborative practices. Co-working hubs are sprouting up all over the place where entrepreneurs are clustering to collaborate and share resources and knowledge.

Corporates are promoting collaborative multi-disciplinary teams, and service industries are sharing systems of knowledge and expertise involving multi-disciplined practices to offer integrated services.

The old structures of siloed, hierarchical organisations are almost gone; we have leaner, more agile businesses that through technological advances are reducing their need for bricks and mortar. Employees want flexibility and now, with remote access, can work from anywhere. People want more autonomy, more variety and greater lifestyle balance.

Collaborative enterprises offer people lifestyle choices and connection with like-minded people. An example of such collaboration is the Enspiral group of entrepreneurs Enspiral is a collaboration of highly talented and multi-disciplined people who work on their own projects within an agreed framework of trust, clear values and business support. Their talented entrepreneurs (41 people, in 12 cities, in six countries) operate web design and e-commerce projects; have practices in law and engineering involving product prototyping and production co-ordination.

At Enspiral they "work for love - not just money". In this group, Sir Paul Callahan's dream of "New Zealand being a place where talent wants to live" is manifest. Contributors are essentially their own business managers who set their own work timeframes and pay. The collective has vast networks and supports contributors by linking them with the "world class" talent they need who are also committed to working purposefully. Their point of difference: "Changing the world is Enspiral's passion".

Sam Rye, one of Enspiral's entrepreneurs, believes that "extrinsic inducements such as money are in fact, de-motivating for anything beyond the most simplistic of tasks. Whereas when intrinsic values are nurtured through autonomy, mastery and purpose - motivation skyrockets".

Our collective motivations are changing. I believe that purposeful working activities involving collaboration, entrepreneurship and making a difference will be key motivators underpinning our work activities into the future.

The potential for the creation of new opportunities for people to get involved with is huge. Evident already is a phenomenal interest and growth in green jobs sprouting many new businesses. Local initiatives in sustainable communities and horticulture, aging support, health and well-being will become more and more evident.

Academia and research institutes are bringing science and business together too, nurturing new startups that bring huge potential to solving real-life problems in new and better ways. Services in health, education and community development are finding better ways to build greater levels of collaboration in order to more effectively address the need to do more, with less.

Many of the standard careers such as in medicine, law, education, business, community services etc. will remain, however the rate of change and the greater need for restoring communities and the environment with less, will require somewhat different competencies.

* Kaye Avery is an Auckland-based career coach, mentor and group facilitator; www.career-coach.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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