The ‘People Agenda’ in 2013

January 22nd 2013

2013 feels uncomfortable in the mouth. The cultural baggage of the number 13 may be an influence of course. After all some building owners will deny a number 13 floor by simply going from 12 to 14 in their elevators listings.

So what does 2013 hold for us? What are some of the trends we need to be conscious of?

Macro trends are obvious…

  • The deepening divisions between left and right fundamentalist philosophies in both the religious and political spheres
  • The oozing collapse of the USA as a global force economically, politically and (hopefully) socially
  • The rise of the BRIC countries influence and China in particular
  • The relentless march of Islamic influence into Europe, Northern Africa and SE Asia
  • Recalibration of finance systems to accommodate unsustainable debt
  • The Bulldogs to win the premiership

And so on!

What about the less obvious trends ? One trend, already in play but to become more visible this year will be the nature of work.

Traditional employer/employee relationships are being turned upside down. People will occupy their own ‘You-niverse’ and learn to market themselves where and when required. Being tied to one employer will become anachronistic. Me Inc. will see people become niche specialist or brilliant generalists… and everyone will have to be supremely tech savvy to play.

Social and professional networks are in their infancy still, and once this connectedness becomes better and more innovatively leveraged work and life will become indistinguishable.

The idea of ‘going to work’ will seem odd and weird and incredibly time wasting. Travel time will be productive time (by 2030 ‘cars’ will be self-driving in city networks) to work, meet, interact, learn or to recreate and play. The concepts of work-life balance will be as odd as saying eat-life balance or sleep-life balance. Work will be an integrated, non-time or geographical bound experience of being… not some compartmentalized event.

Automation will dispense with many mundane, mechanistic ‘jobs’. There are robots dispensing food to patients in hospitals already by way of example.

What 2013 will do is accelerate this trend and expose the competency needs to manage your You-niverse or Me Inc. productively and successfully. Consulting, e-Lance, virtual assistants, blogging, niche servicing (particularly in publishing and news), hosting etc. are just the vanguard of this trend. Imagine a virtual CEO or CIO used only when and where needed. Why employ one CFO when a virtual team of on-call expertise globally spread could be far more intelligent and productive? Access to data and content so readily means context can be explored and understood in minutes or days rather than months and years.

Work will be networks of self-employed, self-marketing individual working across industries and geographical domains in ways that will make traditional work seem so 20th century. We will be asking questions like “So people would work 8 or more hours a day, in a building in one town, which they would transport themselves to and from for a fixed salary for years on end? No way!”

This demands a deep analysis by organisations on how they are managing their people agenda. The HR implications are profound. Internal systems to support a virtual workforce will become strategically critical. Compensations models will have to change. Contracting will need to be more sophisticated and flexible. What is thought of as the ‘work-place’ will need innovative thought and adaptability.

All this is dependent on Iran not attacking Israel triggering the end-times and the commencement of Armageddon, the rapture and 1000 years of darkness. We live in hope.

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The ‘People Agenda’ in 2013
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