To be or not to be … able to adapt - the need of flexibility in uncertain times
It is a series of articles based on a book by Jacob Morgan 'The Future of Work' (2014).
According to the famous chess player Garri Kasparov, what differs a winner from a loser is the willingness to do the 'unthinkable'. The slightly ambiguous and brutally honest words do not surprise anymore. They, however, do remind us about the need for a fresh perspective, new distance, and critical look on our work; despite whether our career, project or simply our life plans are a success or not.
In his book “The future of work” Jacob Morgan compares the reality of the world of work to a game of chess. Which, as an analogy is not entirely a missed comparison. Even though the world changes much quicker, and in planning next moves, the future is far more complex than in the limited universe of a chessboard. Nonetheless, it all comes down to the mutual constant, which is STRATEGIC PLANNING.
Another lesson that is reminded to us by the analogy of worlds of work and chess is how in strategic planning new views of old ideas are equally as valuable as completely original ones. Key to that approach is the ability to adapt as quickly as the world settles into yet another change. To remain stagnant in the world of work (but to be honest, any aspect of human life) can eventually be the cause of a failure. Even a thriving business would not resist the pressure of changes and either fail or adapt, especially with young employees entering the job market, bringing the innovation of their generation to the equation.
According to Jacob Morgan, the five trends shaping the world of work are as follow:
To adapt, and use these trends to the fullest in a beneficial way, the world of work needs to face a significant transformation. The foundation stone to be laid first is the change of the understanding and perception of words such as WORK and for example, MANAGER. Currently, it appears that for many people, those terms have rather negative associations, and for 1) new behaviours, as well as new expectations, to bring positive outcomes those negative associations must be addressed and actively and progressively changed.
Trends show an increase in the value of free time and development amongst 3) Millennials, and now also generations Y and Z, which are appearing on the work market. Younger generations; Y and Z, also tend to pay more attention to the CORPORATE CULTURE, the presence of INNOVATIVE thinking, but first and foremost, the workplace ETHOS and POLICY. In case the workplace does not facilitate or meet the expectations mentioned above' now/young' employees are much more willing to change their work environment altogether. While doing so they would certainly share any experience and opinions they have about the employer on an online portal (for eg. GoWork).
The process of adaptability is facilitated but also sped up by new 2) technology. Available variety of technological solutions may be as much of a blessing as a curse for entrepreneurs and businesses, in REVIT.HR we came across cases of companies which struggled with the technological overload and others who did not see the need to embrace new technologies in HR. The truth is on the market there is a myriad of helpful tools, but to choose exactly and only those that will be the most beneficial for the business are the ones who will really add value to the people and the culture of the company.
5) Globalisation has a similar effect as 2) technology; if carefully used can be beneficial; however, overdose can be a cause of serious issues. Whatmore, 5) globalisation brings to the table a set of new expectations, matters which did not require an immediate response before, and standards that need to adapt quickly to meet global reality.
A big trend which now in times of the pandemic, even more than ever, shapes the world of work is 4) mobility. For years now the topic of mobility has gained importance bringing forth such concepts as remote work, but also promoting more environmentally conscious means of communication to global attention. From this March, transportation is less of an environmental concern but more human health and safety. However, remote work, the concept of home office, and online learning for popular ideas became a reality almost overnight. This unexpected change proves how unpredictable the change can be and how important it is to adapt, remain flexible. With the ability to look for a fresh perspective on available solutions, even in times of global crisis like the one we are currently facing, the world of work can mean stable or even find means to grow.
An excellent example of such occurrence being true could be a number of restaurants and cafes which were opened during the past months and thanks to their adaptive approach (focusing on deliveries and online communication with customers) allowed them to keep afloat. In a similar spirit, there are also multiple retail, especially fashion, businesses which updated their online purchase policy to encourage clients buying online and continue sales despite the closed stores.
To sum up, I allow myself to remind us all of a quote by a certain great French philosopher "Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed." Following Pascal's thought, it is our great advantage to think, be aware of our actions and create, while remaining flexible and adaptive like a reed bending and adjusting itself to the changing weather. If we manage to stay this way, there will be no threat of 'breaking' in the future.