With the publication of the The Career Equation book just around the corner, I’ve been giving some thought to what trends may emerge for careers post-pandemic and made a few predictions.
I was in the interesting position of writing a book about the Future of Work and the ways the careers will be shaped in the 21st-century whilst a pandemic was unfolding all over the world all over the globe and fundamentally shifting a perception of what work is valuable, redefining where it takes place and what works means to people.
As a keynote, for many years I had a slide at the start of my deck.
The slide was concerned with the trends that might influence and impact the ways we managed our careers in the future.
Suffice it to say I need a new slide.
Many of the trends that I have predicted were accelerated by the fundamental disruptions caused by the pandemic.
1. The bullets on this slide were: Digital nomads – the ability to work from anywhere and form virtual and global teams
2. AI – the use of artificial intelligence to complement and replace humans at work and
3. Universal Basic Income – when there isn’t enough work for everyone, we will replace welfare payments with a universal basic living income and people will then choose what work they do in addition, if any.
I think I did rather well with this trend prediction. Let’s take at look at what these three and a couple of other trends, will have on the future of the post-pandemic work landscape.
Prediction 1: Recruit from anywhere, work from anywhere
The pool of talent has expanded. Realising that working from home can work, has meant that you can recruit the very best people, regardless of whether they live locally.
This will mean that employees with desirable skills or experience will have the pick of roles way beyond their geography.
They will be able to do this work anywhere and indeed, may take the opportunity to live elsewhere, no longer tied to their geography.
This will lead to a mass exodus from capital cities with high costs of living to more quality of life locations, all over the world.
Prediction 2: Working with someone I have never shared a room with
More and more of us will be inducted into these virtual teams.
This will mean that induction programmes take place remotely and it may be some time, if ever, before we meet in person as a whole team.
The trend for global travel for professionals is over.
There will need to be a strong business case justification for long haul travel and several events will be combined in one visit to justify the environmental cost.
We will improve our ability to forge our connections and build strong teams across a distance, supported by AI, technological tools and collaboration platforms.
Prediction 3: Work matters more … (You can now pre-order The Career Equation book for more insights)
The post-pandemic environment has provoked two key existential reflections.
The first, is that not all well paid work really delivers value to society.
The second is, that as we reflect on our mortality, we realise we want work to count for something.
If we are to spend the precious hours of our lives away from those we love, we want to exchange that time for something meaningful and worth doing.
Companies will be judged on their contribution to society and ethics, environmental sustainability and values led leadership will become much more important to employees.Erica Sosna, 2021
Prediction 4: Go my own way
As a result of the above factors, many more people will choose to work for themselves, either running their own business or working on a portfolio of activity that might include employment.
Creativity and enterprise will be unlocked, as some key talent are forced to pivot due to cuts and changes in their sector (retail, travel, hospitality, events and the arts).
Still others will have taken this time to reflect on what matters most and realise they have a dream, idea or product that could buy them significant freedom and income. They will choose to invest in exploring this.
Prediction 5: Autonomous career design
I do believe that Universal Basic Income will become a reality in Western society, within my working life.
The question then becomes, if you didn’t have to go to work to pay the bills, would you still go?
The above trends indicate that, given the space and time, many people would change their career direction, perhaps retrain, or at least, design a working life that better suits their interests, personality and working style.
As someone who focuses in on helping people to have careers that really suit their DNA and unique personality and design (read it all in the The Career Equation book) I’m really curious about how many people given the opportunity to not go to work would continue to do so.
If they do they’ll be doing it for the reason that they enjoy the work that they’re doing and that can only be a positive thing.
We will also be redefining what work is for … using The Career Equation® or other models.
Uncoupled from the need to make money to sustain ourselves, it will be about an exchange of a time and skills being exchanged for more than money alone. Instead will be able to develop and advance our interests and our curiosities without needing to monetise them.
This may accelerate the amount of contribution in terms of volunteering time that we give to a wider society and will also result I think in real uptick in terms of well-being and mental health as people are given the space and time to live their lives and to spend that time in ways that feel most meaningful to them.
If your people are considering a career shift in the light of the pandemic, here are some thoughts on how to engage in a dynamic career conversation with them around this future landscape.
1) Get curious about how each person defines success – using The Career Equation® or a similar structured model for quality career conversations that explore how their aspirations and direction may have shifted
2) Formally capture the insights that result – their skills, aspirations and direction of travel in a portfolio accessible to themselves and the wider business
3) Provide targeted job push notifications that suit their interests and aspirations – even if they do not currently have a job seeking flag hoisted right now and
4) Continue to take a personalised interest in who they are and where they are going
5) Invest in career development tailored to their future interest, even if this study does not immediately align with the work they do at the moment, equip people to work more effectively at a distance. Get dynamic around job re-design and create contracts and working conditions to line up with career aspirations for the future
6) Provide the business with quality data about changing aspirations to enable a more responsive organisational design, giving both employee and employer a chance to have what they want and need.