As Atlassian’s work futurist and head of research and development, Dom knows a thing or two about where the world of work is heading. He’s spent the last decade studying how teams work and the way workplaces are evolving to changes in technology and culture.
According to him, we’re in for some serious shifts over the next few years. And how companies and professionals adapt to these changes will determine who wins—and who gets left behind.
Businesses Find Purpose
By 2025, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce. With that influx of young talent comes the belief that businesses should have an increased focus on business for social good, not just profit. In fact, making a difference in the world around them is one of Millennials’ biggest priorities, especially when it comes to career motivation.
“A common trait we’ve seen amongst the Millennials we’ve hired at Atlassian is a desire to have a bigger impact and to find social purpose in their work,” Dom said. “They want to feel a stronger passion for what they do and a greater sense of connection to the value their work brings to the world.” The ability to have a positive impact, he added, is often valued more highly than salaries and bonuses.
Businesses that want to attract and retain top talent in the years ahead will have to find ways to give back, and the smartest organizations are already doing so.
Leadership Will Look Different
Once upon a time, making your way up the ranks to senior management meant paying your dues over the course of a few decades. But as businesses strive to respond to increasing competition and rapid technological advancement, even the largest organizations are beginning to realize that years of experience are just one of the many ways someone can become a great leader.
Dom noted the notion of leadership is moving away from just “tenure” and toward “aptitude.” Great leaders can be found at any and every age.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no role for those with decades of experience.
“In an age of AI, automation, and robotics, there’s definitely still value and positions for Baby Boomers as ‘wisdom’ workers, where they utilize their unique experience, resilience, and logic,” Dom said.
The Workplace Becomes Your Place
Between phone calls, texting, email, and other workplace notification tools, it can feel like you never leave work behind. All this interconnectedness can make it harder to find balance, but according to Dom, there’s a silver lining. Tech is enabling smart businesses to re-examine where and when work happens.
“With remote, distributed, and flexible work becoming more common, the average teammate is being given the autonomy to manage their time and their work,” he said. “Not everyone is their most effective between nine and five, or at a desk.”
In the near future, the companies that come out on top will be those that recognize the benefits of being flexible with time and space.
“At Atlassian, we create an open environment that gives teams a chance to innovate and people to bring their best selves to work every day,” Dom said.
The Pyramid Gets Flattened
Today’s model of top-down leadership is a holdover from the early industrial era, where companies needed armies of manual laborers and only a few “knowledge workers.” But thanks to advances in technology, the old pyramid-shaped org charts may soon be a thing of the past.
“For leaders, the key methodologies of the past focused on control and fear. Control as much as possible, and make sure everyone is a bit afraid of you,” he said. “But modern leadership doesn’t work that way. Forward-thinking companies are beginning to adopt an open work model that frees and empowers workers to be as creative as they want, leverages emerging technologies to share their creations across team, discipline and geographic boundaries and drives incredibly fast growth. The point in hiring a diversity of smart and curious people isn’t to control them, but help them tap into their potential. Give them purpose, autonomy, and space to master their craft.”
According to Dom, this may be one of the biggest challenges organizations will face in the next few years. To prepare for that shift, he stressed that leaders need to become self-aware of their own habits and make an effort to unlearn any old, top-down behaviors. Those who don’t may have a hard time attracting and keeping top performers.
What These Changes Mean for You
For companies, these shifts can seem scary. But for you, these changes carry a ton of upside. Workplaces are getting more flexible and inclusive, org structures are getting flatter and more democratic, and the global nature of today’s businesses means people have more opportunities to make a bigger impact. Stay sharp, keep your head in the game, and, now that you know what’s coming, be extra choosy when looking for your next gig.
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