Here are the top takeaways from the “The Future of Work” discussion organized by Adobe Think Tank. I was interested to hear from the industry thought leaders about how our lives are transforming with the ever-increasing integration of machines at work.

Therefore, I want to share the most important predictions and considerations of a future where people and machines work seamlessly together, redefining our experiences at work and in our everyday lives.

Introduction to the discussion

The main discussion question was “How Are Our Lives Transforming with the Ever-increasing Integration of Machines at Work?” and the overall discussion had a strong focus on Tech. It also explored the different ways on how does economic post-scarcity impact the role of consumer & employee experiences; what does the future of work looks like for APAC and beyond; and how will machines revolutionize industries that rely on human labor, leaving many to rethink their life paths?


What are the disruptive technologies or new businesses that will have the greatest impact on work and workers in APAC region?

In the past, we had to deal with disruptive technologies one at the time or decades apart, and now we are dealing with lots of disruptive technologies all at once. We have got machine learning, AI, VR, AR, biomedical equipment, blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies etc.

While dealing with so many different technologies, they start to change the world and it’s various sectors in the ways we can’t predict, explained Dr. Jordan Nguyen.

Dr. Joseph Sweeney also appointed that the biggest thing is automation, which is a ‘side-effect’ of all of the new disruptive technologies coming out. This constant automation is going to be far deeper than most people can expect.

We will see around 40% change in work and significant disruption in traditional processes, noted Dr. Joseph Sweeney.

Fiona Kerr agreed and pointed out that up to 40% of work jobs will be significantly impacted and changed within 15 years. Some would say, those jobs will disappear. However, we don’t need to worry just yet! People might be scared and worried that their jobs are going to go to automation or AI, but there will also be displacement of jobs.

I really liked an example by Mark Henley how farmers could have robots or drones spraying the crops instead of them spraying the crops and inhaling dangerous pesticides. Yet, this does not mean there will be no work for farmers. The exact same farmers could then monitor and educate the machines which work in the field which could also lead to improved health conditions of the farmers.

What will be the top 3 skills or mindsets that will be needed for the future worker?

It’s not only about complex thinking, it’s about complex thinking and complex feeling, said Shiao-Yin Kuik.

Why? Because most of the times complex thinking people produce a lot of problems but they don’t always know how to relate to them. When talking about skills it is also important to mention that employers are looking into employees learnability and learning agility because the skills and the knowledge are changing all the time, pointed out Harlina Sodhi.

What is also expected from an employee is to be able to build an emotional connection.

In my opinion, emotional connection or EI is and will be the top skill in the future, and this once again comes back to the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others.


To what extent the culture affect the selection of tech and how it’s used?

In countries which have a strong communal feeling, people choose technology by thinking whether or not it will help others and if technology will be mindful of human needs, commented Harlina Sodhi. But it is important to mention that different countries within the APAC region have various ways of selecting technology, whereas some countries might be more individualistic.

Asian countries like China and Singapore are collectivistic countries, therefore, when it comes to choosing between surrounding yourself with other people or robots, people prefer other people. But, if it comes down to tech helping out in a people’s daily life, it will be highly adapted.

What is hard to nail down is how do people use tech? Dr. Joseph Sweeney gave an example that if you let’s say want to reduce inequity. Figure out what the inequity is that you are looking to reduce because there are many different types, and then how to apply tech.


How will our experiences as workers and consumers shift and change in the future? How will people be hired?

How people are hired depends on whether an organization chooses the quality route and uses technology to enable people to do really great jobs, or uses technology to go the quantity route and do the gig-economy within the organization. In short, gig-economy is an environment in which temporary work positions are common and organizations work with many freelance workers.

It is predicted that by 2020, gig-economy will take over half of the population.

What is more, these days most of the organizations are using an approach which allows them to give many tools to a single employee and ask to find more efficient ways to work rather than just assigning a task and asking for a solution. Suddenly people have so many tools to experiment with, which is a fundamental shift in thinking about how people get their job done, stated Dr. Joseph Sweeney. We are experiencing and will experience:

‘Culture of innovation’.

All in all

The future of work is strongly affected by technology. The big question is how do we want to use it and what do we want to enable? I do believe that we have to understand what can be technologized and what should stay as it is. Technology will give us so many options to make things better, but we have to remember not to decouple work from life and technology from humanity.

Let me know what is your opinion about the future of work and where it is headed?

Watch the full discussion here

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