Most important work skills (and their drivers) in 2020

The Institute for the Future just published a (UPhoenix-sponsored) report on the future of work. Not much of this is surprising. I’m glad to see virtual collaboration as an important skill. Anyone who works remotely knows this.

I consider myself a hybrid worker – some at home, some on campus. If I’m honest, I prefer the virtual work and find it far more efficient than spending an arbitrary, i.e., 9-5, day in an office. Between all the chit-chat, cakes – dear god why so much cake? – and endless meetings, the traditional office is not a model of productivity. Despite visions of sleeping in and working in yoga pants that office-shackled professionals have of remote workers, we work as hard or harder than your cubicle mate.

There’s a saying about working from home: It’s easy to work from home; it’s not easy not to work from home.

But what about collaboration, you ask? What about the little serendipitous meetings on campus where you run into a colleague and you two finally solve all the organization’s problems? Maybe Yahoo had a good idea when Marissa Mayer touted the need to be “one Yahoo!…that starts with being physically together.” Oh, wait.

The truth is that organizations who employ (the company that runs this blog platform, for one) large, distributed workforces are successful because they measure achievement, not cube time. A similar ethos exists in forward-thinking universities who count competencies, not classroom seat time.

Now IBM is calling its remote workers back to the office. I can’t think of a bigger hit to employee morale. Not only is this ironic – IBM sells and supports cloud services – IBM’s new CEO seems to have learned nothing from Mayer’s failed strategy. Asking a talented remote professional to move closer to or commute to an office, with all the stress and costs that come with that will send the best employees on their way to a better, flexible, dynamic and more successful organization.

Important Work Skills for 2020

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