’Future-proofing’ may just sound like a new buzz phrase but there is some real substance to the ideas behind the term

People in the workplace are facing change from all angles, including the growth of artificial intelligence, which a recent report from PwC predicted could be contributing around $15,7 trillion to the global economy by 2030

“Future-proofing” may just sound like a new buzz phrase, but there’s some real substance to the ideas behind the term. What it actually means to future proof something is to make it sustainable; able to last beyond the present moment and withstand change and fluctuations. In a world that is increasingly focused on sustainability, it’s hugely important to build sustainability into our work life. The current high rate of change in the workplace is unprecedented, and cultivating sustainability could mean that you are well equipped to withstand change and have an extensive and rich career, no matter what lies ahead.

People in the workplace are facing change from all angles, including the growth of artificial intelligence, which a recent report from PWC predicted could be contributing around $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. So what can be done to prepare for all the change ahead, especially the unknown elements?

Keep learning
Getting a qualification isn’t the end of learning. Professional development can take many different forms, but with resources such as online courses readily available, anyone can continue their learning journey. One of the significant perks is that this doesn’t always require a lot of money either. Taking a short course or even exploring the basics of a new skill, like coding, could help you adapt to future changes in your sector, or to make the move across to a different industry.

Try new things
Proactively taking personal responsibility for your career and the development of new skills is an important part of staying adaptable and creating a sustainable career. Adaptability means trying new things and being open to developing and growing in new, possibly unchartered directions. If there are jobs that you could be doing that don’t exist yet, the way to be ready for them when they arrive is to continue exploring new paths and acquiring new skills now.

Explore the gig economy
The gig economy is a labour market that is made up of freelance, flexible, on-demand work as opposed to full-time, fixed positions. If you work in an industry or company that is changing the way it hires and uses resources, it might be time to consider exploring this phenomenon. Rather than depending on a single company for income, people can explore the possibility of having several different “gigs” and diversifying their work life. Having different income streams offers more schedule control and the variety of clients that comes with this kind of work means that a career can keep going even if one client falls away.

Understand soft skills
Your contributions to your company are more than just the technical skills you use to do your work. Soft skills are often the features that make work stand out and add value to an employer. From a individual point of view, the constant changes in the working world mean that now, more than ever, people are looking to find meaning in their work that goes beyond profit. A desire to contribute to society in a bigger way has become a key aspect of career transitions. What does that mean for your current role? Cultivating soft skills that place a value for people in the centre of your management and working style can help develop a sense of altruistic satisfaction that can sustain a feeling of meaningfulness in any role, or smooth the transition to a different type of career.

Another significant advantage of soft skills is that they are an area where people will be better than machines for a long time to come. Understanding the underlying problems in a colleague’s personal life that are affecting their work, creating a healthy work environment, or connecting with a client over a shared hobby are soft skills that can add value beyond measure.

The heart of a building a sustainable, future-proofed career lies in thinking beyond just the moment. Choosing to do something today because you have a long-term view of its benefit for the future of your career will ensure it’s sustainable, no matter what’s ahead.

F.R. (Rhys) Robinson, PhD is Executive Director, Infinitus Reporting Solutions (Pty) Ltd, provider of enterprise-wide consolidation, planning and reporting solutions.

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