future of tech work

Future of Tech Work: Get Ready for Multiple Careers

Part 2

Developing the future of work can be an organizational challenge and is even harder when technologies, especially new ones, come into play. Daunting enough of a topic, this extensive Deloitte study comes in two parts, the first one being “The Who, What, Where of the Future of Work in Tech,” also published here. It remains to be seen what challenges people more, though. Is it solving an immediate or looking at the big picture? 

The study points to skipping the former for imagining the organization’s future in a three- to five-year time frame instead. It’s part of a method it calls “Imagine-Compose-Activate.” It’s advised that the future of work and business be imagined without constraints (don’t think of budget, staffing, others), as it’s normal for restrictions to evolve over time, anyway. 

The second part of this method, Composing, is about laying the groundwork for work, workforce, and workplace components before finally, activating the future of work by initiating changes to the workforce and workplace and determining how to measure and report outcomes. In its interview with executives, it provided three overarching lessons to help enable the Imagine-Compose-Activate process: zoom out first; access, curate and engage talent, and iterate, deliver and repeat.

Zoom out first or look at the big picture

Instead of pouring over problematic details, consider looking at the big picture first, taking into account changes in work, workforce, and workplace. Picture a 3- to 5-year business uncensored by your own inner voice. The key is to get “unstuck” from the present and drive a progressive mindset that could help one see unrealized potentials.

Access, curate, and engage talent

Try the Access-Curate-Engage approach. This is when organizations access talent on the open continuum and curate consumer-grade learning experiences that can enable technology athletes to build skills in real time. To engage talent, realign rewards, incentives, and leadership to support and enable idea generation, co-creation, collaboration, accountability, and transparency.

Iterate, deliver, and repeat

The future of work transformation is a journey, not a destination. Iteration has been the tech business’ nomenclature for a good reason. Work in technology is continually changing and leaders in many technology organizations will need to adapt quickly.

Yes, work nowadays relies on technology, but the latter doesn’t just support business resources. It goes hand in hand in work outcomes. The term, minimum viable product or MVP, for instance, is one work outcome that has helped many tech companies release products early. It is the key to business competitiveness and co-creation based on customer feedback — and strategic tech partnerships.

Technology leaders need to elevate the tech fluency of business counterparts — the finance, HR, and procurement leaders.

Before jumping ahead to reskilling the workforce or redesigning the workplace, leaders  need to understand the shift in technology work could create chaos and confusion. Work outcomes and workforce decisions together can help determine the type of physical workspace, collaboration tools, and culture needed to support the change.

As the study stresses, gone are the days when professionals crafted and perfected their skills over decades, even lifetimes. An average employee may have multiple careers in an organization. To engage and retain high performers, leaders should develop continuous learning programs that provide real-time skills acquisition, on-the-job training, and experience-based rapid knowledge transfer.

Technology leaders can keep informed of emerging technology trends and their business implications. Many leverage partner ecosystems to tap into new technologies, while others collaborate with universities and incubation hubs or invest in startups. Knowledge acquired as the result of such “tech sensing” approaches should be disseminated throughout the organization to help increase technology fluency.

Companies and global mobility managers need to be aware of the new era of tech workers: Top talents prefer to work for companies that believe in and significantly contribute to meaningful causes. Authentically align the organization to environmental issues, human development, public health, or other relevant causes. 

Leaders crafting the future of work in technology can devise ways to consistently understand and agree on risk appetite with key stakeholders and make decisions and course corrections accordingly. Collaborating to make more informed, data-driven decisions is imperative.

Focusing on the big picture, rather than a single solution, can help leaders take the first steps toward creating the future of work in tech. Foundational change takes time. Simply reskilling staff, bringing on a new leadership team, or automating existing work likely will not alleviate current challenges. Instead, a wholistic plan that employs multiple work, workforce, and workplace strategies has a higher likelihood of success.