Ever noticed how the words future and uncertainty have ‘U’ in common?
Technology and its extraordinary impact on our careers and work patterns has shrouded a collective sense of uncertainty on the future of our work. Not only is it dynamic, but the rate of exponential change is creating more questions than solutions.
Yet, according to this study by Pew Research Center, not enough people even consider their professions at risk!
At two Future of Work events that I recently attended, the panelists were at a loss of words when I posed a simple question- “Is the future of work different for women?” It was an ‘aha’ moment- a call to start that conversation! Interacting with women entrepreneurs, professionals and working moms as part of my work, also put me in the fortuitous position of understanding their perspectives.
What can future forward women do?
With the right ingredients but no recipe, a tasteful dish is eventually possible. Similarly, for career uncertainty, its best to assemble a core arsenal and iterate until you reach a measure of success.
Recognize that developing empathy, technological savviness and a learners mindset are strong ways to get ahead. No matter what your business or occupation, consider adopting this focused and doable 5 step action plan to fashion your approach to work.
1. Adaptability wins
We need to apply a flexible mindset to our careers.
Interacting with working women, I often witness how difficult it is to unlearn and relearn- give up a much beloved tool (say spreadsheets) and work instead on shareable cloud programs.
As circumstances and environments change, individuals who are agile and adaptable in their thought process and learn to acclimate, will thrive. It could simply mean embracing new systems for efficiency or taking the chance to act in a different role for the sake of personal growth.
2. Pull forth the creative in you
Work environments now demand speed in decision making, leveraging new ideas and problem solving aka creative thinking. When technology is infiltrating so many aspects of work, creativity is rapidly moving up the business agenda, with nearly three quarters (72%) of workers believing their future success depends upon it.
Foster your creative side with small changes. Exercise your right to disconnect from technology for some occasional solitude and boredom to allow your mind time for reflection. Reading, learning and embracing new perspectives and ideas are other great ways to fire up your creativity.
3. Put Skills first
70% of hiring professionals agree that If a candidate has the right skills for an open position, it doesn’t matter what type or format of education was used to get them.
Dave Fineman of Deloitte, speaking at the Work2027 roundtable said, “The average skill takes 3.5 – 4 years to acquire good proficiency. Think of 10 years as 2.5 skills.” So, identify the skills you want to be proficient in and be proactive in acquiring and updating them.
Developing cross-functional skills that involve not just proficiency in your tool, but soft transferable skills like professional judgement, and interaction with people are difficult for machines to replace.
4. Befriend tech
Embracing technology, as an adopter and user, will be the most critical career survival skill in the coming decade! The right level of technical competency is now a prerequisite to building your careers.
With a high possibility of an optimistic future where people are enabled rather than replaced by technology, where automation augments work and not replaces, humans and machines will be called to work side and side and that’ll prove to be an ace in the pocket of a tech savvy individual.
What this entails could be as simple as befriending social media and being in the loop on conversations about emerging tech in your chosen field and taking it from there.
5. Think collaborations
With experience running a women’s career community, I regularly witness women sharing resources, recommending, collaborating and peer mentoring, both online and offline. Engaging with your community, active networking & seeking mentors is a great way to build your skills and a consistent brand presence over time.
The role of employers as enablers!
While a lot of companies and individuals are actively reimagining what the future of work holds, we are yet to acknowledge that not all genders are created equal in this journey. Women are still playing catch up across professions, struggling to grow their resumes and lagging behind in digital skill development.
They are primarily the ones with child care and housework responsibilities, doing 2.6 times the amount of unpaid care and domestic work that men do, giving them less time to work on their careers. Even in the gig economy, female freelancers (as an example) are paid way less than men for the same creative jobs.
In times when women are still lobbying for equal pay and rights, the future of work for women needs an active, customized conversation, keeping their unique circumstances in mind. Conversations that bring maternity leave, family leave, gender inequality, harassment, inclusion and flexible work policies simultaneously to the table.
Women need to reach a critical mass representation across industries for our voices to carry weight. We need to participate in tech, mentor, collaborate and demand more.
In this era of virtual, augmented and mixed reality, an everyday Jane has the power to architect her own reality. With a plan and a system, we can all face the future with conviction.
Creativity is an immeasurable abyss. The more you create, the more you can draw from.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.
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