All that future of work stuff #cipdace16

The future of work.  A theme of the conference today. 

Often written about (including, tbh, quite a bit by me).  We can see some of the trends that are coming in the world of work, but even those of us that read about it and write about it have to confess we don’t really know all that much.  Earlier today in the keynote we heard that the life of a business plan today is a maximum of two years. 

There are plenty of cliches too.  Sound the ‘pace of change is increasing’ klaxon if you will…… And let’s stay well away from too much VUCA chat. 

Every session I’ve attended today has focused on the future. What it will take to be successful. Technology. How we can learn differently, today and tomorrow. Skills, automation, implications for people. 

My final session of the day is a panel session, chaired by Jo Swinson, Former Minister for Employment Relations, Richard MacKinnon from the Future Work Centre, Valerie Todd from Crossrail and Laura Harrison from the CIPD as we debate the future of work, skills, automation and people.

Here are some of the thoughts from the panel…….

Richard talks about the point that the future is hard to predict. That there have always been times of uncertainty, disruption and great change. But most change happens incrementally. This is true too of the future of work. What HR needs to do is avoid following fads and fashions. It is our role to challenge assumptions.  

In change there are often winners and losers. Some that can adapt better than others, individuals and organisations alike. 

The challenge for HR is how to have a critical discussion about what this means in our own context and how this will impact our businesses. How can we understand what will truly impact our organisations and how we should react to it. These are difficult things to deal with. How do organisations become more successful in the future? Neil asks how we help people to morph into the new roles that will exist. They will need help to learn and a supportive framework in which to do it. 

It starts with leadership. We need in HR too to help our leaders with all this stuff – including the tech. 

We need also to reclaim technology – make it people led rather than led by the technology and functionality itself. 

If we do these things we can help to ensure there are more winners than losers in the future of work. 

Automation.  Fundamentally changing jobs and work.  (nothing new there then). 

And then a key question for the room – how will our profession adapt? There will be more technology certainly. Automation will happen more and more for our key processes – with caution to keep the human element. HR robot anyone? 

I’ve enjoyed all the discussions today. But I can’t predict this stuff.  None of us are Cassandra. The only certainty for us is more change. The only response we have available to us in HR is adaption. And this might just be our greatest challenge. 

The point about the speed of adoption as well as the speed of change is well made. As Peter Cheese often says (quoting William Gibson) – the future is already here.  It is just evenly distributed.


This is a live blog – please excuse any typos! 

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