Future Work Skills

Family Businesses Foundation

Future Work Skills

Within the recent 20 years we have had an opportunity to witness a lot of changes which influenced the way we work, think and behave more than ever before. The outlook on the future is also “promising”. So we need to seriously think about which skillset will be required in the future – this question is relevant both for businesses and individuals. The US Institute for the Future (the IFTF) seems to have found the answers.

The Institute, located in Palo Alto, has joined its forces with the University of Phoenix Research Institute in order to conduct research on future work skills. The research identified 10 skills which will be key in the future job market. Before we present the full list it is worth to take some time and think what shapes our modern times and what will impact our future.

We might have not paid too much attention but the last 20 years (encompassing the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries) have influenced significantly, on the global scale, how we live today.

The PC sales peaked in 2002. Nobody saw that just in five years there will be a new device which powerful enough to take over the tasks of Pcs. We are talking about smartphones of course. However, before an iPhone as the first of all-present smartphones was launched in 2007 there had been more breakthroughs. In 2004 a student’s version of Facebook had been put up. Today it constitutes the main means of communication for billions of people worldwide and the share of Facebookers using its mobile version is still growing. In 2006 the laptops sales figures had overtaken the PC sales.

This may be attributed to major changes in work environment occurring in the two previous decades. Namely, the rise of “creative class” – described by Richard Florida in his classic book. In the 80s in the USA the number of service industry employees become greater that the blue collar workers. A decade later the creative workforce also overtook the working class.

This forces us to think about the future of organisation in a totally different way than we used to do. Work repetitiveness is long gone and it has been substituted for new trends adding value. Those trends are described in the works of Frederick Laloux and labelled as Teal Organisations which serve as the newest evolution of organised activities. After red organisations – based on the primal link (e.g. street gangs), amber (armies and churches) a new type emerged – corporations – orange organisations – focused on reaching targets. Green organisations represent social movements – a leader serves more as a mentor or teacher and hierarchy is more subjective.

Teal is an evolution of green – where people out of their choice engage in some tasks based on their individual skills and they set up their roles. People belong to such organisation because they feel good in it. There are no official posts but rather functions. However, the functions may change as the organisations develop and as the team members want to learn something new. The number of hours is agreed upon individually between internal suppliers and receivers. The only objective is to ensure the business fluid operation.

Will this organisation type dominate? It is a quite probable scenario, although, we cannot exclude that in the meantime some new breakthrough will happen redefining key factors of organisational structures However, if there is no revolution, we may expect that teal organisations will play a major role.

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What will exactly change within the next couple of years? Apart from the aforementioned Institute for the Future another company Kjaer Global, which deals with trend management, also presents their forecasts. In its report there were 8 key trends identified which will have major influence on the world both in the business and social aspects. In fact at the crossing of those forecast. It is worth to pay attention how the futurists’ predictions complement one another. It is no coincidence and we need to take them seriously. In the info graphics we present the eight trends by Kjaer Global and six drivers of the job market change which were researched by the Institute for the Future.

We strongly believe that being rooted in a diverse reality will have the greatest influence on the future. The lightweight nomads, superstructured organisations, novel and adaptive thinking as well as cross-cultural competency are symptoms of the need to accept people worldwide who are different and it does not constitute an obstacle to cooperate or create value together. The cooperation will happen in the virtual reality based on project management and application of a lot of data now supplied by the computational skills, transdisciplinarity and virtual collaboration. Then the cognitive load management and adaptive thinking will enable to draw conclusions of this work.

This is how the workflow might look like in a couple of years in one of teal organisations. So should every business become a teal organisation? For now there is no simple answer. It is rather to be aware of the changes direction and go with their flow. Do not negate the future nor fight it but use it for your advantage. We do not need to convince business people that forecasting trends is important and the ones who do it gain a competitive edge.

Since October 2016 the Fundacja Firmy Rodzinne (Family Businesses Foundation) has been working on a skills of the future project directed at the Polish family businesses. We have invited the family business owners who have the right to use the family Business Tree Brand to participate in a study. It is a telephone questionnaire created by the Foundation and our partner EY. Based on their answers we are creating a report and design a series of six workshops focusing on these skills. The project runs from October 2016 to December 2017.

However, before the survey finishes, we will have published its results in our report. To assess the skills level in their businesses, the entrepreneurs should read the findings themselves. Ask yourselves a few questions:

  • 
Which of the skills your team has already acquired? 
Which of the skills we do not have as they are not relevant to our business, whilst which skills are we about to acquire?
  • What is the learning potential of my employees? We need to bear in mind that every person has their learning pace and there are limits to their capacity – at some point in our lives we do not learn any ore but we are able to apply what we already know.
  • How to educate my successors? Should the generation of my children learn from me or maybe from somebody else?
  • Finally, are my business model and offer adjusted to the aforementioned trends? How can I redesign them so that they are still relevant in the future?

The future will be confusing…

It is what Tim Etchells, the curator of the previous year’s Malta Festival in Poznań and the leader of the legandary theatre group Forced Entertainment, forecasted. His prophecy is supported by the research results of the future (within the next 10-15 years) skills conducted by the Institute for the Future. We are presenting in more details the drivers directing those changes and how to interpret them business-wise so that the future is a little bit less confusing…

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Extreme longevity

The worldwide increase in people’s lifespan changes career and learning models.

Looking at the surrounding media images we might assume that everybody is young, beautiful and virtually immortal. However, the affirmation of youth is not compatible with social trends. It is estimated that 70% of the Americans will have been over 60 years old until 2025. Europe is already facing challenges associated with aging. We might feel some consolation as this trend may promote healthy lifestyles and holistic approach to quality longevity.

In light of this drastic demographic change we are confronted with re-evaluating some areas of life: career, family and/or education. We may conclude with a high degree of certainty that we will be working until the age of 65. So multiplication of professions, skills and jobs as well as lifelong learning (to maintaing flexiblity on the job market) will become indispensable.

Rise of smart machines and systems

Employees doing automatic and repetitive tasks will be swaped by machines.

Our relationship to machines is bound to radically change. It is forecasted that within the next decade new technologies will be more and more present in homes as well as to offices, plants and most importantly into all the places we have not expected to find them. If we though that technological revolution has already started we may now witness it develop as it becomes an indispensable element of manufacturing, education, medicine, military and security and every area of virtual life. As the machines become more dominant we start asking what makes us superior to them. And how can we work with them effectively?

Computational world

The world will become a computational system due to new possibilities of analysis and data processing.

Significant software developments will enable better data collecting as well as its analysis and processing. New trends and tendencies, social changes will become more transparent and forseable than ever before. Now big data is just at its crawling stage but it is becoming more prominent every day. When we decipher the world around us and learn how to see it through data we will be able to steer it in order to get the results we want. We will enter the “reality programming era”.

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No matter if we think about business management or personal health, we may need to interact with data more frequently every day. It will no longer be a problem to read corelations among them nor make informed decisions owing to data.

New media ecology

New means of communication demand media skills far beyond normal language.

Multimedia technologies take over the Internet space and visual messages brutally substitute texts. Virtual reality, videos production, animation, computer games – these constitute new means of communication which will revolutionise the future creating new media ecology.


New media will enable us to perceive the world from different angles at once; we will be able to record an event from countless perspectives creating a compound picture of many stories within one storyline. Milions of users post videos on Youtube every day or watch photos on Instagram in virtual reality and the boarder between reality and virtual world is blurred. It impacts the culture and changes it unrecognisably.



The world of the future as well as its projections will require new mindfulness and cognitive skills. Let’s be prapared for these multiplitude of meanings, perspectives and narratives and at the same time watchful and critical of what is being presented to us as we never know how what we see today will look tomorrow.

Superstructured organisations

Social media promote new ways of value creation.

Due to superstructures we have new forms of organisations beyond the patterns well-known to us. It requires a degree of cooperation unimaginable today. The future will require new social communication devices ranging from micro to macro sizes. Us dealing well or not with the future decades depends on how well we master those devices and jump in between their different levels.


Many organisations today, including education institutions and corporations, are just products of multicentury research, knowledge and technology. But the borders between those traditional and bottom-up structures begin to blurr. Open education platforms share their content on a massive scale. Patients share their experience on web forums thus helping other people battling similar health probelms. Solutions inspired by computer games are being introduced to the world of business enabling users worldwide in an instant to test and comment these solutions instead of conducting time-consuming research.

Organisational structures of new generations will not be drawn from traditional management models. They will be based on computer games, neurology and psychology of happiness, so there is no time to waste. This news will make game-fans happy who can now guiltfree sit in front of computers in order to selfstudy and conquer the future.

Globally connected world

Increased world connectivity puts diversity and adaptability in the organisational centre of different activities.

Throughout the years we thought that IT support outsourcing to a developing country will enable the headquarters (in a developed one) to safely maintain laboratories and research centres in their home country. However, the growing markets make it more and more difficult for the “centre of operations” to keep up with the changes affecting so many different customers.

Their presence in the areas of immature competition is crucial but not sufficient. Not only employing people from these regions is essential but also integrating them with the whole global infrastructure development of an organisation. Only this approach can guarantee competitiveness.

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