Jeff Schwartz is the U.S. Leader for the Future of Work at Deloitte and author of the new book Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work.
Jeff is also the global editor of the Deloitte “Global Human Capital Trends” report series, which he started in 2011.
You can watch the video of our full conversation below or just listen to the audio version as a podcast. If you want more content like this you can subscribe to my Youtube channel.
Business leaders are always looking ahead to see what is coming in the future of work. The trends that we have seen coming in the next 5-10 years have been accelerated due to the pandemic in 2020. Things that we thought would happen in 5-10 years have happened in weeks and months.
When it comes to the future of work Jeff believes that we are in the end of the beginning, and we are beginning the next chapter. We now have the technologies in place, in this new chapter we are going to see the implementation and scaling of these technologies and the new ways of working.
“One of the one of my favorite quotes is a quote from Albert Einstein who said that you can’t use an old map to explore a new world. And I think that’s part of what we learned in 2020…But a lot of people are using old maps for new problems. And this is a big shift we’re going through now.”
Jeff believes that Covid-19 may be an event that changes work forever. One of the things we are challenged with in 2021 is to figure out if we now return to what we did before, or if we use the events of 2020 as an on ramp to something new. Jeff’s view is that we will use it as an on ramp to something new.
What does the future of work actually mean
We hear the phrase “the future of work” so often these days. It is at the forefront of so many discussion. But what does it actually mean? Jeff said it can mean a lot of different things, but for him there are three main things that make up the future of work: how work is changing, how workforces are changing, how workplaces are changing.
Jeff says, “I think we spent the last 20 years setting the table for the future of work discussion. Identifying what the work, workforce, workplace options are, what the implications are for communities, regulation, education. 2020 was a bit of a fast forward button or a forced experiment button. And as I was mentioning earlier, you know, I think we are at the end of the beginning of the future of work. And we are at the beginning of the next chapter, which is taking these changes to work, workforces, and workplaces, and just implementing them at scale. Not on the side, but in the heart of what we’re doing.”
Top trends in 2021
Jeff and his team at Deloitte have been releasing trend reports since 2011 and they recently released their report for 2021. Some of the top trends they focused on were:
- The integration of wellbeing into work, not as a set of side benefits, but in a deliberate way that is integrated into work
- Super teams, which is how we put AI and robots on the team in a way that supports people and allows them to do more human work such as deep care, deep teaching, deep design, etc…
- Beyond re-skilling and looking at developing enduring human capabilities, giving workers what they need so they can shift and work up to their potential even when they have to do something outside of what they were hired to do
- The real challenges around workforce governance, we found out in 2020 we don’t have the data and information needed
- The elevation of the HR role in the first few months of the pandemic and looking at how HR can lead into this reimagination and re-architecture of the work era.
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What Jeff worries about for the future
When it comes to the future of work Jeff is mostly optimistic and he doesn’t have many fears. But he does have a specific worry about the future.
As he shares, “My concern is that we aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities that we have in front of us, as both businesses and as communities in society. We’re at a very interesting point, where we have the opportunity to do some pretty amazing things in terms of the way we live our lives, we organize our work, the way we organize education, the way we organize our businesses. And I worry that we’re not really as focused on the opportunity as we can.”
He is concerned that some of us are not prepared for the unpredictable part of life. As the world changes some of the institutions we have–such as schools, communities, and businesses–will have to be able to stretch and flex to be more relevant.
We have to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that we have in front of us. With the innovation and technology we have today we have the opportunity to do some pretty amazing things in the way we live, work, learn, and organize.
What do business leaders need to do to take advantage of the future of work
When it comes to taking advantage of things coming in the future of work Jeff has some advice for business leaders. They are:
- Leaders need to recognize that the role of business leaders is to deliver value, not just cost savings. Big changes in the economy comes not just from cost savings and productivity, but from innovation, new value, and creating new sources of meaning.
- Leaders must wrap their minds around the idea that they are leading workforce ecosystems today, not just individual employees. It is not the same as 30 years ago where you just focus on who to attract, develop, and retain. It’s now about accessing, curating, and engaging. You can access talent in the form of a human or a machine. You can look inside of your organization or by using talent marketplaces. You really have to look at all of the ways you can access and curate talent.
- Leaders must think of themselves as co-creators. We have to move from a supervisor mentality to a player-coach mentality.
Jeff’s advice for individual leaders looking to navigate this new world of work
Individuals have a lot of responsibility in preparing themselves for the future of work. But we are highly adaptable and there’s a lot we can do. Jeff’s advice for individuals is:
- Adopt the growth mindset, don’t have a fixed mindset. Growth mindset is the belief that you can improve your abilities through hard work, exploration, curiosity, and learning. Your capabilities are not stagnant, you can do something to better yourself.
- Understand the importance of being a team player. There is nothing wrong with individual work, but in this new world of work individuals must be able to work well with a team, no matter what their role on that team is. We have to understand the different roles of teams, what a high performing team is, and understand that you may play different roles in different teams that you are on–whether you are a participant or a facilitator, an expert, or even the leader of the team
- Embrace the 100-year life span and the 50-60 year career. As we live longer lives we have to recognize that our careers no longer mean working for one company in one department. You will have multiple reinventions in your career, so it is important to recognize that and prepare for it.
“If you think that your journey is going over one mountain, and you find out that the journey is going over six mountains, it really helps to know that it’s a six mountain journey versus a one mountain journey, right? You’re mentally prepared, you’re physically prepared. And you know, we’re telling people, it’s a one mountain journey, you go to school, you pick a career, you go to work for somebody, maybe it’s a two mountain journey, or maybe there’s another mountain behind this one, but if we know that it is a portfolio of reinvention that the journey is much more varied than we thought. We think that will help us to be prepared.”
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