The future of work

With the removal of unnecessary brick and mortar as well as bulky equipment, businesses are undergoing a very drastic change.

Stores may well become obsolete in the coming years. Landlords may have to find another way to collect rents from tenants. Warehousing may be in the rise though, since the middlemen are often being removed in business areas such as retailing in recent years. Online shopping is becoming prevalent as people’s work and life pace increase and time for leisure shopping plummets. Think Qoo10.sg and Alibaba.com

With a computer and a printer, much can be achieved for typical individuals who wish to strike out on a career of their own. In the past, there seems to be only two career options for working professionals – working in a corporate office and starting a company as an entrepreneur. The profession in the middle spectrum – often known as “freelancing” – seems not to shine as brightly as the other two.

With the emergence of the internet and email, coupled with the advance of technology and of course, crowdsourcing, freelancing is now not only considered as a valid career option. It has, in fact, become regarded by most as the one with the most potential to change the work landscape of the future.

This is especially so if the freelancers deal with the knowledge aspects of business, enabling online users to flow information freely. Just look at how much Twitter is worth after going public, or how well Facebook is doing, or how goggle docs are excelling, or how flickr is enabling millions to share their photos. Do I need to go on? Even the term “technopreneursounds cool.

Any corporate employees who have worked  or are working in large organisations would probably recognise the fact that any organisations, especially those that span several countries and even continents, are powerful in their ability to be productive. However, on the flip side, such organisations are juggernauts and are hard to be mobile than their smaller counterparts, such as the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Now, in comes the freelancers who are often globe-trekkers. Who is the most mobile now?

This brings to mind the latest book by Malcolm Gladwell: “David & Goliath“, emphasising how the underdogs win the day and how the adage “big and strong are cool” doesn’t work anymore.

Strangers are coming together from every corner of the world to create a work place that is an oasis for all who love working with written language so commonly used in emails, which means linguistic fluency is one factor that will be in great demand in the coming years.

Connections are also increasingly being emphasised in the new workplace. And in order to do well, swapping business cards are passé now. We are now looking at online portfolios by individuals and organisations. Customers want real time contact with their companies, know what they are up to and feedback on their products and services. Here is where social media comes in – the essential tool that builds bridges between the various parties. Hence, we need to become  – in Malcolm Gladwell’s words – “connectors“.

So, there you have it – the two skill sets of the future:  linguistic fluency and connections.

But it doesn’t hurt to learn be more IT-savvy by learning programming and codings.

After all, the future of business lies with technology, doesn’t it?

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