An Interview by Gemma Martí, published in “La Vanguardia”.
Is the pandemic transforming the way of working?
Yes-Indeed; it has forced us to increase telework, virtual work, but this will not always be the case. Soon, I foresee a hybrid type of job, with greater flexibility: some days we will work at home and others in the office. Let´s not forget that we are “social animals” and we need people around us. Nonetheless, the core definition of work will definitely change.
What do you mean?
Well, today we understand that by working a person carries out a task and receives remuneration in return. In the future we are going to measure work by the “positive value that people will bring to society”. I speculate about a new metric in the future, after all I am a Quixote !
You´re a bit optimistic … No???
Yes, I am, and I bet on concepts like leadership, work, and education by values. We are moving towards a new economy in which only two thirds of the people of working age will work, and about a third of the workforce will not work. Rather they will collaborate on a voluntary basis or work on meaningful projects with NGOs, with foundations, and others. They will receive minimum income from government or other parties, but their prime motivation is adding value.
Is that viable?
Yes, because in a new visionary society , companies will be truly responsible and will get involved and collaborate with society necessities dealing with all kinds of noble causes. This will benefit everyone: companies – which will be more adaptable to the latest technology – and workers, who will be more engaged.
My dream is to hold a summit, like Davos in Barcelona, but focused on the “future of work “
Is the new economy only technological?
The technology allows us to free ourselves from manual work; the hardest work will be delegated to robots. Mind you, If technology is in good hands, it can make life easier and more enjoyable, and allow us more time for other meaningful activities. But if it falls into bad hands (evil lords) it can become catastrophic to humanity
Isn´t it true that companies fear change?
Yes, indeed, it is true. But companies have no choice as they must evolve; they must wake up and “smell the coffee”; Even if today they are good, they must advance and transform so that they remain good tomorrow. Being successful today, does not guarantee being successful tomorrow. So, companies must risk and transform continuously. I compare a company to a couple, two people with different needs, talents and aspirations. It is important that both are aligned, are in tune, and move in the same direction to meet their shared goals and need. The same need to occur in companies.
As president of the Global Future of Work Foundation, how do you see the future?
Well, we are moving towards a portfolio type of work, where people will not work full time for the same company/employer. Rather, they will prefer to distribute their time and effort between different companies if there is no conflict or breach of competence. Also, people will be involved at different levels of work: Physical, Virtual or both. The essence of my vision is the concept of portfolio and multiple type of physical and hybrid work”.
How does it benefit the worker?
Diversification allows to minimize risks of losing everything, and offers more security and peace of mind to the worker; as the old say: you don´t have to place all the eggs in the same basket. But, for me, the secret is that people go to work happy because diversity increases the probability of doing some meaningful work.
Yes, a person who is happy to work is more motivated, more productive, has more ideas, more initiative and everything progresses more and better. But for everyone to work happily, employers need to try reengineering the corporate culture, placing inspired leaders and all in all improve the quality of life of their employees. This will make them happier and more productive. And consequently, the word spreads and this kind of corporations will attract talent.
What must a company offer to attract talent?
Talent must not only be only attracted; it must also be maintained and retained. And the talented person must be motivated, wanting to play and win with the team. Talent is attracted to be with other talents and most important they seek meaningful projects to work on. Perhaps in the future we will employ the concept of a “cluster of talents” hence collectively it is mutually reinforcing.
What drives talent?
Motivation, more than money, and the presence of other talents and meaningful jobs. An interesting, attractive project, for example, in addition to a good work environment and the existence of other talents. The winning formula is to have the feeling that you are not just going to work, but rather have fun and learn and develop endlessly. If you don´t feel like that, the first chance that you get, you will escape. In other words: a company must develop a culture where the talented employee will say, “Thank God it’s Monday!”
What skills will the jobs of tomorrow require?
In 2019 I prepared a study in collaboration with Valkiria Institute for the Future and the talent commission of @22 network for the consortium of “Barcelona Digital Talent” to find out the necessary skills for the new digital positions in the new economic landscape. We noticed with surprise that the most valued skills by digital companies were soft skills. Digital technique, know how of technology and programming is important, but what counts the most is what has not been taught in universities until now, such as knowing how to work in a team, learning to permanently “de learn and relearn” throughout life in order to continue add value …
One of the concerns of the Barcelona City Council and entities such as the “Fira de Barcelona” is how to reactivate the city’s economy. What would you advise them?
Skilled workers, and especially talent, look for cities that provide political stability, security, and continuity. Barcelona is a hyper-creative city in many areas: gastronomic, architectural, sports, etc. It has an entrepreneurial ecosystem – located in 22 @ – and it also has the sea and an amazing climate… People are attracted to living in a pleasant environment, but provided they are offered what I was saying: stability, security, and continuity, all in addition to have a guaranteed cluster of talents and meaningful projects.
And what should the city do?
Barcelona must minimize the factors thatdo not attract companies or talent and maximize all that is good, positive – which is a lot – and project image of futuristic concerns like making a more ecological city – with gardens or orchards on the terraces or on the rooftops, for example–, and showcase breakthrough technology. It is doable. My dream is to hold a Davos-style summit in Barcelona to talk about the future of work so that visionary politicians (local, national and international get together with visionary academics and visionary business people to debate and prepare white papers about where are we heading and how to better prepare for it.
SIMON DOLAN is a doctor in HRM & Work Psychology, author of more than 75 books, president of the Global Future of Work Foundation and former professor at ESADE Business School , where he held “The Future of Work chair”. He is the creator of the concept, methodology and tools of Coaching by Values and participates in Bizbarcelona in presenting a short speech on: “Towards the talent of the future”, on Monday 21, at 10 am in the Agora Talent (Hall 8 of Fira de Barcelona)