Future of Work...shall we stop trying to predict it?

Future of Work...shall we stop trying to predict it?

This article is part of the Forum Network series on Digitalisation

We’d all like to know this week’s lottery numbers but that shouldn’t make predicting the future priority #1. This is particularly true in modern business. Let me explain why.

At Ricoh, we’ve spent many years investigating what the future of work will look like. As a leading printing and technology company it would be strange if we didn’t! Yet our priority here is not on predicting the future per se but perfecting the role we play in helping businesses to transition and succeed on their digital journeys.

Looking to the future, one thing’s for sure: digital will change everything – and I mean everything.

I was recently invited to join the OECD Forum in Paris to discuss how we’ll all be working in the not too distant future. This was a truly inspiring event that got me thinking. A lot. Not about the gadgets and gizmos we’ll be using in the years ahead but the skills and mindsets we’ll need to thrive in what is sure to be an even faster, better connected and more demanding world of work.

I left the event convinced about a number of things.

  • Thanks to factors such as automation, a company’s reputation will be more important than ever before. Think how buying behaviours have changed in the last decade. This is set to evolve at an unprecedented rate. But what does this mean for businesses? I believe those that flourish will be the ones that humanise technology and offer that personal touch. Key to this is agility and not being afraid to deviate from the agreed plan as required. Underpinning this with robust processes is essential.
  • In the next decade, digitisation will dissolve the tired notion of the traditional ‘office environment’ and the very concept of work as we know it.
  • I also think we’ll need to be more creative and social. This is because the growing use and sophistication of automation will lead to a scramble for workers with the most creativity and broadest range of social skills. We all expect robotics and artificial intelligence to pick up the more repetitive tasks. And that’s a good thing, as it will make us a more collaborative and engaged workforce.

But, most of all, I am convinced that man and machine will continue to co-exist and complement one another. For me, these aren’t predictions – they’re certainties.

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