Three versions of the #futureofwork

Recently, I came across three articles and reports that are describing the future of work:

Going through each of these reports and drawing all necessary conclusions is a big task. But I would like to see if there are any similarities regarding how our future work and workplaces are described.

Let us start with the first to articles above – the ones from Microsoft/Poptech (left-hand side) and Business Insider (right-hand side). To makes things easier, I simply copied their own descriptions into each square below (they of course have all the credits and copyrights):

The Changing World of Work
“The exponential growth of digital connectivity, devices and information is driving profound changes in the way we work, all around the world. In order to survive in this world, companies need to rethink everything from culture to tools and environments.”
  The corporate ladder could become the “corporate lattice.”
“In the past 25 years, one-quarter of companies have reduced the number of layers of management they have, moving toward a flatter, more grid-like management structure.”
The Responsive Organization
“Responsiveness is becoming the key to competitiveness in the ever faster moving and interconnected global economy. To succeed, companies need to shift their focus from efficiency of process to effectiveness of outcomes.”
  Artificial intelligence could replace jobs previously held by humans …
“In May, NPR created a digital tool to calculate how likely it is that certain jobs will be taken over by robots 20 years from now. Manual-labor jobs appear to be most at risk, while jobs that require empathy, like social workers and caretakers, are least at risk.”
Elements of Responsiveness
“In pursuit of adaptivity, companies are decentralizing decision-making and empowering their people with information. This increases engagement and enables continuous learning.”
   … but could also create jobs that didn’t exist before.
“Canton predicts a scenario in which humans and robots work side-by-side in the future, where new jobs could include operating artificial intelligence-based technology and old jobs could be augmented by it.”
Working Like a Network
“As the world becomes more interconnected, value creation is shifting from the individual to the collective. Resilient, high-empathy teams will drive the best business outcomes.”
Employers could start recruiting labor from a global pool of freelancers instead of traditional, full-time employees.
“It’s cheaper for employers, who have an entire world of workers at their fingertips, to hire freelancers as needed rather than full-time employees, as it doesn’t involve a lengthy hiring process or require them to offer benefits like health insurance or social security.”
Leadership in Transition
“The role of the leader is changing, yet it’s more important than ever. To create adaptive organizations, leaders need to actively shape an open culture that fosters collaboration and builds trust.”
Retirement could become a thing of the past.
“People are living longer, and the cost of living keeps going up, requiring many to keep working much later in life. Younger generations also aren’t saving money for retirement the way their parents’ generation did, because they can’t afford it.”
The Social Workplace
“When you can work from anywhere, why go to the office? Human connections and serendipitous encounters matter more than ever. Modern workplace design needs to be intentionally designed to foster collaboration and tacit knowledge exchange.”
Workers may demand more of employers, leading to even more career hopping.
“A “future of work” report from PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that people will continue shifting away from the one life, one career mentality — an already observable trend among millennials. Workers will follow their passions as they change, and for many that also means changing careers.”
A Spectrum of Spaces
“Our future workplaces should inspire people to do their best work, both individually and in teams. They will provide a richer variety of spaces to support the full range of human activities and needs.”
Employees could be monitored, and not just at work.
“The PwC report also envisions a world in which employers can monitor and screen their employees at a much more advanced level: “Sensors check their location, performance and health,” the report states. “The monitoring may even stretch into their private lives in an extension of today’s drug tests.””
Unlocking Creativity
“Automation is changing the nature of our jobs. While many jobs will be eliminated, automation and intelligence will also help us focus our attention on what matters most, create new forms of value, and allow human creativity to flourish.”
More companies could dissolve traditional offices and headquarters.
“Coworking spaces are becoming more and more popular, not just among freelancers and entrepreneurs but also corporations that can use them to relocate employees. Dissolving the traditional office headquarters would enable companies to hire the best candidates all over the world regardless of proximity to a central company hub.”
Driverless cars could make the morning commute faster and easier.
“Both Price and Dr. Canton imagine a world in which driverless vehicles could eliminate mass transit and transportation jobs, but on the positive side, these cars could potentially eliminate daily commuter traffic, not to mention crashes and fender benders.”


Even if their words are different, we see some major things that are supposed to happen:

  • The tools we use, ranging from personal tech, via Internet of Things and self-driving cars, will include much more AI than today. Robots and computers can help us do so much more, but also do our work for us. Depending on the outcome, we might do everything from falling in love with them (as in the wonderful movie HER), or feel less valuable since they take our jobs, or invade our privacy.
  • Work is what you do – not where you are. This has been a mantra in the Digital Workplace area a few years, and all the above confirms that this is happening. Here, the technology can help us be more free than today, since we carry it with us all the time. Already today, many physical meetings can be replaced by Yammer, Skype or the like. This could also have an effect on the environment, since we travel less. And given that the boundaries of ordinary office work disappears, we feel more creative and can perhaps solve problems in new ways.
  • The traditional ways of running companies have soon had its time, it seems. People will get more tired of traditional hierarchies, strict policies, and the long pointless meetings staring at PowerPoint files. Already today, some companies such as Hootsuite and Digital Workplace Group create more virtual teams of experts. There is no point in itself of replicating the ways companies worked in the 1900s.

This leads us to the third outlook on the future: The Future of Jobs by World Economic Forum (see below). Here we see that Creativity is taking a big leap from number 10 to number 3 between 2015 and 2020. Complex Problem Solving is still number one, and might be enhanced by our AI buddies. And given the networked world we seem to be creating, that is where the Emotional Intelligence at place 6 in 2020 might come in: Robots and computers can only do so much the coming years, and we need to build trust to each other even if we don’t meet physically:


If all the above are correct descriptions of what might happen to our work and workplaces, a lot will happen:

  • Companies need to be ready to restructure to allow more creative and free flowing work. Some employees might leave since there are networks of people that allow them to work more freely. And they must take care of the workers whose jobs are replaced by machines.
  • For us as individuals, we need to handle new skills to survive. We need new methods of learning, such as Personal Knowledge Mastery and Working out Loud. If we are unlucky, we are replaced by machines. If we are lucky, we can avoid the mundane and boring things and focus more on the unique skills that make us human.

I will continue to elaborate on these ideas, and the above is only a start in creating the mental landscape of the future of work. This post by no means covers all the things necessary to take on the future. But is is a start.


Create – the fifth C and the humane digital workplace

This is the sixth post on my journey towards working with a humane digital workplace. It started with “Building a humane digital workplace” (listing the 5 Cs) and was followed up with “Connect“, “Communicate“, “Collaborate“ and “Coach“.

The fifth and final C is Create, and the 30.000 feet overview of our intent with Create is that we:

  • Are responsive, adaptive and open to new ideas
  • Dare to do things differently
  • Challenge the traditional ways of working
  • Come up with continuous improvements

Over the years, all companies change and create new ways of working. The idea here, is to being in charge of these changes, instead of only letting the outside world demand them from you. And these new, creative ways of working don’t always need to be revolutionary. For example, upgrading to a very well functioning intranet can make paper forms and administrative tasks a distant memory. Virtual teams distributed in time and space can work together, complementing traditional structures. And by introducing tools such as Yammer, we can replace some of the dark silos created by e-mail.

As a customer oriented company, we also constantly see if there are new ways to innovate. Also here, it is not always about revolutionizing everything at once. Rather, we constantly make sure our processes, tools, and skills evolve. Here, I also come back to the people that inspire me to do more and better:

  • Use Working Out Loud by John Stepper to bring ideas in to the open, and see where they take us.
  • Be inspired by other ways than e-mail to collaborate thanks to Luis Suárez, and others.
  • Use the current methods for communicating internally and externally thanks to experts like Rachel Miller and Gloria Lombardi.
  • Don’t journey alone. Let the Digital Workplace Group (DWG) and their friends guide you in modern ways of working.
  • With a new world comes a new way of learning. Let Harold Jarche and others guide you on this journey.
  • Collaboration is at the center of everything we do, as Oscar Berg and others clearly emphasize.

Now, the next step is to make sure we truly bridge the 5 Cs with the ideas from the digital workplace domain. The goal remains: Creating a humane digital workplace, based on our values and culture.

Coach – the fourth C and the humane digital workplace

This is the fifth post on my journey towards working with a humane digital workplace. It started with “Building a humane digital workplace” (listing the 5 Cs) and was followed up with “Connect“, “Communicate“ and “Collaborate“.

The fourth of the Cs is Coach, and the 30.000 feet overview of our intent with Coach is:

  • Success is embedded in the actions of yourself and those you work with
  • Experience, creativity and contributions of others is appreciated
  • Exchange of best practices

Coaching has become an industry of its own. This is not the focus of this post. Instead, we should explore how we can coach each other on a daily basis in a global company. Most probably, it is a matter of having the right mindset. As an employee and human being, you can always teach someone else something new. But you can always learn something from a fellow human too. So coaching each other should move in both directions: Knowing when to offer it within your expertise area, and knowing when you should be open for receiving coaching.

Much of this will happen via face-to-face discussions and meetings. Here, coaching falls into the informal learning and the 90% that is not formal learning via the 70:20:10 model. For example, see how Michelle Ockers explores 70:20:10. Many companies spend a lot of money in the formal training area, and feeling rather comfortable using these methods. Informal learning, however, is not about diplomas and certificates. It is about finding sound ways to learn and coach each other via our daily work.

There are of course also digital tools that can assist coaching and social learning. For example, I presented more on this at IntraTeam in Copenhagen, via “The 5 Rs of Social Learning applied to an intranet“. It was my first attempt to apply the ideas of Jane Hart on an intranet. Launching an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) can also be promising. It opens up a company globally, and people can easily coach each other in writing, with badges and more.

At Haldex, we have just migrated the content from the old intranet. With the new year comes great opportunities to level up and take the next steps. By applying the ideas of informal learning and Personal Knowledge Mastery, we can support coaching in great ways the coming years. And of course, by applying the ideas of Working Out Loud, it is much easier to coach each other: Be open about what you need, and others can help you.

Collaborate – The third C and the humane digital workplace

This is the fourth post in my journey towards working with a humane digital workplace. It started with “Building a humane digital workplace” (listing the 5 Cs) and followed up with “Connect – the first C and the humane digital workplace“ plus “Communicate – the second C and the humane digital workplace“.

The third of the Cs is Collaborate, and the 30.000 feet overview of our intent with Collaborate is:

  • Focus on the team
  • Engage and work together
  • True team player
  • Appreciate diversity

Here, my first thought immediately went to Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) and the work of Harold Jarche. He mentions collaboration and cooperation in several posts, such as “In networks, cooperation trumps collaboration” (2012), “Extending collaboration toward cooperation” (2013), and “Retrieving cooperation” (2014). Should we, in a professional environment, ignore the collaboration and go for the cooperation instead? I would say no: We all need to start where people often do their daily business, and then incorporate more. It is not either-or.

In the 2012 post above, Harold posts the continuum all organizations live on:


By starting in the structured and goal-oriented corner and collaborating in work teams, we can accomplish a lot. Collaboration is not worse than true cooperation. In fact, as Harold shows in “Cooperation in the networked workplace” (2013), they complement each other:


One goal for us on the journey towards a humane digital workplace, could be moving towards cooperation. With a sound base in Work Teams, we can incorporate more Communities of Practice and Social Networks along the way. We already explore these in our company, but we could engage even more people and use the right tools to do it.

There are also other things I have started relating to Collaborate, when it comes to typical things mentioned in the digital workplace:

  • It must be easy to create and maintain virtual teams, no matter your device. This could be done in tools like Yammer or Slack.
  • We make it mandatory to fill in your expertise and your photo on out intranet, so others can find you easily.
  • We could set KPIs that measure that you have actively contributed via the collaboration channels we provide. Exactly how, I am not sure of yet (or even of we should do it). But we could surface the fact that you engage actively in collaboration also in the social sphere.

Other thinkers that can guide us here are for example (there are of course many more):

We could probably do more in exploring which tools fit Collaboration, Communities of Practice, and Cooperation. The above posts are great. Meanwhile, we get several new tools per year it seems, but now we have a continuum to measure them against.

What I hope to gain from changing jobs

This summer, a big thing happened in my life. After six years at Axis, working with e-learning and then as the global editor for the intranet, I changed jobs. It was not my original idea when getting to know them, but once I knew more about their plans, I made the leap. Starting at the end of July, I now work as a Corporate Communications Manager at Haldex.

Continue reading “What I hope to gain from changing jobs”

Harold Jarche summarizes 10+ years of PKM

Harold Jarche has summarized more than 10 years of thinking about Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM).

More and more, we need to take responsibility for our own learning and development, and Harold has summarized it in the Seek-Sense-Share paradigm. PKM has certainly helped me structure my personal professional learning, and therefore I warmly recommend it.

I have also started relating PKM to designing an intranet, for example via this presentation at the Intranätverk conference in Malmö 2014. It is a start, and in no way finished. But half-baked ideas like this might lead to something productive in the end.

PKM and the social intranets

After taking the highly valuable PKM in 40 days workshop, led by Harold Jarche, I have started thinking about applying these ideas to the use of social intranets. PKM stands for Personal Knowledge Mastery. Basically, it aims to help us take control of our professional development by applying the Seek-Sense-Share framework. The world and its information flow becomes more complex each day, also inside companies. PKM could help make sense of this, instead of adding to the stress.

Meanwhile, the use of social intranet software is becoming the norm. Basically, the vendors say their software helps foster collaboration, innovation, break silos, and more. All this sounds good, but I think the software only takes you 20% of the journey. The 80% of the potential lies in make the end users understand the potential, and then use it. It must fit the culture, and how people are comfortable working.

When we launched a social intranet, the uptake of the social Twitter-like features was slow. Yes, we educated people. Yes, we made it available to everyone. Yes, we paved the way and used it ourselves. But people hesitated. “What should I share with all?”. “Why should I share to all?” were two usual questions. And people felt too busy to post in the social forums. Or potentially awkward (“Why ask openly for something I can search for quickly, or already should know?”). Instead they kept mostly to the blogs and wikis, which are more familiar.

This is where PKM and the social intranets could be a way forward. Some basic ideas I want to explore going forward are:

  • How can an intranet break organizational and work related silos? All intranet software seem to include formal organisation directories, and formal team/project sites. But how can an intranet support more open and spontaneous cooperation, based on themes, interests, and curated content from the users?
  • Which concrete intranet tools should be available to support Seek-Sense-Share? All intranet software seem strong on the last Share part using blogs, feeds, and comments. Tools to support the Search part could be the search function, notifications, RSS web parts, and wikis for personal or mutual content creation. Tools to support Sense could be metadata, tags, discussion forums, and more.
  • When should the employees use which social tool on the intranet? How do we guide users so they feel informed and comfortable in each step? Not all want to share openly, but they might be interested in personal content curation for their own sake.

I hope PKM can be a way to foster cooperation, break silos, and help colleagues with Seek and Sense, and not only Share, which comes last.

Please see this as a start, and please pitch in with your ideas. It is a half-baked idea (thanks Harold for the expression), but hopefully on its way to be more baked.

My Personal Knowledge Mastery tools

More and more is written on the subject Personal Knowledge Mastery  (PKM), such as Harold Jarche‘s site and PKM link collection, and blog posts like this week’s What is Personal Knowledge Management? Harold has also collected a great set of tools others use for their Personal Knowledge Mastery.

Inspired by Sumeet Moghe‘s blog post Here’s how I’m approaching Personal Knowledge Management, I decided to list the tools and processes I use to handle my own Personal Knowledge Mastery. I just started doing this in a structured way, so the tools and processes will change. This is, however, where I stand today:

Step One: Seek

– As for Sumeet Moghe, Google Reader Feedly and Twitter are my foremost collection methods. To make things even easier, I connect my Google Reader account to FeedDemon thanks to its ability to save “Watches”, i.e. saved searches. I prefer to access Twitter via HootSuite, thanks to the great UI. Lots of opportunities to structure feeds via tabs gives me more than enough to look through.

Step Two: Sense

– I skim through all new postings 2-3 times a day, and when I want to save something and tag it so I can find it again, I send the links to Delicious Evernote. When I see some trends emerging, or I sense that two or more areas should be connected, I use Microsoft’s OneNote at work and Dropbox Google Drive privately to save my writings in the cloud.

Step Three: Share 

– My primary ways of sharing, except for structured and casual meetings at work, are my twitter account and this blog. I use WordPress on my site, thanks to its ease-of-use.

It would be interesting to hear more about what tools and processes other use. The more we share about this, the better we can make sense of the constant flow of information that surrounds us.


Does the potential in social intranets lie in Personal Knowledge Management?

Angie Cullen just listed five key features to consider when choosing a social intranet:

  • Forum Collaboration
  • Social Tagging and Ranking
  • Document Storage & Collaboration
  • Expertise Finder
  • Knowledge Base or Wiki

 They all remind me of my own findings when asking my colleagues what they really need from our intranet, even though I focused less on features:

  • Who knows what, and has which experiences?
  • What did we do in project X, who did it, and what did it lead to?
  • What happens in project X, Y and Z now?
  • How can I contact person X to ask a short question?
  • Sorting what I want to listen to.

 It also reminds me of what Oscar Berg noted as some of the six core digital workplace capabilities in people (via CMS Wire):

  • Coordinating
  • Finding people
  • Networking
  • Meeting
  • Communicating
  • Sharing

How, then, should we be able to perform all these tasks? Building what people often refer to as the social intranet might only be one part of the solution: The social intranet is only technology that can enable the above if people know how. To install all features will only take you so far, and could possibly also backlash on people: “What should I do with all this? Why should I see that Stephan has uploaded a document? I have enough on my table and don’t need this noise.”

I believe the solution to much of the above lies in Personal Knowledge Management, here presented by Harold Jarche. It all starts at the opposite end, by teaching people how to separate the wheat from the chaff in the daily information flood. If we look at Jarche’s three steps, Seek-Sense-Share, we have a lot to do in the first two steps before many social intranet features see their true potential. Without filtering, validation, and synthesis from the users, what they share could mean very little to the others and even disturb them. Meanwhile, what we want is increased efficiency and feeling of ease in a world that grows more complex by the minute.

It would be interesting to hear if Seek and Sense making skills emerge from using a social intranet – just by introducing Sharing features. I have the feeling that we might miss some crucial steps, and that people need training in Personal Knowledge Mangement in order for the social intranets to reach their full potential. Start with Seeking and Sensing, and then the Sharing will be a joy for all.