‘Digital disruption’ is a popular catchphrase these days, and you might be justified in feeling apprehensive about it. We often hear warnings of new technologies shaking up the future of work, leaving workers scrambling to keep up in the march toward digitalisation.
Small wonder that nearly six in 10 Singaporeans fear technology will make their roles redundant. Another 36% fret about not having the right skills to stay future-ready.
But technology doesn’t need to be a threat – it can be an asset, too. It’s true that the digital workplace of tomorrow is fraught with challenges and uncertainties. But it is also set to usher in more flexible, empowering models of working.
Here is our take on four key technology trends to look forward to – and how you can harness them to unleash greater career freedom.
Automation can mean human empowerment
Powered by advances in machine learning and AI, intelligent automation is disrupting a wide range of industries today. From manufacturing to marketing, automation is set to displace 85 million jobs worldwide by 2025 (even as it creates millions more).
With more companies turning to automation to boost productivity, it is no surprise that this trend is provoking unease. Indeed, four in ten Singaporeans now fear that automation will steal their jobs.
Perhaps it is time to reframe our perspective. It is safe to say that most of us don’t dream of doing mundane tasks from 9 to 5 daily. Today, a new generation of employees want to do work that is meaningful, purpose-driven, and taps into their strengths. In the future workplace, automation can fully take over repetitive tasks like data processing, freeing up humans to work on high-value projects.
Case in point: sales teams today spend two-thirds of their time bogged down by data entry and email outreach. Automate these and you gain the freedom to focus on more enriching work, such as building personalised relationships with clients and providing creative solutions to their problems.
By honing skills like creativity and problem-solving, you will be well-placed to thrive in a post-automation world.
Self-management is the new normal in remote work
Say goodbye to the old-school office cubicle – the future of work is remote. As Singapore companies accelerate their digital transformation post-pandemic, virtual workplaces look set to become the norm for forward-thinking organisations.
Already, 52% of local businesses have overhauled their IT infrastructure and boosted their digitalisation budgets to accommodate remote working. Another six in 10 employers plan to continue flexible work arrangements in the long term.
Clearly, there’s plenty to cheer about having the freedom to work from anywhere. For some, however, this is proving a tricky balancing act. Many Singaporeans report struggling with blurred boundaries between work and home, while others suffer from lower productivity and internet distractions.
These stumbling blocks can be tackled with smarter self-management. Rather than relying on a boss to stay motivated, employees should take charge of their own time by designing effective routines and setting boundaries between work and play.
You can harness digital tools to stay on track – habit-tracking apps can offer insights to optimise your workflows, while distraction blockers can keep you focused for deep work. Communicating your timetable to your managers and providing regular updates can be helpful too.
Having self-management skills will empower you to stay productive wherever you work – in a café, on a beach, and even while travelling the world.
Freelancing will be a viable path to financial freedom
Thanks to a new wave of digital platforms, Singapore’s gig economy is on the rise. Once stigmatised as low-skilled and precarious, freelancing is becoming a viable escape from the traditional 9-to-5 on the back of digital disruption.
Technology has made it remarkably convenient for freelancers to connect directly with clients, lowering barriers to employment. Today, you can hop onto social media channels like TikTok to market your skills, or set up an order management site for free with platforms like Cocoart. What’s more, you can now tap into a wealth of software solutions to simplify business processes, from invoice management to bank reconciliation.
At the same time, the sheer speed of technological change today is driving companies to fill the skills gap with freelancers. Skills in fast-growing sectors like AI, big data, and cybersecurity are in short supply – prompting businesses to turn to specialised contractors for on-demand expertise.
In such an opportunity-rich landscape, more Singaporeans look set to join the gig economy for a taste of financial freedom. Self-employment may result in lower job security, but it also offers full control over your hours and your choice of what projects to take on. The key to long-term success is keeping your digital skills sharp – and upskilling constantly to stay ahead in your industry.
Accelerating technological change will drive career flexibility
In our parents’ generation, the career path was a straight-line progression. You studied to enter a particular industry, joined your first company, and likely stayed there for decades. Barring rare crises – a recession, for instance – you would largely stay in the same occupation and use the same core skills your whole life.
For this generation, the future of work could not be more different. Technology is evolving at dizzying speeds, making it essential to reskill and redefine ourselves throughout our lives. Future-of-work expert Heather McGowan foresees a future where the exponential growth of technology calls on us to “have multiple careers” and “multiple occupational identities” as the norm.
One exciting outcome of this is greater flexibility to explore new roles and passions. Rather than being locked into one career path, workers will be able to go back to school and switch careers freely without facing the stigma of job-hopping. The Civil Service College Singapore predicts that in future, workers will move in and out of different jobs, skills training, and unemployment periods in one lifetime.
As lifelong learning becomes a way of life, you can count on more upskilling support too. For instance, NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute launched a S$70 million grant this year, designed to support 1,000 employers in reskilling and training programmes. NTUC Learning Hub also offers a range of courses in key industries to help you transform your skillsets.
DISCOvering career freedom in a digital future
The digital future is already here, and the time is ripe to take charge of your career freedom. Get a headstart on the latest technology trends at LIT DISCOvery 2022, an annual career symposium by Young NTUC.
Happening on 23 July 2022, this year’s LIT DISCOvery is themed ‘Immersing Youths in a World of Technology’. Expect exciting keynote symposiums on new norms in the future workplace, where you can glean insights from C-suite speakers on harnessing digital disruption to your advantage.
You can also look forward to career profiling, masterclasses, and networking opportunities with local employers. Sign up for free now!