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The Future of Work by 2020

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las Nieves in the SpringFascinating topic, don’t you think? And here we are, still in 2013, and already thinking about what the workplace of the future would be like by 2020. Well, one thing for sure is that it won’t be anything like we have today or what we may have had over the course of the last 50 years. Even more, I am suspecting that over the course of time, if not happening already today, we are going to make a very healthy split between work and jobs. Because, you know, they are not the same, no matter what people keep telling you. They have never been the same. And, certainly, with the emergence of digital tools that split is even more natural and in full accordance with a new reality: work is you, you are the work.

So what is the future of You? What is the future of work then? It seems that lately there have been lots and lots of interesting and rather relevant insights shared across, i.e. blog posts, articles, mainstream news, insightful whitepapers and whatever else, shared across by folks who have embarked themselves into redefining how we should be looking at work from here onwards over the course of time and also from the perspective of how we are rethinking the role of jobs, even to the point of perhaps venturing whether it’s worth while quitting yours and move on to the next big adventure (Highly recommended and superb read by Irvin Wladawsky-Berger, by the way). Uncertainty will be there. Uncertainty is always there. But that’s perhaps a good thing, because it’s essentially what helps us progress further into the unknown while we keep rethinking what we will all want to be doing as work.

Long gone are the times where we were aiming for long term careers and their big aspirations, for loyalty to a specific business or company, for a long-term opportunity to have an impact over the course of decades. Long gone are the times where knowledge workers were aiming at fitting in within a working environment for which they were perhaps not ready for it, while carrying on their work, with very little motivation, waiting for the payslip at the end of the month. Hummm, well, maybe this one is not gone just yet. But perhaps it is a clear indication already as to why certain jobs need to be questioned and redefined in the context of whether they are still purposeful or meaningful altogether. After all, and this is what I keep telling people all around, we only have got one single life, so it is probably a fair game we all try to make the most out of it, don’t you think? 

Lou Adler has also got a rather thought-provoking article on a similar topic under the suggesting heading of “There Are Only Four Jobs in the Whole World – Are You in the Right One?” where he proposes how those four jobs are the following ones: Producers, Improvers, Builders and Thinkers. Go ahead and read it through, as it will certainly be rather helpful in understanding what your current job may well be about and it will confirm whether you might be on the right one, or not. Interestingly enough, while I read it myself, I just couldn’t help thinking how in today’s more complex than ever working environment each and everyone of us may eventually be doing the four jobs at the same time depending on the context of the task at hand, which is essentially what keeps driving us all into achieving our goals: that purpose and meaning I mentioned above, along with the right context in such a hyperconnected, networked (business) world. 

And to that effect, while I keep reflecting myself on the future of work, I thought I would point you to a recent article that my good friend Jemima Gibbons worked on over at “What will “work” look like in 2020?” where she gathered a good bunch of folks sharing their insights on how they see themselves the workplace of the future. Some pretty interesting insights with key concepts like Intrapreneurship and its impact behind the corporate firewall (By William Higham); or the redefinition of work from a physical space / office into a state of mind where work life integration play a rather key, paramount role (By Karen Mattison) towards sustainable growth; or how the convergence of cloud, mobile and social (Along with the “Internet of Things”) will inspire more contractual / freelance work helping organisations become more liquid, hybrid while knowledge workers become freer and more autonomous around their work, owning it and co-sharing that responsibility (By David Terrar); or how knowledge workers will no longer be talking about adoption of new technologies, but more a key concept that I have become rather fond of myself over time and which I find also rather descriptive in terms of where I feel the key is of how we redefine work, that is, how do we adapt to this new digital work environment to make the best out of it, as in how well do we adapt to change (By Helen Keegan).

Like I said, lots of great, relevant insights and plenty of key pointers that surely highlight where we may be heading to over the course of time. Jemima asked me as well whether I would be able to contribute with my ¢2 and, of course, I couldn’t reject such generous offer so I added a short paragraph that explains what’s been in my mind for a while in terms of what I sense the future of work would be like in the not so distant future … So I thought I would go ahead and finish off this article by taking the liberty of quoting it across: 

In the future, work will be more distributed and remote – technology means that people will be able to work from wherever they want to. Work processes will be driven by interactions from workers through networks and communities rather than traditional company hierarchies. Large enterprises will no longer need to exist, because of the nature of the hyper-connected and networked workforce. Trust between workers will be more essential than ever – and critical for success. People will find new meaning and purpose through building strong personal business relationships: the key objective for everyone will be sustainable growth.

So what will “work” look like in 2020 for you? Care to venture and share a comment or two on what it may well be like? Perhaps in a few years we can come back to this blog post and see how accurate our perceptions were after all. Or not. Something tells me the journey is going to be just as fascinating, inspiring and refreshing as the final destination, if not more altogether! Why? Well, because for the first time in decades it will be us, knowledge (Web) workers, the ones who can choose what we would want it it to be.

And that’s a good thing. After all, work is us, we are the work.

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The Future of Work Is Learning

Gran Canaria - Pinos de Galdar in the WinterAs a result of John Tropea’s wonderful blog post from yesterday, which I have blogged about over here, there has been also quite an interesting and rather refreshing conversation developing on the side over at Google Plus around the topics of business processes, BRP (Barely Repeatable Processes), the role of traditional hierarchies and structures in today’s work environment while mixing and mingling with a networked organisation and where learning fits in there altogether. Some fascinating stuff in there, for sure! And one of the various reasons why I keep digging quite a bit G+ over other social networking sites. The depth of the conversations has been like no other so far! And it’s thanks to those conversations themselves how one keeps bumping into golden nuggets like the one shared yesterday by Dennis Callahan on that very same thread around “The Future of Work“.

Yes, indeed, you may have noticed how the last few blog posts have continued to raise my interest around the topic of The Future of Work and how social networking and social computing tools are helping redefine how we view and interact at work within a corporate environment to make it much more open, transparent, trustworthy, networked, meaningful. Well, it looks like that interest keeps growing further, specially, after going through that fantastic article put together by Dennis where he has shared 19 different very enlightening and educational resources on The Future of Work, ranging from links to other insightful blog entries, to short video clips, presentations, etc. etc. Quite a goldmine on its own right there, for sure!

However, from all of those resources mentioned by him, and which I would strongly recommend you all go through them, since they will be worth while your time, specially, if you are interested in this topic as well, there is one in particular that I thought I would expand further on it for a bit. More than anything else, because of how much it resonated with how I view work myself, but, perhaps much more importantly, because of how well it describes the current work I have been doing myself, and a whole bunch of other people!, for the last few years. And still going strong…

Time and time again I keep getting asked what my work day as a KMer, Community Builder and Social Computing Evangelist looks like, specially, while working at a large IT corporation that has been there, alive and kicking, for the last 100 years and counting… At times, it presents a bit of a challenge in itself, since I guess it’s pretty tough to try to describe what you are passionate about in an eloquent manner; too many things to cover in such a short time!; basically, that stuff you know you could talk for ages and ages yourself and never get tired of it. Yes, I guess that passion for what you do will describe it quite nicely at this stage. Well, T.A. McCann, founder of, just did that beautifully for me over a couple of minutes in a short interview under the suggestive title of “The Future of Work Is Now“, which he himself blogged about over here.

It’s a priceless gem, for certain! I can tell you that! If we have been talking for a little bit now about The Future of the Workplace, about what meaningful, networked, freelanced, intrapreneurial (corporate) work is all about, T.A. McCann pretty much nails it on that short interview. I just couldn’t put it in much better words than what he did. If not, judge for yourselves:

Mind-blowing, isn’t it? Who would have thought that in that future of work concepts like multiple jobs across a working lifetime, having fun @ work, work life balance no longer there, retirement would no longer exist, do your best effort at all times, connecting and reaching out to others who share a common passion on a particular topic / goal with you, learning as a key driver of working together effectively, etc. etc. would be helping redefine how we view AND live our workplace(s). And all of that thanks to the emergence of social networking tools within the enterprise and beyond! Not too bad, right?

I am not sure what you folks would think, probably  that I am a dreamer or someone trying to live to the fullest an unrealistic, utopian business world that will never see the light, specially in today’s working environment. Perhaps too optimistic, too outrageously excited and eager for what’s to come. Well, may be. May be not. Who knows. The reality is that’s the current work environment I have been living, experiencing AND enjoying for the last couple of years, and I know for certain I am not the only one going through this, so I doubt it would be a dream any longer. More of an ever-growing reality, rather. It’s probably just a matter for us, knowledge workers, to define how we would want to make it work for ourselves; basically, have knowledge workers create and define their ideal job role(s) and get down to business.

After all, remember, “Individuals will have more freedom and power than ever before.

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The Future of Work by Luis Suarez (Full Version)

A couple of days back, you would remember how I created a blog post where I was mentioning a short video-conference interview I participated in where I briefly talked, along with William Pulleyblank, on the topic of The Future of Work and the implications for the corporate world and the workplace, specially from the perspective of the impact of Enterprise 2.0 within the business environment and how it is changing the way knowledge workers interact with one another to collaborate and share knowledge together.

Well, I am back at it again! First, to let those folks who may not have been able to see the video just yet that they can now watch it through YouTube (See embedded video below as well):

And, secondly, that, as I have mentioned on the original blog post, there is a second video conference clip, much longer than the one mentioned above, and where I have touched on various different topics very much related to that topic of "The Future of Work". The direct link to the video can be found over here and I have also taken the liberty of embedding it below, so that you can start playing it back if you would want to right from this blog post:

The Future of Work by Luis Suarez from Luis Suarez on Vimeo.

It lasts for about 30 minutes and, like I was saying above once more, I talked about several different topics all of them related to the impact of Enterprise 2.0 and Social Computing within the corporate workplace and how it is changing the way we all work inside and outside the firewall.

But instead of me just letting you know some more of the specifics behind the actual topics I covered, I am actually going to do something new I haven’t done before in this blog, which is basically use the über cool application that one of my fellow IBM colleagues, and good friend, Jonathan Feinberg (Father of other IBM fantastic social software applications like Dogear and Cattail), put together out there available to everyone. Yes, indeed, I am talking about Wordle, the wonderfully crafted & amazing tool that generates very suggestive "word clouds" which can keep you busy looking at them for hours and hours to no end!

Thus without much further ado, here is the Wordle from The Future of Work by Luis Suarez:

(From here a BIG and special THANKS MUCH! to all of the folks who made the whole video-conferencing interview possible; from the logistics, to the recording, to the final post-production and availability of the video interview itself, I want to take this opportunity to thank Avi Drucker, Courtney Shelton, George Faulkner, Jeremy Hodge and Mareike Politycki.

Yes, folks, *that* is the younger generation that’s about to enter the workplace, if they haven’t done so already! (Ok, ok, George is a little bit older to be entering the workplace now! :-D heh))

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