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The Science Of: The Future Workplace 23 July 2013

Primedia Broadcasting on July 23, 2013 18:06

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    Every Tuesday night we do a feature entitled The Science Of. In this feature we explore interesting businesses or business concepts in a bit more depth.

    Tonight the focus is on the "Future Workplace" and providing insight was Dr. Grame Codrington, an expert on the New World of Work and co-author of the book, Future-proof Your Child.

    Graeme said that his interest into the future of the workplace turned into a career after a his life in the corporate world ended in a move into Sociology, wherein he obtained a Masters degree.

    Graeme's work involves predicting future trends in business and the workplace at large.

    With is work based on "the future", does the unknown scare Graeme as much as it does most?

    "I think it scares me just as much as it scares everybody," he said laughingly, "I am just lucky enough to have the job of taking it head on I suppose".

    With the world supposedly meant to have ended in 2012, predictions are often regarded as, well, something we can't really rely on.

    "I hope my audiences forget the ones I get wrong and remember the ones I get right," jokes Graeme.

    "We say that we are predicting the future but nobody really can. Anyone who is in this game realizes both the difficulty and the stupidity of making crazy predictions. Your predictions are either wrong in timing or in substance," he said.

    The workplace today is an entirely different place to that of just 20 years ago: there were computers but they didn't communicate with one another. Forget e-mails, the most advanced message format was one printed on a piece of paper and delivered by hand.

    Now, we live in a world with Twitter, Facebook, and the ability to create your own website. Habits are changing at an increasing rate, making predicting the future that much trickier.

    "Well, yes and no. What you are not trying to do is predict specifics," said Graeme.

    He referred to Star Trek and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, both of which explain and depict technology that were once thought unlikely, such as the handheld device mentioned in by Douglas Adams which would contain all the books in the world.

    When reading the book to his 11 year-old, the response was, "Is that a Kindle?".

    "You can make predictions, you can have fun with it but what our team is a lot more focused on is not to look at specific predictions but to look at the trends," said Graeme.

    He discussed the overlap of him as a consultant and him as a parent concerned about the future of his children when asked the question, 'daddy, what should I do / become in 2023?'.

    "Business leaders have to do the same thing [as parents]. Should I invest in this factory? Should I purchase this brand that's suddenly available? They are really asking, 'is this a commodity that is going to be in demand in 2023?'," he said.

    Graeme said there are three key trends to look out for:

    • Technology Trends

    "We need to ask ourselves what it is we are seeing in technology and where we expect that to go," he said.

    "Everything we are seeing is more mobile, more flexible, more virtual, more powerful - in the palm of your hand"

    • Personalise: Demographic shifts and Social Values

    "This is people's expectations of what the world of work should be like," he explained.

    "The one thing we do know for sure about the future is that today's 45 year-olds are not going to retire at 65 years-old"

    Although a tough message for most, Graeme explained that with living longer, you may not want to retire as early. Of course, you may not be able to afford retirement at 65.

    Bringing in demographics, he referenced a great (or frightening) statistic: More than half of the people who have ever turned 80 are still alive.

    • Mobility

    With the combination of the advancement of technology, the movement of demographics and the way in which people are moving their value sets with them, Graeme argues that predictions can be made.

    Are there any jobs that might not exist in 20 years time?

    According to research from Harvard University, at least a third of their 2013 graduates who were offered jobs, have gone into jobs that did not exist when they started high school.

    "One of the trends is that specialists are generally secure, but generalists are not. I would not want to be a General Practitioner doctor, the general accountant, the general lawyer... I believe these jobs will not exist by 2020," he said.

    Thus, the future workplace requires an entirely different mindset about how you approach your career and how you approach life and a commitment to lifelong learning.

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