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The rise of self-employed experts and project work – 6 skills for employees of the future


31.01.2019

5 min read

Blog, Future of Work, Sustainability


Work will increasingly be global, project-based and technology intensive, based on The Future Work in UK report. It is a trend that employers are investing on their employees less and less, hence the responsibility in developing one’s own skills is employees’ own responsibility. Taking responsibility of one’s own learning is crucial. Key skills for employees of the future are:

  • Resilience
  • Adaptability
  • Resourcefulness
  • Enterprise skills
  • Cognitive skills – such as problem solving
  • Core business skills for project based employment

Also interconnectedness is emphasized in KPMG states in their report. It is clear that the rise of an individual is clear. It comes down to entreployees, concept originally introduced by Pongratz and Voss, and experts with personal mastery (Peter M. Senge) who know why to work, how to fit work into one’s life, how to take care of career development, and how to manage one’s skills and capabilities. Most of all, how can work give the needed meaning and purpose, and how to apply systems thinking in life.

Many of the world’s largest economies have been in a prolonged productivity slump, where sinking economical hopes are feeding unconstructive us-versus-them discourse. Many of us now work on contingent basis in projects and Millennials change jobs every two years or less. Organizational commitment as an individual’s psychological attachment to the organization seems to be disappearing. In addition ICT has kick-started the massive changes in job design and structures, from deep hierarchical organizations into virtual teams with fluid job designs.

Organizational structures are aggressively changing and rising of new technologies is accelerating the change.

Over 80% of all companies rate their businesses highly complex. This research shows that 92% of companies believe their organizational design is not working, yet only 14% know how to fix it. I have participated several discussions about leadership and organizations, which operate in high turbulence. In these discussions in virtual platforms and in my workshops people have addressed their frustration about fragmented work, information overload and lack of knowledge management practices and lack of leadership in organizations. People are more and more being hired to do the work, to get the project done, to lead a team and to be ready to switch jobs as needed. This leads to increased need for entrepreneurship and entrepreloyees with new kinds of competencies.

There are high hopes for productivity increase from IoT and rising technologies.

However according to Gary Hamel, productivity rise is not likely unless bureaucracy is reduced through cutting the number of managers in companies. There simply is no need for so many managers anymore. One big challenge – but also an opportunity – is project based work, fragmented organizations and high uncertainty in industries. Uncertainty is also linked to innovations and learning and therefore it would be beneficial to view it as an opportunity. Based on Wakefield et al (2016), collaboration skills are needed, because people will work more and more in ecosystems, across generations, geographies and cultures in internal and external teams, often in different platforms. In global work markets this requires better virtual communication competence, which means e.g. cultural sensitivity, language skills, listening skills, media skills and mastery in using ICT.

Are we on a way to fragmented work, where individuals are mostly responsible of themselves and their own career? We are in need for experts and leaders with communication and collaboration competence. We also need companies, which offer platforms for:

  • Idea generation
  • Launching new multi-disciplinary projects
  • Managing the projects of dream teams
  • Communicating the results in a way, that more and more experts and leaders are willing to join such dream teams

We need individuals who are capable of seeing the world and organizations holistically, with sensitivity, and skills in self-leadership. We need professionals with an ability to see opportunities in uncertainty and making the most of it.

For this development Solved is being part of. Feel free to join the community of new opportunities.

Updated 31 Jan 2019

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