The Future of Work – Agility and Adaptability

“To adapt one must be agile;
and one must be agile to adapt.”

In an age of transformation with a fast-evolving landscape, agility and adaptability are often used interchangeably, and are essential “skills” that everyone should possess to stay afloat in the workplace. With the emergence of new industries, a workforce with these two fundamental prerequisites will be in high demand. We can anticipate that the future work environment will be radically different; as it is already quite different pre-and-post pandemic. The deeper question that arises then is, “What will the future of work look like? How can the workforce chart a career path that they know nothing about?”

Jason Furman, a Harvard Professor and former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, in a recent tweet made this comment: “Work has a future that no one knows what it is.”

It seems therefore, the notion of career changes ahead for both individuals and organizations are no longer about skills durability and career longevity. Rather, both employees and companies must be prepared to embrace work that is redefined in unconventional ways. As such, it also means there will be new challenges and changing expectations. Past successes may no longer be an indicator of the future success. The focus is to be future-ready in acquiring new skillsets needed for the new roles that will emerge with changing landscapes in the future economy.

In the 2021 Skills Report released by Skills Future Singapore, creative thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, transdisciplinary thinking, and sense-making under the Thinking Critically cluster, form the skills framework in identifying changes, and adapt responses to produce desired outcomes. Having these skills lead to a growth mindset in seeking for continuous personal development, and progression in opportunities and experiences. This mindset shift can lead to the overall shift towards organizational agility.

To be ready for the future of work, organizations need to prepare themselves and level up their employee skills to enable adaptability and agility. This means identifying the skill gaps needed to move into the future, by highlighting learning programs beyond technical skills, but upskilling in core competencies like, communication, creativity and adaptability. Employees need to develop proficiency/competency to excel in their roles that will increase productivity, and leading to better performance. A better equipped workforce will be more motivated and confident in adaptation to new changes and challenges. Organizations will then create a more sustainable strategy in having higher employee retention. A forward-thinking organization values employees’ development in training them to be agile and adaptable for the future. It elevates their employer branding in drawing top talents.

Besides adapting to new roles, and new skillsets, adopting rethinking processes promotes organizational agility that supports the dynamic changes and rapid response required for the ever competitive and demanding work environment.

Being agile, and adaptable are also keys that unlock innovative ideas for potential business opportunities. Every organization wants innovative ideas, and be able to implement them faster than their competitors to create the competitive advantage. There is simply no space for rigidity, and complacency in leaning on past successes. It calls for flexibility, learning from past successes, so as to better adapt for future achievements. While we are unable to foresee how the future of work will look like, we can make plans to be future ready through continuous upskilling and reskilling, so that we become more resilient, as well as adaptive to anticipate the challenges.



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