• The New Way of Working

    In today's world, the structure, content, and process of work have changed. The Internet seems to be a game-changer in all aspects of our lives and before we knew it, it changed the way we work. Global connection allows us to always be connected and informed, changing our thinking process, the tasks we complete and how we perform them. The Internet caused disruption that turned everything in 180 degrees: we no longer need to stay in the office from 9 to 5! Instead, we can embrace the flexibility and result-oriented approach. Work in the 21st century is fulfilling, intense and interactive. What exactly has changed and why?

    In the 21st century, work is:

     

    Cognitively complex new way of working

     

    More cognitively complex

     

    With the invention of computer, many tasks traditionally done by humans were overtaken by machines. As a result, the cognitive complexity of jobs is increasing, leaving low-educated people disadvantaged. The instant accessibility of information has also switched the focus from knowledge to skills. Now, we have to know how to find and analyse the information we need, rather than to just know it.

     

    More team-based and collaborative

     

    Increasing consumer expectations and competitiveness of the markets emphasises the need for innovation. Rapid technological advancement pushes companies to accelerate the creation of new and unexpected solutions. To succeed in this race for innovation, organizations have to facilitate collaboration (even with competitors!). Thus, people with different backgrounds and extensive knowledge of their field have to work together.

     

    Teamwork

     

    More dependent on social skills

     

    The increasing need for teamwork brings social skills to the top of essentials for a modern employee. Not surprisingly, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) often appears in leadership books as well as in job descriptions. One reason for this could be the technological advancement. Computers have overtaken many of the complex cognitive tasks and perform more efficiently than humans. However, human interactions are not computable, therefore social skills are our competitive advantage in the race with machines. Harvard University research states that in the last couple of decades, jobs with high social skill requirements have experienced greater relative growth throughout the wage distribution. Lastly, the increasing complexity of work and time-shortage might make employees more vulnerable, therefore the people who are more sensitive to others’ motivations and feelings may benefit at work.

     

     

    More time pressured

     

    Work now is not only about conducting more complex processes, but also about doing it faster and efficiently. Psychological pressure on the modern employees increases. The Internet comes as both an angel and a devil, as it is due to the Internet that we can manage tasks faster, but at the same time, it provides endless distractions in the form of social networks, games and videos that keep us away from getting things done. In the attention deprived society, the one who can avoid distraction will accomplish more and rise above the others. Switching the job away from social networks (like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) is one way to become more productive in managing projects and teams.

     

    Work on the road

     

    More mobile and less geography-dependent

     

    One of the main benefits of Internet is that we can be connected anywhere, which ultimately reflects the way we work. Being always connected, enables us to work at flexible times and locations. Moreover, it broadens the horizon of hiring options and enables project managers to gather the best talents from all over the world. Thus, employers start putting effort in creating more sustainable work environment and work technology. Enhanced employee wellbeing and result-driven approach to tasks results in a higher satisfaction rate.

     

     

    More transparent

     

    Big CEO scandals, financial crises and constant instability creates an air of distrust between members of an organization. We all heard of Worldcom (2001), Lehman Brothers (2008) and Bernie Madoff (2008), to name a few, who operated with BILLIONS of dollars in an unethical way to mislead the shareholders and general public, who had enormous trust for the companies. Not surprisingly, in the 21st century a lot of attention started to be devoted to authentic leadership and transparency at the workplace. Trust generally improves relationships within a team and makes collaboration easier. Moreover, the switch to online workplaces naturally brings more transparency into the operations of organizations, as all information is easily shared to multiple people at the same time. Besides, actions of our team members are tracked and displayed, making following up on a project status effortless. 

     

     

     

     

    Sources:

    http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/ddeming/files/deming_socialskills_august2015.pdf

     

     

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Wendy Chen