The Future of Work Will Be Sustainable or There Won’t Be Any Future.
06 de May de 2021
06 de May de 2021
It was 1962 when the Jetsons first appeared on our screens, showing us a future that seemed so distant. But, was it really that distant? It’s been 59 years since it premiered and, as unlikely as it may seem, our lives have come to look a lot like the Jetsons’. We would have never imagined leaving the office behind in order to work from home or exercising following our instructor through an Instagram Live or even see the doctor through a video call.
The thing is that, much like the boiling water for the frog, many of the technological advances that have come to be part of our reality —and that we take for granted— have actually done so very gradually. That’s the nature of change: incrementalist, progressive and, more often than not, radical. Even when some technologies —such as Google Maps— have been around for a relatively short time, we wouldn’t know how to live without them.
The same is true when it comes to work: digital skills are a must — as crucial as knowing how to send a fax, having a driver’s licence or knowing how to use the Office Pack, back in the days. But, in the future, not everything will be technology. In the work environment of the coming years, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) will set the way. Currently, SDGs are already transforming companies, their processes and their relationships, as well as the way we work.
Juanma Chicote —People Operations Director at Grupo DKV Seguros—, Ruth Hernandez —Operations and People Management Transformation Director at Acciona— and Jaime Sol —Director Partner of the People Advisory Services area at EY— gave us some of the keys to delve into the future of the labour market and how it’s linked to the sustainability goals. This took place during the roundtable “Sustainability and SDG — The Keys for the Work of the Future”, organised here at EAE.
In an environment in which changes are sped up by the arrival of automation and AI processes, the use of technology has become an essential skill in companies. But, is it the only thing that matters?
How does the technology reign balance with sustainability goals?
Juanma Chicote thinks that both factors must coexist and be the main goal of any organisation. At DKV Seguros, data management knowledge and agile methodologies are part of the company’s DNA. They use OKR oriented processes (Objectives and Key Results) but, at the same time, they set SDG goals that focus on sustainable development and the environment.
Ruth Hernández says that, even if they’ve been working for 20 years in the creation of sustainable infrastructures, the pandemic has revealed the need to speed it up. This is due to the speed at which changes at a global level are taking place. That’s why they focus on two aspects of this acceleration: on the one hand, making sure projects are managed digitally and innovatively; and, on the other hand, that they are sustainable.
As for EY, they say that the company’s main goal is to build a better professional world. Technology plays an essential role, but it’s not enough. Technological knowledge and skills must be complemented with a humanist training that puts the focus on people and that contributes to their sustainability. That’s why they’ve spent years analysing which goals and metrics must be fulfilled in order for companies to create long-term net value or, in other words, to create more than is destroyed.
If technology is bringing about radical changes for talent management in companies, climate change and SDGs are creating a new “sustainable employability”. Currently, companies don’t just have to create jobs, but, most importantly, they must offer a purpose if they want to attract and keep talent. In this context, the value that each of us can bring for the achievement of such goals becomes a fundamental element. And for this, the profiles that are sought are increasingly polifacetic instead of mere specialists — men and women of the Renaissance: versatile, flexible and with a constant capacity for learning and adaptation.
That’s why Juanma Chicote says that companies and organisations that have a purpose already have an element to attract talent. In turn, SDG orientation improves such important matters as diversity inside organisations. “In the near future, emotional management will be particularly important. Something that we must get back, especially since home working has become such a big phenomenon”, he claims. How will we reach such a goal? Through a very humanist leadership —one that combines technology with the human factor— and by getting back the social aspect of the day to day that we’ve lost during the last year.
Along the same lines, from Acciona, they agree that people must be the focus of organisations — carrying out specific actions, such as establishing collaborative leadership models, creating respectful and diverse environments, recognising excellence and effort and fostering intelligent and safe working environments. Among the company’s most prominent programmes, we find various projects directed to reaching the 50/50 goal in traditionally male working environments or retributions linked to SDGs.
Finally, at EY, they point out that the importance of intangibles (people) in companies is rising with each passing day and, thus, it’s crucial to link retribution policies to the company’s SDG.
A good example of this is the change in which, besides assessing technical knowledge and other skills, participation of employees in special programmes and volunteering is taken into account. In other words, their contribution to society. To this effect, education and training will be crucial to achieve sustainability in companies, having professionals that, through reskilling and upskilling, will keep up with the technological advances.
Versatility, learning, adaptability, digitalisation and emotional leadership are the terms that will shape the future of the professional world, according to Juanma Chicote. However, they won’t be the only ones. Companies will need more empathic and close leaders that know how to manage the generational differences and the more diverse work environments.
As for Ruth Hernández, she points out that, in the nearest future, people will be more and more responsible for themselves —through education and training and by showing curiosity— and that one of the most important aspects will be digital disconnection — the need for limits. Finally, Acciona’s manager sees a future in which we stop talking about diversity because it will be already a part of every company and every person.
Lastly, Jaime Sol notes that the massive AI implementation around the year 2035 will radically change corporate structures and that the future will be shaped around the concept of flexibility in every aspect — from the where to the when all the way to the very meaning of the word “work”. Something that, after Covid-19, doesn’t sound that crazy.
But let’s not forget about the most important part of the whole thing: companies are a mirror that reflects their employees soul, spirit and personality. People sell people. Thus, the human factor will always have to find a balance between wellbeing and digitalisation. This balance will be responsible for the sustainability of the future. And if it isn’t, then there won’t be any future.