Are You Ready for the Open Workforce?

Trends affecting the global working environment are rapidly changing. Employees must adapt to harness opportunities and stay ahead.

By Gillian Lees, Head of Research and Development, CIMA


A recent research launched at the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) in Rome last November indicates that organisations are increasingly finding themselves managing an open workforce. This is one in which talent and resources are spread across a complex mix of in-house teams, freelancers, contractors and external business partners. The workplace of the future will be open, agile, innovative, collaborative, automated and digitised.


Keep up with trends


Management accountants and finance professionals need to understand the external environment of a business to assess the impact of major developments on their organisations. But it’s also important to understand how such trends could impact career and working patterns.


These changes include automation, disruptive technology and digitisation, and they look set to play a leading role in your working life. There are a number of ways that you can keep up with this swiftly transforming environment. This is all the more critical when considering the fact that, according to a recent McKinsey survey, only 42% of employers felt that their employees had been adequately prepared for work by education. So to stand out from the crowd, it is imperative that you evolve your mindset to keep ahead.


Build the right skills


Focus on building strong people and leadership skills. These can’t be easily automated so they are going to be crucial in enhancing your employability.


Match this with strong IT skills. Don’t be complacent, even if you’re a so called ‘digital native’. IT competence is now as fundamental as numeracy and literacy skills. Sign up for regular technology updates and keep an eye on new products to understand what is now possible.


Consider developing your imagination and creative skills, for example, through fiction or art. The pace and scale of technological change is so breathtaking that a strong imagination could be a great asset alongside your technical, people and business skills.


An open workforce will put a premium on the ability to work across organisational boundaries with a variety of freelancers, contractors and outsourced service providers. Look to get as much experience as possible out of working with such third parties, and build your external relationship management competencies.


Organisations are becoming more generationally and culturally diverse. A new generation of digitally savvy millennials are entering the workplace and baby boomers keep working longer, meaning talent is drawn from a wider pool. People and relationship management skills will, of course, be crucial but consider whether additional language skills could also be helpful.


We’re all entrepreneurs now


People embarking on careers now are likely to have more jobs in a variety of formats (both employed and self employed) than previous generations. So it’s as well to adopt a more entrepreneurial approach to your career. Learn from how the self-employed market themselves and their businesses.


Finally, think about your own skills and values, and how these would translate into your business proposition. Taking this approach can help you identify gaps in your experience, which you can look to fill by taking on projects and assignments in your current workplace.


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