A world without borders?

Many companies today are wrestling with the question of how we'll be working in 10 or 20 years. Will we still need offices, or will we work from wherever we happen to be, since everything is networked anyway? In 20 years will we just be checking the results of what machines do?

Let's be honest for a moment. Absolutely nobody can answer this question. The technologies are changing so rapidly that we are simply unable to predict the future.

One might be tempted to extrapolate from the experiences of the past. Unfortunately, that won't work! Methods that worked 50 years ago have lost their validity. Today's world is much too complex.

So the only possible answer is, we don't know!

We can try to monitor trends and make assumptions from them about the future. We see boundaries starting to loosen. The boundary between work and leisure has already become very vague. We live in an always-online society. If we think further along these lines, in the future we will more and more work when and where we want. Physical presence at the workplace will no longer be strictly necessary.

When we get together in groups, whether for work or leisure, the social aspect will be the focus. And that's what distinguishes us humans, and what machines will not be able to replicate any time soon - social interaction, empathy and creativity.

It is true that digitization will change everything. What can be technologized, will be. But that brings with it the opportunity for us to consider, and be, what we are - humans. Continuing along this line of thought, then companies might be able to derive strategies that put the focus on people, and let them be who they are. Automated work processes can be left to machines. They do them much more precisely and reliably than we do!

But between today and this brave new world there will inevitably be a period of turbulence. When boundaries disappear, the things they once separated begin to combine and interact until there is equilibrium. The challenge we face today is to remove these boundaries gently and not let ourselves become discouraged by the problems that will arise during this process. We need to have the confidence to allow self-determined work and recognize that the enlightened Homo Technicus does not need strict control, but rather a strong guiding vision.

Companies should question the point of their own value creation, and openly communicate as objectives the why and the where to. Then they must give employees free rein, trusting that they, and with them the entire company, will find the way forward, and will probably do so much more efficiently than would have been possible with the management methods of the last century.

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Friday, 04 December 2020