Article: How should the unconventional future ready workplace be built?


How should the unconventional future ready workplace be built?

This article is an excerpt from the author's book Demystifying HR available on Kindle. It is an attempt to explain HR concepts based on authors experience as an HR practitioner across industries like manufacturing, IT and pharma. The approaches, suggested by the author, are industry agnostic and can be readily implemented or customized depending on the context.
How should the unconventional future ready workplace be built?

Visioning the Future (Year 2040)

Adira, aged 35, is a new-age entrepreneur, creative artist who follows an unconventional working pattern where she is free to choose where and how she wants to work. She works from the comfort of her home environment and when needed, reaches out to the local community for sharing workplace either provided by the customer or co-working hubs paid by the hour. Being a fitness freak, she mixes leisure activities into her unconventional working schedule. She leverages her networks of experts to obtain interesting and yet flexible consulting projects.  

Let us understand how Adira blends technology and healthy living together to remain productive and relevant. The AI-based system suggests task list for 2 weeks highlighting priorities and maximizing her performance-based out of her bio-health indicators. The enhanced telepresence helps her connect with multiple stakeholders from the comfort of her home. Adira’s working environment is spread across geographies from home to eco-campus sharing office space on need basis. The collaboration will range from face to face (real-time or virtual) or in collaboration hubs as commuting is no longer necessary. In majority cases, she connects virtually for discussions with clients or other stakeholders. Project member selection is influenced by skillsets and subject matter expertise. The flexi-work contract has no limit to how long or how little Adira can work. 

Insights into Future Work Skills

Most of what has been mentioned above might seem like a science fiction movie. However, it is based on research articles and expert talks on Future of Work. Our article attempts to provide insights into Future Work Skills and provides suggestions for organizations to develop them. 

Future Work Skills” written by Anna Davies, Devin Fidler, and Marina Gorbis and published by the Institute for the Future, University of Phoenix Research Institute in 2011, describes the top 10 capabilities required to succeed in future. For understanding which of these capabilities are likely to impact the most from an Indian scenario, we conducted a survey with select leadership team across Indian organizations, who were asked to rate each parameter on its importance. 

(Sample Size N = 37) 


 The top 4 capabilities identified for future workforce in our survey: 

  1. Virtual collaboration

  2. Cross-cultural competency

  3. Novel & adaptive thinking

  4. Social intelligence 

Our article attempts to deep-dive into each of these 4 capabilities and suggest development interventions for the same.

Devising a Development Journey 

Workforce development will require a paradigm shift in its approach and methodology. As HR professional, there is need to understand the context which will affect devising any learning & development program. 

  1. The world of tomorrow, where we will have humans, bots, and avatars, shall need a different kind of leadership which is able to set direction and reflect upon possible social and emotional consequences of decisions made. The robots and avatars, on the other hand, are doing complex calculations and simulations. The measurement of such a leader is on 3 dimensions – effectiveness (unprecedented goal fulfillment); efficiency (resource optimization doing more with less) and expression (brand, image, and inspiration attract leading knowledge experts across the globe)

  2. Networking in the age of tomorrow will be one of the sources of development. The ability to share and grow your knowledge through your network will determine how “learned” you are.

  3. Work life can extend to 10 years to 50 years depending on how relevant one would continue to be. Often one may need to take sabbaticals to get updated and join a new stream altogether. Hence, physical universities may not exist. Knowledge will be available virtually and there will be Knowledge hubs around which the business will be structured. 

  4. With an excessive focus on data and analytics, coupled with the ability to derive insights from multiple perspectives, universities will offer multi-disciplinary approaches, while mathematics and statistics will be the core.

Given the context on how future capability building will operate, let’s look at how each capability can be developed – 

Skill #1 - Developing virtual collaboration

  1. Creating Virtual working etiquettes and defining enabling & disabling behaviors in virtual team

  2. Positive Reinforcement (performance & potential score) based on collaboration behaviors – scoring by an independent AI tool

  3. Real-time Instant feedback using supervised machine learning tools

  4. Productivity output predictor based on learning curve and competence of the individual

  5. Collaboration with pink collar (man-machine interface) and leveraging bots/smart machines

Skill #2 - Developing cross-cultural competency

  1. Leading a multi-cultural cross-functional teams

  2. Short term (virtual) deputation/assignment (by leveraging technology)

  3. International university campuses co-located in office premises to provide exposures to various cultures

Skill #3 - Developing novel & adaptive thinking

  1. Cross-disciplinary exposures to enhance the ability to think beyond the box 

  2. Design thinking, insighting and ethnography study

  3. Ability to understand and train Self-learning algorithms 

Skill #4 - Developing social intelligence

  1. Appreciative inquiry & reflective conversations

  2. Social cause transformation impacting 3Ps – profit, planet, people

  3. Mindfulness 

However, we realize that mere investment into developing capabilities will not be an entire solution itself. Organizations will have to transform themselves to adapt to new age workforce. 

How organizations will adapt 

The organization structures will undergo radical changes by adopting agile team working dispersed across wide geographies and incorporating digital transformation in their business model. Flexi-contracts supporting gig-economy workforce will come in play dismantling the “fixed office hours” model. More entrepreneurial and unconventional working patterns will emerge for supporting employee mobility and work-life integration. 

Though concerns about privacy and intrusion will rise, tracking user activities and experience without using intrusive technologies will be developed. The workplace environment will get redesigned to enhance collaboration and enhance user experience. 


Though technology will be all-pervasive, the paradox lies in the fact that the value of human relationships and need for authenticity and human values will be regarded in highest worth. The community will be our ecosystem displaying more collaborative and participative mindset in dealing with them. Social ties will be used as driving engine with our reliance on our community and network for survival.


  1. Smart Workplace 2040 – The Rise of the Workplace Consumer (CBRE)
  2. Future Work Skills 2020 - Future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute
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Topics: Technology, Skilling, Life @ Work, #Jobs

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