Lynda Gratton

The Future of Work – skills & hybrid work

What is the future of work and how do companies and individuals prepare?

What will our working lives look like 20 years from now? What should we be preparing for? How will we be working? Where will we be working? Who will we be working with?

These are questions I have been addressing for decades.

In 2008, I launched the Future of Work Research Consortium. Since its launch, it has brought together executives from more than 100 companies to explore how work is changing and what we must do differently to thrive in the years ahead.

By 2011, I had written about what I had discovered in The Shift, where I outlined the key trends that are shaping our working lives. Then alongside Andrew J. Scott, in The 100- Year Life, I honed in on one aspect – demography, and then widened my gaze to also look at technology and social changes in The New Long Life. Then in 2020, with the pandemic raging, I wrote and spoke extensively about hybrid work.

I am part of a number of networks that look at the future trends. For example, as co-chair of the World Economic Forum Council on Work, Wages and Job Creation. Read the 2020 WEF report of the future of work.

The Future of Work is an elective at London Business School for the MBA students. In 2020, I broadened the participation by launching a virtual three week programme on ‘The Future of Work’ at London Business School. You can find out more about the online course here.

At HSM we have been supporting companies to prepare for the new hybrid work reality. We worked with the leadership team at a global institutional asset manager to create a global location flexible programme. This gave their people the opportunity to work remotely in any country for up to six months. The programme has provided the organisation with a competitive advantage in both attracting and retaining their people. Read more about this case study here.

Skills

It’s clear that for most working people, a proportion of the working tasks they currently perform will be either completely replaced or augmented by machines.

At the same time, we know that human “soft skills” are becoming increasingly valuable — skills such as empathy, collaboration and creativity – those that machines are generally poor at.

However, there are many obstacles to developing these skills. Skill development requires time, money and incentive. I’ve made the argument that supporting, measuring, and sharing trends about reskilling are crucial steps to embrace right now, for our schools, our homes, and our workplaces.

Selected Articles and Videos

  1. HSM Pandemic Webinar – New Skills for New Realities

    2020

  2. Davos 2020: The Upskilling Agenda

    MIT Sloan Management Review. (2020)

  3. The Challenge of Scaling Soft Skills

    MIT Sloan Management Review. (2018)

Hybrid Work

The pandemic has accelerated many of the trends I have monitored for years. Top of the agenda was flexibility about where and when employees worked, with leaders and teams prepared to experiment with new ways of working.

I have written extensively about hybrid work, showing that the axes of work have pivoted simultaneously in terms of both place and time, in a manner never seen before.

I have addressed some of the issues in a series of articles and webinars, exploring the following key questions:

  • How much flexibility around where and when people do their jobs is best?
  • What strategies are most effective?
  • How can we ensure this new world of work is seen as fair and equitable?

Selected Articles and Videos

  1. How to Do Hybrid Right

    Harvard Business Review, May-June magazine. (2021)

  2. Four Principles to Ensure Hybrid Work Is Productive Work

    MIT Sloan Management Review. (2020)

  3. How to Increase Collaborative Productivity in a Pandemic

    MIT Sloan Management Review. (2020)

  4. HSM Pandemic Webinar Series

    (2020 – 2021)

  5. The Third Wave of Virtual Work

    Harvard Business Review. (2013)

Associations