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John Coxon

I want to help you prepare for the future. I achieve this by helping you to join.the.dots. I provide you with the knowledge to inform future planning and decision making. This knowledge is available to you through our newsletter and through our customised presentations to your stakeholders.

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Future of Work

June 23rd, 2016

There is no doubt the way we go about working in the future will be different to how we have done so in the past. Robotics entered the workplace almost three decades ago, firstly in the manufacturing sector, then into healthcare and now increasingly into the service industries.

Despite a variety of doomsday predictions, it is unlikely all future work will be performed by robots; however increasingly technology will take over routine, non-creative roles.

Technology requires technicians and other people to build and maintain hardware and software and there remains work activity which is beyond the capability of robotics as we understand them at present.

The corporate workplace grew out of a need for mass production and the welfare state along with worker protection grew as a result of employers demonstrating their basic lack of humanity. The same will happen again. Why? Because the world needs to trade, goods and money need to exchange hands. Also because people are resilient and resourceful.

Back in the 1900's when the majority of people were 'self employed' they were restricted by physical, geographic boundaries. Future self employed contractors, freelancers and 'sharing economy' earners live in a vast, connected, global community, where information, goods, services and money circulate rapidly.

New ways of taxing income, new ways of paying people a living income and new ways of living with sparodic employment will emerge, simply because the alternative is to awful to contemplate.

Employers might think such a future is good for them and they can pick and choose the best employees. That may not be so. Good people make good in any situation. Baby Boomers were prepared to swap anything for job security. Following generations have become increasingly more self reliant, as more and more people have learned how to house and feed themselves and their families without a guaranteed paycheck. The 'lone wolf' sole trader of the past will become extinct as future 'self employed' utilise all the best practices and technology used by corporations; such as collaboration, partnerships, virtual teams and software that reduces operational costs. It may be the best people you could have hired will be the hardest to attract.

Businesses that maintain repressive or negative workplace practices will lose out on talented people. As more and more technology drives the workplace; then talent becomes more important than simply hiring at the lowest cost. Many future employees will not want to work full time and employers that attract the best people will be those willing and able to create a flexible workforce. Often a future employee will work part time for you and part time for your competitor. Those that implement restrictive, anti-competitive working clauses will either fail to attract key people or pay over the odds to keep them.

The future of work will be exciting for both employers and employees. The employer/employee relationship will not be a one-way street; more like a partnership. The human resource function will finally be seen as a strategic function. Rather than simply processing job applications, HR will provide advice on how to remain competitive within a changing workplace. Read more from the World Economic Forum.