May 27, 2015

Insights from Lynda Gratton from the World Business Forum (Sydney)

Lynda Gratton, a Professor at the London Business School, identifies five key ways that our lives will change over the next decade – something that has major ramifications for both individuals and companies.

Five ways your life will change over the next decade

Lynda Gratton, a Professor at the London Business School, identifies five key ways that our lives will change over the next decade – something that has major ramifications for both individuals and companies.

Her five key trends are:

1. Plan to work into your 80s

Many of us will live until 100, and our children certainly will so what happens to society ‘when everyone lives until 100 years old’? She suggests planning your career so this becomes a gift rather than a curse. “The tension that longevity will create for corporations and for governments, none of whom are prepared for this, is going to be one of the defining activities and conversations of your life,” she says.

Gratton suggests someone born in 1947 would have a three-stage life where they focused on education, took a job, then retired at about 65. From now on, lives are not going to be like that. “Long lives mean huge opportunities to do wonderful things because right now everything is crammed together, we are trying to have kids, get a great job, increase our promotion prospects in a very short time – imagine if all that was elongated?”

2. Intangible assets are crucial

While tangible assets are all the things you can buy and sell – pensions, salary, savings, your house – the intangible assets are things that money can’t necessarily buy, such as productivity and your vitality.

“Young people are very interested in transferable skills that they can learn in your company and then take somewhere else because what they are doing is building productive assets that can be moved from one company to another and that’s a very smart thing to do,” she says. “Every time you learn something that you can take beyond your job you are building your productive assets.”

3. Prepare for transformation

Gratton predicts that in the future, people will have periods of exploration where they will look at different careers and ways of living in both the beginning and middle of their lives. A survey she did of Gen Z – kids aged 12-18 – asking them what sorts of companies they wanted to work for found that lots of those surveyed wanted to start their own business.

“Why? Technology has changed the whole landscape of corporations and work and what it means is that even a tiny little business employing five or six people can have a global reach and they are realising that,” she says. “It’s not that they want to become a billionaire or build the largest company in the world, they sort of want to become an individual producer where there’s a group of four or five of them and they make a decent living building their own business.”

For someone born in 2012, their expectations of family life will also be different. The latest data looking at educated men and women in their mid-20s show that 30% of them are saying they won’t have children; a third want a traditional life where one of them works, either the man or the woman; and a third are saying they want a dual career.

Living longer lives means our networks become even more important. The three networks are our posse of about 10 colleagues and mentors; the ideas crowd; and the regenerative community.

4. Think hard about your skills

Gratton says that artificial intelligence is changing the dynamics of the workforce with computers able to take over anything that’s menial or routine. The jobs that will last into the future are those analytical jobs that are not routine. In short, these are the things that machines find it hard to do.

5. Balance work and home

Working 9-5 five days a week evolved from the industrial revolution and she believes it is time to re-engineer work so people can live their lives in a way that is more conducive to their happiness and vitality. “Work for many people has lot of demands and obligations, some of which are unnecessary, very little discretionary time for you to do what you want to do and constraints in terms of how and where you work.”

She suggests the individual take back control of the way they work and that corporations facilitate this to retain the best talent and improve the flow of energy between home and work.

For more information visit the NAB World Business Forum 2015 live insights hub.