Three ideas for the future of work

This is a summary of a talk I gave at Social Fabric’s regular event series on my vision for the future of work:

  1. The workplace will look more like a network of freelancers

For the creative industries, the “future of work” has been here for a while. Books like “The Independents” (Leadbeater & Oakley, 1999), “The Creative Eonomy” (Howkins, first published in 2001) and “The Rise of the Creative Class” (Florida, 2002) described how the creative industries were characterised by independent workers, portfolio careers, temporary teams and project-based working. Fluid, flexible working structures brought together the right expertise at the right time to drive innovation.

Now other industries are catching up. Today’s organisational challenges, such as rapidly evolving consumer expectations and the need for new business models, are requiring companies to move faster than ever. To find new solutions, they need to bring diverse expertise and knowledge together in more agile and creative ways of working – collaboration is the new competitive advantage.

  1. The task of inspiring teamwork and creativity will not just be the domain of the manager

Employees are demanding workplaces that enable them to use their creativity, work flexibly and have more autonomy. They know that great teamwork takes more than simply putting people in a room together and hoping for the best.

Anyone whose role involves an element of creativity or innovation can find themselves in an unofficial leadership role – gathering buy-in and input for a new project or idea. They need to know how to inspire teamwork and creativity in their co-workers. This new way of working needs a new set of skills.

  1. A new role will emerge in the workplace for facilitating teams

Collaborative workplaces need people that are able to build great teams and help them to do their best work together. The “Professional Triber”, as defined by Joe Tankersley sums this up perfectly in Fast Company article “The Top Jobs In 10 Years Might Not Be What You Expect

“…the role of a professional triber—a freelance professional manager that specializes in putting teams together for very specific projects—will be in demand….”

But perhaps we don’t have to wait until 2026. Stripe are already experimenting with a Bring Your Own Team (BYOT) approach to hiring.
We use the phrase “future of work”, but for some companies these ideas have already started to take shape. The next challenge is to make sure we have the right mindsets, skills and people in place to make them work.

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