screenshot 2023-08-23 at 10.29.09













Contact us

Privacy policy

Website terms of use

Cookies policy


Recuitment & retention

Foresight Focus

Hybrid work resources

Our vision

Who we are

What we do

Client engagements

The Future of Work | Working the Future
wtflogostrapline tm transparent
wtflogostrapline tm transparent
screenshot 2024-04-05 at 11.45.14

Working the Future blog: our latest insights and future of work sensemaking


2019-12-02 16:01

Cathryn Barnard



Having a plan means we can approach 2020 with confidence. We’re setting ourselves goals that will both add value to our clients, and in parallel feed our...


’It’s the end of a decade...’ sang Abba in their 1979 hit, Happy New Year

Just typing that makes me feel old, if a little nostalgic. And, as 2020 approaches, it’s an earworm I can’t shake each time I think about the coming year, and what I’d like to achieve, both personally and professionally. 


2019 has been a year of growth on so many levels. We’ve spent time nurturing our own flexible 21st Century talent eco-system, and learning just how many human skills are required to navigate and optimise diversity of thinking. 


I’ve also learnt huge amounts about marketing in the digital age. Inspired by Seth Godin, Amy Porterfield, Marie Forleo, and Bernadette Jiwa, we now have a much clearer vision for the digital side of our business. 


Having a plan means we can approach 2020 with confidence. We’re setting ourselves goals that will both add value to our clients, and in parallel feed our creativity, as this is where we get our biggest buzz. 


For me personally, in order to grow, there are several things I’ve identified to pay close attention to moving forward. Without these ’human skills’, I won’t achieve what I believe I’m capable of. 


By sharing these with you, I’m both holding myself accountable, and also, I hope, encouraging you to reflect on your own learning goals for the coming year. Here’s what I plan to practice more in 2020. 

1] Focus

We’ve written about attention deficit before - indeed, we think device and social media addiction are crippling productivity in the 21st Century.   


In spite of reading lots on this topic, no one has yet highlighted the cost of our digital distractedness as well as Marie Forleo. In Everything is Figureoutable, she illustrates the grand scale of the time-sink that technology distraction creates - just 30 minutes of daily online idling adds up to 22 full 8-hour workdays over the year!!   


That’s mind-boggling, and for anyone wishing they had more time to pursue their passions, it’s also pretty sobering. Fortunately, Forleo also provides actionable tweaks to supercharge productivity, and I’ve already noticed the benefits.       

2] Self-awareness 

It was our friend Mike who suggested Insight, by Tasha Eurich - one of the best books I’ve read on self-awareness yet. 


For me, self-awareness is about becoming more conscious of how I feel in certain situations, and how those feelings can impact my behaviour. We humans are a hot mess of emotions that shape our thoughts and behaviours. Unless we pay attention, we can find ourselves highjacked by circumstances that we somehow contrive to link to prior experiences. This behaviour keeps us stuck in the past. 


From now on, I’m paying more attention to how my thoughts and feelings can, when allowed, detrimentally shape my actions. By observing how I tend to respond to certain situations, I hope I’ll improve my communication skills in spades. 

3] Empathy 

Polarised thinking is all around us, dividing families, communities and societies. Yet in parallel, we’re told that plurality of perspective is essential for complex problem-solving. One of the most important things we can do in the future of work is to get outside of our siloed thinking, and practice empathy with those whose opinions we’d otherwise feel opposed to. When we face the discomfort of hearing alternative worldviews, we learn alternative perspectives, enhancing our understanding of the factors that have led to those differences of opinion. Nothing is ever black and white, and being able to embrace diverse thinking is already proving a crucial skill for navigating modern commercial landscapes. 

4] Enhanced listening 

My coaching diploma taught me what terrible listeners most of us are. Even when we think we’re listening, most of the time there’s an alternative narrative playing inside our heads in tandem. Seth Godin refers to this as ’Sonder’. 

Yet success at work is increasingly contingent on our listening skills to help clients figure out, and solve, problems that they don’t even know exist yet. My 2020 goal of better listening is an area that can be continuously improved. 

5] Asking better questions 

This goes hand in hand with points 3 and 4 above. Way too often, we’re so caught up in our own stories that we don’t pay attention to the information that’s freely around us. When we ask better questions, we gain far more insight into the challenges faced by our customers, we gain plurality of perspective, and we start to see the patterns that emerge. 

6] Sense-making 

Our human support networks are key to wellbeing. We’re social creatures, hardwired for connection and belonging. Our social groups, when grounded in trust and mutual respect, are where we come to make sense of our circumstances. 

In the future of work, having a community of practice will be key to successful sense-making. 

Sense-making is critical for figuring out new perspectives and approaches, underpinning innovation. I’m hugely grateful for my existing communities of practice and as we approach 2020, I know I’ll be ever more reliant on my network to help make better sense of the challenges that we all face. 

* * * * * 

So, there they are. I could have written about the ’hard skills’ I want to learn in 2020, but in so many ways, they’ll be easier to pick up.  

More challenging are those human skills that require constant practice and attention, but which, when made habit, I know will serve the entire Working the Future ecosystem well. 

I hope I’ve encouraged you to think about your 2020 learning goals - do drop me a line to let me know what you plan to focus on!


+ + + + +


Looking to dive deeper into some of the areas covered in this blog post? Check out our Recruitment and Retention and Foresight Focus reports and products.

© Working the Future Ltd. 2016-2024. Limited company no. 10512378 registered in England and Wales

 Registered office address: 42 Longfield Drive, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, HP6 5HE, United Kingdom

Working the Future, the Working the Future logotype and the arrowhead device are all registered trademarks of Working the Future Ltd.