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Gartner: 10 Changes in the Nature of Work in Next 10 Years

"ORGANIZATIONS WILL NEED TO PLAN for increasingly chaotic environments that are out of their direct control, and adaptation must involve adjusting to all 10 of the trends (listed below)", observers Gartner fellow and VP, Tom Austin.
In a report published earlier this year titled "Watchlist: Continuing Changes in the Nature of Work, 2010-2020", Gartner says that organizations will need to determine which of the 10 key changes in the nature of work will affect them the most, and consider whether radically different technology models will be required to address them.

The other key message that emerges out of the report's overall analysis says:
Work will become less routine, characterized by increased volatility, hyper-connectedness, 'swarming' and by 2015, 40 percent or more of an organization's work will be "non-routine," up from 25 percent in 2010.
Later next month, Tom Austin is scheduled to speak in London on these trends:
  1. De-routinization of Work: Non-routine skills are those we cannot automate. The report argues that the core value that people add is not in the processes that can be automated, but in non-routine processes, uniquely human, analytical or interactive contributions that result in words such as discovery, innovation, teaming, leading, selling and learning.
  2. Work Swarms: A kind of work pattern involving a flurry of collective activity by anyone who is available and who could add value, is defined as Work Swarms. The report indicates two phenomena within the collective and apparently unstructured activity: One is that Swarms form quickly, attacking a problem or opportunity and then quickly dissipating. And secondly, Swarming is an agile response to an observed increase in ad-hoc action requirements, as ad-hoc activities continue to displace structured, bureaucratic situations.
  3. Weak Links: Members of a Work Swarm may not 'know' each other in the classical sense, or even have a strong or moderate reference. There relationship remains largely temporary, and the report labels it as Weak links. They are indirect indicators which partially rely on the confidence others have in their knowledge of people. Social Networking comes into play at personal as well as professional level that would contribute to Work Swarms.
  4. Working with the Collective: "the Collective" are external forces, mainly disparate groups of people tied together by common interests, that are not controlled by the organization but who could impact the success-rate of the organization. Their potential for influence is very high. The report suggests that smart and powerful business executives who live within the business ecosystem which they can not control, will do the market research and come up with ways to work with "the collective" to wield influence in their organizations for their benefit.
  5. Work Sketch-ups: Most non-routine processes that could not be automated will also be highly informal and non-standard. The process models for most non-routine processes will remain simple "sketch-ups" which are created on the fly. The practice will evolve over time to be able to identify meaningful patterns of these processes and structure them.
  6. Spontaneous Work: Spontaneity implies more than reactive activity. The report says that as in Work Swarms, spontaneous and proactive activities would also emerge, forming its own patterns such as seeking out new opportunities and creating new designs and models. 
  7. Simulation and Experimentation: Interface with virtual environment will increase many fold, where technologies such as 3D interfacing with data (akin to the Spielberg film Minority Report) will replace spreadsheets and traditional number crunching. The contents of the simulated environment will be assembled by agent technologies that determine what materials go together based on watching people work with this content.
  8. Pattern Sensitivity: This is Gartner's forward looking management strategy approach called "pattern-based strategy". The report argues that the business world is becoming more volatile, with far less visibility into the future than ever before. Organizations will have to create focus groups to identify divergent emerging patterns, to evaluate those patterns, and to develop various scenarios showing how the disruption might play out.
  9. Hyper-connected: Organization have complex inter-relationship of networks, with multiple overlaps for a single function. For instance, an IT support function might work well in delivering a service while working in dedicated and isolation mode, but in shared and complex environment with multiple overlaps, networks, and stakeholder, the same dedicated resources may largely under-perform and underachieve, resulting into additional work. The report calls this Hyper-connectedness, and argues that it will lead to a push for more work to occur in both formal and informal relationships across enterprise boundaries, and that has implications for how people work and how IT supports or augments that work.
  10. My Place: There will be job roles which are always on-duty. For them, the traditional segregation of personal, professional, social and family matters, along with organization subjects, will disappear. They will work in virtual Work Swarm environment, all the time, across time zones and organizations, and with participants who barely know each other. But the employee will still have a "place" where they work, called "My Place".
  • See also:
  • Go here for the report on Gartner website (User login required)
  • Go here for details on the upcoming summit in Spetember '10 in London where Tom Austin will be presenting these trends.

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