Date posted: 16/03/2018

How to embrace the future of work

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From humanoid bots such as Data in Star Trek to a beeping R2D2 in Star Wars, as long as sci-fi stories have existed we've dreamed up ways robots will integrate into our lives, and whether or not their future existence is something to be feared or celebrated.

Today, it's a pressing concern that robots will replace humans in the workforce. Our recent Future of Work report1 reveals that "73% of jobs are likely to be substantially impacted by automation and artificial intelligence by 2035".

This then begs the question: what will the future of work look like?

We look to the insights of Futurist Chris Riddell to explain what employers and industry leaders, or any professional of the future for that matter, will need to do to prepare as technology and required skill sets evolve.

Will we be safe from the 'tech takeover'?

It is a common belief that as technology continues to progress, machines will replace humans in the roles they currently hold. Chris says that while those with repetitive jobs that are not people-facing should be concerned about automation, most professions will be aided by machines, not replaced.

"Technology will not replace us, it is here to augment with us and help us to create experiences," says Chris.

"If you're in the business of dealing with other people, other human beings, you're front of the business, and you have a responsibility that engages with other humans, then you are in a great, great position."

Despite this supposed threat, many people seem to be in high spirits when thinking about the future, also according to our Future of Work report1. 72 per cent of respondents said that they were feeling positive about the future and were excited about its prospects.

What's driving our future?

Chris explains that the invention of accounting software like Xero was initially predicted to summon the end of the roles of bookkeeper and accountant. However, this has been revealed in time to have not been the case, as Chris characterises technologies such as these as simply tools to "help drive deeper insights into businesses in real time on how they're performing."

"All the technology that we use to help us drive that insight simply makes that faster, and it makes it a better experience," Chris says.

The Future of Work report reveals the biggest drivers of change are digital disruption and changing consumer demands. It is important for graduates to keep this in mind as they commence on their career path.

Chris encourages accountants and business advisors to be tech-savvy and embrace technological change. "Be a technology advisor," Chris says. "People are confused by technology, they don't know what the best thing is, so accounting business advisors have to become the new technology advisor."

How can we embrace the future?

Adapting to the changing atmosphere of the workforce is the way forward. It can be helpful to think about what you want to achieve during your working life as a whole, rather than just focusing on specific roles, or even industries you would like to work in, so you will be open to a wider range of opportunities as the workforce changes.

"We need to redesign what it is to have a career. Your job changes repeatedly, you may have multiple careers now during the course of what was your traditional career lifetime," Chris advises.

"You've got to get yourself into a space where you're going to help to design a world which supports your career changing multiple times over a period of a few decades."

The outlook of where in the world the best opportunities lie is also shifting. Chris recommends those accountants who have a goal of working overseas should look into China as a potential destination.

"China is becoming rapidly the next Silicon Valley in the world that we live in," Chris says.

Developing an awareness of the ongoing changes in the field of finance and accounting, as well as technology and the overall workforce is a great place to start. Keeping up-to-date with the trends that develop means you will be better prepared for the future of work.

"I think the reality is careers are already starting to change," Chris says. "Within the next three to five years, we're going to see even more rapid change around this space."