Take four professionals at the top of their game and challenge them to think about what the future holds for business and tomorrow’s workforce.
That’s what happened today at Workfront’s inaugural Best of Leap user conference in London.
Workfront’s CMO Joe Staples pitched sharp questions at a four-strong team:
Clare Evens, time management and productivity coach, and author of “Time Management for Dummies.”
Ian Cleary, Founder of RazorSocial, content marketer, and professional blogger.
Philip Sheldrake, Managing Partner of Euler Partners, author of “The Business of Influence.”
Jennifer Gilligan, Enterprise Delivery Manager at Telegraph Media Group.
So, here’s an abridged version of the debate—capturing the flavour of our brain-trust’s thoughts.
Q. What are the biggest obstacles to gaining greater efficiency in future?
Ian: Large companies can’t work—they’re too slow. They need to work in a more agile environment and work on shorter cycles. The culture of large companies needs to change—they need to work quicker.
Q. It’s nearly 60 years since Peter Drucker came up with the idea of “knowledge workers.” How does the role of the knowledge worker change in future?
Clare: We’re getting overloaded with information to some extent. But change in technology, systems and processes are helping with that. Knowledge workers are becoming more important.
Philip: There’s knowledge of what, knowledge of how, and knowledge of why. Knowledge of what: that’s the role of computers. If you’re working on the knowledge of how and why, then you’re knocking on the door to wisdom.
Q. If our research and McKinsey’s research suggest that knowledge workers only spend 39% of their time on the tasks they are meant to do, how do we become more productive and drive out shadow work?
Clare: We’re getting distracted by emails, meetings, and time is being wasted on a daily basis. How do you deal with those interruptions? You need to set clear boundaries around your time; you need to question every interruption or distraction—asking if it’s a valid interruption. You need to say ‘no’ more often or even ‘Can I talk to you later?'
Q. What advice do you have about producing more work of a higher quality?
Jennifer: If you try to implement too big a change, you will fall behind. By the time something has been implemented, things have changed and you fall behind. So, I prefer looking for marginal gains and an agile approach to improving things.
Q. What is technology’s role in the future of work?
Philip: There was a report a few years ago about artificial intelligence and automation and the impact on jobs in future and it gave 50-50 odds of survival. AI and robotics are moving faster than people working in those fields ever anticipated. We’re seeing a kind of compound growth. And it’s going to change the way you design careers.
Ian: Technology is going to help with productivity. There’ll be really good software that analyses all employees—and even sees who is going to leave next.
Clare: With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, millennials are sharing a lot of data about themselves. And think about how employers could use health tracking apps to help monitor and improve the health and wellbeing of their workforce. Yes, it might sound Big Brother-ish, but it really could help.
Philip: Surveillance is when they’re watching you. Sousveillance is when you are watching them. What we’re moving to is Veillance where we’re watching out for each other.
Were our panellists right? How would you answer Joe’s questions about the future of work?
Get caught up on all of the stories coming out of Best of Leap 2017 with these posts:
"Messages From Eddie Obeng, A Man Living The Future" with Professor Eddie Obeng
"Get Ready For The 4 Challenges Shaping The Future Of Work" with Workfront CEO Alex Shootman
"Send Spreadsheets Back To The 1980s And Unlock Right-First-Time Creativity" with Glenn Joyce at Boden
About the Author
Shelbi is an experienced public relations professional with experience in both agency and corporate marketing environments. She currently guides brand awareness, market research, analyst relations, and customer content. She has nearly a decade of BtoB and BtoC experience helping companies tell their stories in the changing media landscape — in traditional media outlets, social media, and now through content marketing.Follow on Twitter More Content by Shelbi Gomez