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Fluidity: The Future of Work

Work itself is being transformed by a concept that very few people understand: fluidity.

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We are in the midst of a technology revolution that is fundamentally changing both our mindset and our execution. As a result, work itself is being transformed by a concept that very few people understand:

Fluidity.

It’s the overall mental, physical and emotional divergence from the rigid, binary, and compartmentalized…to the flexible, dynamic and integrated. 

The demand for fluidity explains why companies are so perplexed by the demands of their employees. It also sets the stage for the transformation of the workplace itself.

Fluidity is already all around us. It’s a sensation that everyone feels, yet remains so ill-defined.

Below are some illustrations of how fluidity is the future of work. It also outlines why understanding fluidity is the solution to charting your course ahead, personally and professionally.

FLUIDITY OF TOOLSETS

The daily toolset for most people has changed radically with the rise of remote work. Most of us are no longer just dealing with Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, Excel and Outlook. We now have a multitude of technology tools and platforms that we dynamically switch between. This exemplifies the functional fluidity of the modern worker. 

FLUIDITY OF INDIVIDUAL WORK-LIFE

Moreover, the pandemic has forced the blending of our personal and professional lives. The reality is that work and home are now the same place. Successfully navigating this requires context-switching, all the time. For example, all parents are now familiar with hopping between schooling their child and putting out work-fires. 

But this new fluidity is not just affecting employees. It is impacting the companies as well.

FLUIDITY OF ORGANIZATIONS

Today’s organizations are not just comprised of full-time and part-time employees. They are composed of a wide variety of constituents, such as full-timers, part-timers, contractors, consultants and project-oriented gig workers. There is an ever-changing composition of workers that can be scaled-up, down and sideways to help accomplish whatever project is at hand. Technology enables companies to achieve this. Fluidity demands it.

FLUIDITY OF LEARNING

Technology has removed the limitations that previously hampered an employee skill-levels. Any person can now learn almost any skill imaginable through platforms like Youtube, Coursera or Udemy. With technology enablement, anyone can now become an expert, almost overnight.

As a result, there are no longer any clear boundaries on career progression. The workers in previous generations had their career predicated upon “or.” They were specialists in one thing. It was this or that.

This is not the case for this new generation of workers. Today, the focus has shifted to “and.” Younger professionals can now stack-on skills that span multiple disciplines. Work has now become this and that! 

The result is transformative. We can now sample and try different areas simultaneously to see what we like. We can then parallel path our pursuit of unique and even eclectic interests. 

FLUIDITY OF IDENTITY

This notion of fluidity has even seeped into the concept of identity. The younger generations don’t want to be boxed in, especially when it comes to how they are identified. They want to be whomever they want to be.

Gender fluidity is one such example. The younger generation wants the freedom to define themselves. In fact, they chafe at being hemmed-in by any formalized structure. This ties back to their desire to be able to sample everything. 

Indeed, that belief system is something they have carried from their youth. It stayed with them through their teens and through college. Inevitably, it is now in the workplace. 

The way these young leaders think, is precisely how they’re operating. They grew up in a world where they could switch between any kind of app, learn any skill, build or design whatever they needed. They’ve done that their whole lives. 

Thus, they now expect this from their places of work. 

THE ROAD AHEAD

When it comes to the future of work, fluidity applies at multiple levels. Most people understand it only from a technology or process-efficiency standpoint. But when you view it from a human perspective of people themselves, it drives a shift in thinking.

Today, the oldest Millennial is almost 40 years old, according to Pew Research. In 10 years, they’re going to be running most organizations. But they have a different mindset from previous generations. They have a different belief system. They have a different philosophy in the way they work. They will soon become the executive decision-makers. None of this can be changed.

But it doesn’t need to be.

By simply understanding what is happening, you can successfully position yourself for the change overtaking the modern workplace. Because ultimately, change always brings opportunity.

Learn more about fluidity and how to be fluid in my new book, Building The Business of You by Connie W. Steele. This article first appeared on bizofyou.co.

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