Given at the snail pace our infrastructure is developing and rapid urbanization, by 2018 we will all be spending half our lifetime on roads commuting
We should be preparing for what we did to the western world - train our replacements to take the work back!
The future calls for a need to proactively develop new age skills and those of us who can master the art of differentiating in dealing across age groups and not use a one-size-fit all approach will survive
Oh crystal ball, show me what you got; in the future for me, what do you really see?”
“Beep, beep, honk honk…” and I come back to reality. The traffic piled roads, the incessant honking, the 3 hour drive to home which is just 10kms away…I don’t need a crystal ball to show me what the future holds. I see it with my eyes wide open.
1. Traffic jams coupled with skyrocketing house rents
2. Stronger Rupee and an even stronger and younger workforce
3. Social Networking and the emergence of the power of many!
Wondering what all these PAIRS have in common? My crystal ball gazing results of what the future beholds for us at the workplace.
And not too far away, I have restricted my day dreaming to 7 years from now - September 1st 2018.
Prediction 1: More time extensive traffic jams coupled with exploding real estate costs!
What triggered this prediction was my car ride to office the other day - 3 hours, 10 kms, some numbers just don’t add up! And given at the snail pace our infrastructure is developing and rapid urbanization, by 2018 we will all be spending half our lifetime on roads commuting.
And to avoid having a daily life journal that reads “daily average drive time - 8 hrs or more; daily average rest - no room for this”, one or a combination of the following will happen:
1. Our career choices will be determined by proximity of the workplace to our homes and less by compensation, growth, and supervisor. The scare of the commute will make everything else pale in insignificance. (Can see some of you nod in agreement having exercised this option already)
2. Companies that have smaller offices located in different parts of the city will be better off than the ones with large campuses in limited locations.
3. The big differentiator will be flexible work-from-home options – the ability to do so, the ecosystem and the skill to manage such a workforce. I would love to see our managers who have excelled in transporting work 10,000 miles still demand their teams be under their noses to manage this dynamic!
4. Assuming (and a big one at that) our government gets its act together and manages terrific public transport - distance will not be an issue but time will be. The current Indian stretchable time will change and so will a lot of our working habits!
If you let out a sigh after reading that first prediction, imagine that coupled with soaring real estate and rising blood pressure to go with it.
The rate at which cities are filling up, demand will surely outstrip supply and even 25 kilometres further from the city centre will burn a hole in our household budgets and in the process, one’s mental peace and health! Stress will seep in and before you know it, BP will hit ceilings faster than rental prices.
All of the above will come true, and recent data for cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore are a clear indication of the same. To avoid paying life’s savings for a pigeon hole, I would now quickly buy a flat or a house, maybe another (if I can afford), and retire in rent income☺.
Prediction 2: Younger workforce and Stronger Rupee
I thought I was pretty young to be a manager at 26 and I had to grow a moustache to hide my age. Now a manager at 26 is considered old! The new age managers seem to be getting younger. A time will come when most of us will be reporting to and working with colleagues much younger than us. Many of us will have the agony and ecstasy of children at work and home!
Those of us who will survive will be the ones who can master the art of differentiating in dealing across the age groups and not use a one-size-fits all approach. Now by that I don’t mean we should look at implanting hair and get down to wearing an ear stud to look young (or should we☺)? Life comes a full circle, did someone say!
While the workforce gets younger, economics seems to want to play a game of its own. I am no economist but I can certainly say that the days of labor arbitrage will be on its way out. We should be preparing for what we did to the western world - train our replacements to take the work back! Only this time, you will be training somebody the age of your father as the western world’s age is not getting any younger and the average life span is going up!
I am kidding of course – this is one prediction I am not sure. The fact remains that if the above does not happen, at least it will spell the end of the era of the generalist and usher in the specialist! The armies of freshers’ coding, beware! Half your work will get automated and the rest will get shipped back.
Prediction 3: Social networking and the emergence of power of many
Social networking has already redefined the scope of building a personal brand. People now spend more time investing in how their online avatar is perceived rather than investing in building personal relationships. What is more interesting is how the so called introverts have taken to this medium. They finally have a medium to speak their mind (without literally speaking) and boy, are they utilizing this powerful tool to get their messages across. They perhaps have more active profiles than many networking Gurus! But the flip side to this is the intrusion to one’s personal space. ‘What personal space’ you ask? And why not? Years of 140 characters and constant twittering and status updates on Facebook will leave us with no personal space. For those who don’t adapt and accept, it is not going to be an easy path.
Dealing with the above in itself would not be a challenge. One could just stay away from networking altogether, but that is not going to be a viable option as collaboration at work is going to be the way forward. The term individual contributor will probably be archived from dictionaries and behavioral economics will become the need of the hour. Working with diverse individuals across geographies and cultures will shrink the world further and the ‘my-way-or-highway’ approach will cease to exist.
So whats the big deal you may ask? Well some or all of the predictions will come true.
While that is not the focus here, the point is that our world is shifting at a fast pace and it won’t be a big deal if we prepare proactively by developing new age skills so we are not redundant!
This is not going to be easy - it will require a mindset change. Some of the growth-led benefits we have been accustomed to will disappear; insecurities will seep in as you won’t be judged by how many hours you log in for or the impact you make in-person. You will be judged for your ability to deliver quality, like the young managers - be it from a cruise or even a remote farm house!
So be prepared and give me a chance to say “I told you so☺”. Welcome to the connected world, did I just see one of you “like” this page or “poke” me as you don’t agree? Whatever it is, leave your comments and your own predictions. Thank you for letting me play oracle for 1200 words!
Elango R, is the Chief Human Resources Officer at MphasiS. He blogs on www.agastyaelango.wordpress.com and follow him on twitter@agastyasays