Jacob Morgan: 6 bold predictions on the future of work

As part of his keynote address at this year’s Collabosphere, best-selling business author and collaboration expert Jacob Morgan detailed the tech- and data-driven changes to our workplace (including how cloud technology is killing the traditional reliance on on-premise technology, often tethered to old-fashioned IT, legal or the dreaded “corporate”). He then gazed bravely into his crystal ball and predicted how our jobs – the very definition of “job” – will evolve in the next 5-10 years. Step right up and see the future of work!

1. Work anytime, anywhere, on any device

BYOD is already here, and it’s here to stay. “It’s just going to be a standard; it’s not going to be a discussion or a question,” Morgan said. In the meantime, there are still some BYOD policy issues that businesses need to consider and there may be extreme cases (e.g. Yahoo) in which companies become less flexible in order to get their proverbial house in order. The writing is on the wall, though, and tomorrow’s employees will expect to deploy the most efficient and familiar technology available to them. Morgan cited one major telecommunications company (30,000 employees) planning to have 60-70% of its workforce working from home at least some of the time. As we’ve said repeatedly on this blog, “work” should be what you do, not where you go. Adding to the physical decentralization of business: a tremendous number of future workers will be freelancers, not full-time employees.

2. Empowered employees

Need-to-know mentalities will seem increasingly archaic. “Information is opening up,” Morgan said, while noting that most organizations are still pretty closed off, even if they are playing lip service to collaborative principles.

3. Badges and certifications

Morgan thinks that future employees will have a better avenue for acquiring new skill sets, advertising these skill sets, and transferring skill sets, badges and certifications from one job to the next. This, in essence, will be something like a nuanced, structured hybrid of LinkedIn and Klout. “Scores will transcend platforms and become part of our identity,” Morgan said.

4. Redefined management

It’s time to take your C-suite out of the ivory tower. Morgan predicts that tomorrow’s leaders will be leaders who serve their employees. “”I think we’re going to see a huge shift in roles where the goal of a manager – and the way a manager becomes successful – is to remove obstacles from the paths of employees. And the only way to do that is to understand your employees and talk to your employees,” he said. In addition, Morgan says that future managers will need to get their heads of the technological sand; “but we’ve always done it this way” will become an increasingly fatal mantra as more efficient technology continues to present itself.

Jacob Morgan: not actually an android

5. Robot takeover!!! (not really) (well, kind of)

“This is where it gets kind of creepy,” Morgan said. Smart(er) platforms are on their way. Imagine the radical technological changes in the past ten years, so it’s entirely plausible that we will find our 2023 selves (if not sooner) in the midst of completely connected collaborative environments in which virtual assistants guide our decisions at every turn. Automation will continue to eliminate some jobs, frankly, but Morgan also sees the creation of entirely unanticipated job fields, just as companies once never thought to hire social media managers or collaboration officers.

Some of these new jobs will involve building, training or working alongside robots. The 2045 Initiative aims to keep your brain alive after “death” – essentially eliminating the concept of death – in mass-produced avatars. This may create bigger problems than merely how you navigate your day-to-day employment. As The New York Times dryly observes, “Yes, we have seen this movie and, yes, it always leads to evil robots enslaving humanity.”

“We’re going to see robots in a lot of weird places,” Morgan said with a chuckle.

6. David-companies beating Goliath-companies

“Size might start to become a disadvantage,” Morgan said, referencing Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, which posits that David had the advantage on Goliath from the outset. Continuing disruptions will shake the ground beneath Goliath’s feet. Companies will need to evolve faster and make faster decisions – which aren’t hallmarks of gargantuan corporations.

The full video from Jacob’s keynote is below – or check out our full Collabosphere session page with many other fascinating sessions, featuring leading brands and agencies like CBS, Pinkberry and RAPP.

Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.