1. Home
  2. Replay our blog: Future of Work Conference 2016

Replay our blog: Future of Work Conference 2016

How and where will we work in the future? And will we really all be replaced by robots? It’s all on our blog.

The world of work is changing – and fast. A new wave of disruption is impacting traditional jobs, industries and business models. The 2016 Future of Work conference, hosted by the Centre for Workplace Leadership at the University of Melbourne, will look at the shape of things to come.

Follow this blog on 20 and 21 April 2016 for all the latest developments and have your say online using the hashtag #FOW2016.

21 Apr 2016

and that’s a wrap!

FOW2016 is over... so we’re off for a lie down.

Thanks for staying with us and contributing to the conversation on #FOW2016. We’ve had a blast these last two days, and learned lots. Hope you have too.

This blog will remain online so you can revisit your favourite bits and Pursuit will continue to cover developments in business and leadership.

Your FOW2016 blogging team were:

Editor/production: Val McFarlane

Senior journalist: Andrew Trounson

Reporting team: Eleanor Kennedy, Sal Orpin, Heath Pickering, Tathra Street, Cristen Teen, Rod White

Photography and video: Sarah Linklater

the future is our choice

In closing the conference, Professor Peter Gahan, director of the Centre for Workplace Leadership, said that as we face the future of work, we have choices.

“The future is many things. There are good and bad things. There are robots and people. But it is how we manage these different thing that will determine what that future look like,” he said.

“We have choices. I like the idea that what we blame we empower. That is a powerful message that Fred Kofman gave us today.”

But Professor Gahan said that designing the future will take hard work, just as Zeynep Ton had earlier told the conference that developing a “Good Jobs Strategy” isn’t simple and must be long term strategy.

“While it is very important that we recognise our role as designers of that future, it is hard work, it isn’t easy,” he said.

turning anxiety to excitement

Fred Kofman, president Conscious Business Center International warns that we have to stop playing the blame game. “Blame is a free electron looking to bind on someone, but there is no blame, there is just participation. The important point is to ask what are you going to do now,” he said.

When we confront challenges feeling like victims we feel anxious, but when we confront them and focus on what we can do the anxiety turns to excitement. “The butterflies start flying in formation.”

Andrew Trounson

great minds don’t think alike - the verdict

36 hours ... 20 people ...4 teams ...and 4 big ideas.

That was the challenge set to University of Melbourne students in Great Minds Don’t Think Alike, an initiative that culminated in a pitch session this afternoon.

Richard Harmer from Holos Group introduced the session highlighting how intense life has been for the four teams in the last 36 hours: “Yesterday seems like a long time ago.”

Twitter feedback had helped the teams decide on what idea to pitch to the judges - the FOW2016 audience.

The pitches

Team 1 – Leadership: #maverick

Jigsaw: matchmaking leaders

Think Tinder for leadership. This is a networking platform for emerging leaders to connect with experienced leaders. Based on the idea that experience is the only way to learn leadership, this platform would give emerging leaders access to the experience of more senior leaders.

Team 2 – People: #haveaflingwithrisk

Failbook: an application that encourages a culture that celebrates failure, underpinned by the idea that we learn when we fail.

In order to join the platform you have to share a failure. By creating a safe place to fail, Failbook will ensure Australia becomes a success one failure at a time.

Picture: Sarah Linklater

Team 3 – Place: #lifework

Lifework: a solution to tackle the problem of housing affordability – reimagining the Australian dream

Housing affordability or the lack of it means that workers can’t live near work and spend valuable time commuting.

#lifework is a fund that houses people in unused buildings near to their work. This means that people have more time to reinvest in other pursuits. “Let’s bring work home”

Team 4 – Technology: #tsunami surfers

Evolve: a platform that helps people prepare for the future and empowers them to make sensible decisions about future jobs and skills.

Evolve allows users to see what skills they need for their chosen profession and tells them which of these will become automated in the future. It also shows which areas you can then move into so that people can plan skills training for a more secure future.

Dom Price talks to the teams. Picture: Sarah Linklater

Dom Price of Atlassian shared his admiration of the teams, saying that he was glad he wasn’t entering the workforce now as he wouldn’t have got his job. He said he would buy any of the four ideas: “We should be encouraging rapid development like this.”

Voting was via the conference app...and it wasn’t long before the results were in. Team 4, #tsunamisurfers, triumphed with 38% of the 181 votes cast.

Team 2 lived up to their name in more ways than one, coming second with 35%. Team 1 scored 19% and Team 3 10%.

The #tsunamisurfers donated $200 from their winnings to YGap.

Sal Orpin

don’t be a victim

Fred Kofman, president Conscious Business Center International, says that while it is seductive to play the victim, instead we have to take responsibility and when things go wrong ask ourselves what we are going to do about it.

“The alternative to being the victim is what I call being a designer, or a player, because you are in the game,” he said.

Andrew Trounson

blaming external factors ‘dangerous’

Don’t blame external factors for your own mistakes, says Fred Kofman. Picture: Sarah Linklater

It is dangerous to blame external factors for problems rather than asking what we should have done to deal with them, said Fred Kofman, president Conscious Business Centre International, speaking from California.

He said people too often blame traffic for being late when we could have left earlier to make sure we were on time. He warns we blame external factors to save our self-esteem. He said we shouldn’t make ourselves into victims when contemplating the future.

“If we aren’t part of the problem we can’t be part of the solution,” he said. “The price of innocence is powerlessness, the idea that there is nothing we can do.”

Andrew Trounson

finding meaning in work

What is meaningful work? Can work be both meaningful and secure? How do employers tap into this desire for purpose, fulfillment and meaning, and use it to shape the workforce of the future?

These questions were explored, and tackled to some degree, by the speakers in the Meaningful Work session, who shared their personal experiences and reflections on this topic.

Michael Bradley of Marque Lawyers says that while employee satisfaction surveys often put appreciation of one’s work above getting paid well, money and the meaning we assign to our salaries is an important part of the discussion. Because money is a universal language and we need to be paid to live, it is often (mis)conceived as an indicator of an employee’s worth to the company, and of the company’s recognition and appreciation of an employee’s work.

Abena Ofori of Compass, the Melbourne Accelerator Program’s impact entrepreneurship arm, is focused on the pursuit of purpose throughout her career and in her daily work with social enterprises. Having worked in Singapore, Vancouver and now Melbourne, and learning many lessons along the way, Ofori believes that making money and changing the world aren’t mutually exclusive. She says we need to find blended solutions that enable us to live our values and carve our purpose at the same time, in the line of work we’re in.

Simone Carroll of Vicinity Centres finds that increasingly, people do not work for companies – they work for purpose. She presents a more spiritual approach to finding meaningful work that involves finding perspective of where we fit into this world of eight billion people, choosing what we stand for and searching out like-minded people to work with.

Cristen Teen

shared values...different ways

Building a strong organisational culture relies on hiring people who share the values embraced by the organisation, but also giving people the space to live those values in different ways, says Atlassian head of R&D Dom Price.

“We are very clear and conscious of how we hire for cultural fit to make sure we have people who will add value to our organisation and to live our values. They can all live those values in different ways and from different cultures, but they have to be able to live those values,” he said.

“If you have one way of doing things and that must always be the way, I think that is called a cult not a culture, and we know bad things happen in cults.”

Mr Price said what works at Atlassian is having different rituals that appeal to different people. So they have social events just for staff, and separate social events that include staff and their families.

Andrew Trounson

embrace change

Atlassian head of R&D Dom Price said organisations need to build cultures that embrace and generate change because the environment is constantly changing.

“Because of the nature of our business, if we don’t disrupt ourselves we are going to get disrupted by somebody else,” Mr Price said. “The knowledge that people could disrupt you quicker than you can disrupt yourself should be a persistent driver of change.”

Andrew Trounson

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can bridge the gap between research and industry - the subject of a panel discussion this morning - this piece by Dr Michael Fischer from the Centre for Workplace Leadership is a good place to start. His research has uncovered some approaches worth considering.

a winning approach to management - new podcast tomorrow

FOW2016 has just a few hours to go so we’re pausing to look ahead to tomorrow. The conference will be over but the learning can continue.

A new episode of the University of Melbourne’s Up Close podcast, presented by Elisabeth Lopez, will be released around midday tomorrow.

Beyond the caring boss: The powerful management style of Servant Leadership will feature management researcher Prof Robert C. Liden from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He explains the organisational leadership approach of Servant Leadership, in which managers commit to exemplary treatment of employees, who in turn respond with excellent treatment of customers - thus boosting customer loyalty, and raising corporate culture and performance.

Liden argues that the empirical studies he and others are doing into this long-term, people-first management style clearly demonstrate its power to benefit and inspire stakeholders across the spectrum.

The podcast will be available on the Up Close site. Bookmark the site, set a reminder on your phone...just don’t miss out!

Picture: Sarah Linklater

“We live in an overly politically correct environment and that can be frightening... But bad things happen when good people don’t do anything. It’s better to tackle things awkwardly or clumsily than not at all,” says Rowena Allen at a masterclass on Leading Diversity in the Workplace.

no rules apply

A key part of Atlassian’s strategy to promote innovation is “Ship It” in which for a 24-hour period every quarter the whole business separates into teams to come up with new ideas.

“There are no rules,” said Atlassian R&D chief Dom Price, and people can pursue whatever ideas they like.

The teams form organically, and people often join teams in different parts of the business outside their normal team, and at the end of the 24 hours they present what they have come up with and the whole business (1,500 people) votes on it. Sometimes a team is just one person.

“It is a ritual,” he said. “There are no guidelines.”

Andrew Trounson

time to innovate

How Atlassian employees spend their time. Picture: Sarah Linklater

Innovation is about giving people time to innovate, said Atlassian’s Dom Price, and they put aside 20 per cent of their employees’ work time for innovation.

One team may spend one day a week working on a problem that bugs them, or another may tackle a larger problem by spending a week on it out of every five.

“So from month to month the teams are different, they are not getting complacent,” said Mr Price.

He said it allows people to be “the change you seek” rather than just “whingers.” It also means there is no change fatigue because change is continuous.

So he said there is no need for externally bought-in “change programs” that “make you vomit.”

Andrew Trounson

diversity in the workplace

Rowena Allen from the Department of Premier and Cabinet is sharing some eye-watering stats:

  • 40% of staff conceal their sexual orientation from their employers.
  • 56% of LGB people have been the target of negative commentary or jokes
  • Only 66.7% felt confident that their immediate manager would address homophobia.

Sal Orpin

Recommended for you