Four ways to get your workforce ready for the digital future

- May 17, 2016 2 MIN READ

Emerging technologies such as Xero are impacting traditional industries, creating new job opportunities and changing the skills required by workers as they adapt to the evolving labor market. Their impact is significant; a recent study from Deloitte Access Economics on the future of work found that almost one-third of employees said changes in technology are most likely to drive job change. And in the midst of the “Ideas Boom,” Australia’s workforce is undergoing the most significant disruption since the Industrial Revolution.

What implications does this have for Australia’s businesses and workers? Here are four major ways that technology is changing the way we work.

Hire a millennial or two (and listen to them)

According to a recent study by Upwork, millennials make up more than one-third of the Australian workforce. PwC predicts that by 2020, they will account for half of global workers. This group, comprised of digital natives, naturally keep up-to-date on emerging technology and bring that knowledge into the workplace – a key advantage over prior generations. As this segment grows, they are reinventing what it means to be successful in a technology-driven world, and they’re poised to drive the future of business.

Don’t settle for generalists

We are living in an increasingly specialized society, where the half life of technical skills is continuing to go down. As a result, there is an opportunity to create a different economy – one where skilled professionals take on short-term projects and keep their skills up-to-date by understanding emerging trends and training themselves using massive open online courses (MOOCs), web tutorials and other methods. Not only does this empower workers with in-demand skills, but businesses are also able to quickly access specific skills by tapping into independent professionals who offer their expertise on a freelance basis.

Bring the work to your workers

One of the biggest concerns business owners have is finding skilled workers from a small pool of potential people. If you need to find website developers, graphic designers or someone to build a mobile app, there won’t be much to pick and choose from in the average country town. Thanks to the Internet, this is no longer an issue, as businesses can create a virtual workforce using freelancers from sites such as Upwork which let them tap into top talent online and bring the work to the workers. Instead of struggling to find skills locally, they now have a global pool of more than ten million freelancers offering nearly 3,000 skills.

The government has a new economic narrative that puts technology and innovation at the forefront of the agenda, and further investment in digital infrastructure will help the freelance workforce grow.

The best talent lives outside your four walls

On the flip side, businesses can also benefit from people who are adopting this new way of working anywhere in the world, as it enables them to select talent from a global pool of talent. For example, a small business in Sydney can work with a content marketer in Perth. Location limitations are one of many barriers that have traditionally held entrepreneurs back from starting a business but are no longer relevant. Even in an investment-restricted environment, businesses are able to grow and thrive by creating teams of specialised workers they can leverage as needed.

Technology will only continue to change how we work. Leaders that use it to their advantage will see their businesses thrive, and workers who leverage it will also be set up to have thriving careers.

Rich Pearson is the senior vice president of Marketing and Categories at Upwork

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