5 skills for the future of work

This is a summary of the talk I gave at Creative Summit 2017 in June.

Flexibility, self-management, project-based working, networks and collaboration. These were some of the characteristics of The Creative Economy, which was also made up of many independent, self-employed workers.

Today, these ways of working are not just for freelancers. They’re emerging in any company that has a need for creativity and innovation. These changes are also being driven by technology, as well as the desire for a more flexible working life from employees. Organisations are becoming more networked and dynamic, as people form temporary teams to get work done.

So the skills we’ll need to thrive in the future of work partly comes down to our ability to work well in these teams, ensuring that we create the conditions for people to do their best work together.

Here are five skills I believe we’ll need to develop to respond well to how the workplace is changing:

1. Self-awareness

Collaboration starts with the individual. To work better in teams, we need to know ourselves extremely well. This means: knowing what we’re good at, engaging in deep work to build expertise and skills, and understanding how and when we do our best work.

2. Exploring HOW we work together

Great teams use their creativity and problem-solving skills to innovate in the way they work as well as the products they create. They identify aspects to improve, collaboratively design solutions, experiment and continue to iterate.

3. Building trust in a team

Trust is one of the most important aspects of teamwork, including psychological safety, where people feel safe to take risks. Although this may develop organically in a team working together for a long time, what about temporary teams that need to form, storm, norm and perform quickly?

4. Looking at the big picture

When we take a step back and look strategically at where our work fits into the bigger picture, we understand how all the pieces fit together and make collaboration necessary. Being able to see the overall goal connects us to a higher purpose, keeping us and our teammates engaged and motivated.

5. Facilitation

On a practical level, facilitation means better workshops and meetings. But as a wider skill, it’s also the “killer app” to great collaboration. Facilitation creates the space for everyone to do their best work by encouraging open communication, creativity, productive conflict and making sure all voices are heard.

When we’re faced with new innovation challenges, we’ll need to work in new ways and across diverse expertise to get the best outcomes. The skills for the future of work (which is already here!) are the ones that keep us responsive and adaptive to what’s in front of us.

Image credit: Tolga Kilinc on Unsplash

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