How tech will enable the workers of the future

The modern workplace is becoming increasingly dependent on either remote or flexible working conditions. This is largely because expectations of work are shifting with employees searching for more fulfilment and purpose from a career, as opposed to clocking in and out of the job everyday.

Whether it be about reducing the daily commute, or achieving a better work-life balance, flexible or remote work offers a number of enticing prospects for the modern employee. With the sheer amount of communication technologies available, working remotely is less of a privilege for the lucky few, and more an assumed part of any company.

Digital design platform Canva is one example of a company that embraces employing remote workers, while also retaining their more ‘traditional’ office space in Sydney’s Surry Hills. Speaking with Ross Greenwood on the Origins Australia podcast, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer (CPO) of Canva Cameron Adams spoke to how they manage their remote workers around the world.

While Canva is one example of how the future of work is changing, what aspects of the modern workplace are changing (or are set to change) to enable remote or flexible working conditions?

Communication is key

Hiring people from around the world who can bring their own unique knowledge and experience promotes a global exchange of ideas under one shared vision. That is, if communication remains at the core of that exchange.

Communication between traditional and remote workers is increasingly enabled through the vast amount communication technologies available at our fingertips. So the expectation is that a company should have the tools and company culture that encourages communication across borders. Breaking down the barriers that once restricted flexible working conditions.

At Canva, Cameron explains that this communication is what makes hiring remote workers all over the world work. “Working remotely always comes with its problems, but we try to stay in touch as much as possible. If we’re talking to someone in Manila, we’re all on the same page and we have shared values, and it’s really easy to communicate, and we do focus a lot on that.

We bring staff to Sydney when they start so they can get adjusted to the culture, meet all the people that they’re working with. We also frequently travel over there so that we can stay in touch with them, see what the offices are like and make sure that the culture’s humming along and that we’re all on the same page.”

Remote workers

Upskilling in the modern workplace

Prospective employees are now expected to have the technological skills (or the agility to learn them) in order to thrive within the modern workplace. This is particularly relevant in an era where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is gradually being implemented in the workplace. As more and more jobs are automated through AI, jobs will require higher-level thinking and technical ability.

For remote workers, upskilling is one way to remain attractive to companies looking to outsource jobs. Cameron speaks to this point in the podcast, referring to ‘just-in-time’ learning. “We espouse a philosophy of ‘just-in-time’ learning. Where you can go into an enterprise without knowing exactly how to deal with foreign exchange and clients all around the world, but if you have a strong understanding of the fundamentals, and a can-do attitude, as those problems come up you just solve them and get them out of the way.”

Women laughing together

Working spaces for a future that craves flexibility

Along with the proliferation of more remote work opportunities comes the desire for spaces that can house remote workers temporarily. Enter co-working. From spaces like WeWork, to Fishburners and more, many companies are making it big in the area of communal workplaces. These spaces are similar to a traditional office, but are typically taken up by freelancers or start-ups and offer the freedom, flexibility and amenities that the standard office might not.

Given these kinds of spaces are often occupied by entrepreneurs and startups trying to make their way through the market, a fostered sense of ‘anything can be done’ provides that purpose that so many of today’s employees crave from their jobs.

While remote work remains an area still to be explored by many, the shift to embracing it, and flexible work more generally, is becoming a big part of what will shape the future of work. The expectations that come with this shift indicates that many of today’s global citizens crave work that gives them purpose beyond personal profit. With this, the development of unique and collaboratively-designed spaces to accommodate have become a booming business in itself. 

This all shows that the way we’ll be working in the future is likely to change, but will this bring us more overall satisfaction?

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