What Skills Will You Need for the Future Workplace? 6 Thought Leaders Weigh In

by Shelbi Gomez
, 3 min read
skill workplace

The workplace is changing fast, and while sometimes it feels like we can barely keep up, it’s vital that we’re prepared for the future too.

More knowledge workers are entering the workforce and there are new uses of technology that make managing work easier. But, the workplace of the future will likely require even more new skills and technologies.


See our post "3 Ways to Get Work Automation to Work for You (Not Against You)" for insight into one of these new technologies.


Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with five thought leaders and ask them what skills and technologies they think we need to prepare for the future of work.

The experts were:

  • Jess Pike, managing editor, King Content
  • Alex Clarke, digital content manager, B2B Marketing
  • Paul Hill, journalist and course director, Chartered Institute of Marketing
  • Barry Hodge, programme manager, Knightstone Housing Group
  • Andrea Fryrear, speaker, author, and Chief Content Officer at Fox Content
  • Phil Sheldrake, member of the Digital Life Collective and director and secretary at Network Society Research

Here’s what they said.

What skills and technologies should we be acquiring now to be prepared for the future workplace?

“Better communication skills will be vital—we all rely too much on email, and having a conversation IRL (in real life) can resolve problems far more quickly.

“At the same time, because we're becoming so reliant on technology we need to be fostering our written skills as well.

"Too often, poorly worded emails fly off to clients/senior contacts and reflect poorly on the brand in question... yes, I know I would say this as a writer, but make sure your team has at least a couple of standout writers on board.

"They'll be invaluable going forward!”

—Jess Pike and Alex Clarke

“Creativity and abstract thinking are the hardest things to automate, so they are the best human skills to have in the future.

"But it’s also about a change in attitude. Today’s workforce is still from generations who were asked when they were kids, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ I wanted to be an astronaut. Didn’t pan out that way.

“But the question in the future is going to be: ‘What range of things do you want to do when you grow up?’ You’re not going to be one thing; you’re going to be many over the course of your lifetime.

"So the other skills that future workers will need is adaptability and flexibility.” 

—Paul Hill

“Looking after data and information. We are creating more and more data every day. Across the world more data has been captured today than yesterday. It is growing and getting bigger.

“People need to know how to look after data and then know how to interpret it. The business leaders of the future who will make the best decisions are the ones who have the best data and know how to interpret it.”

—Barry Hodge

“Personally, I think we should all be required to understand Agile principles for managing our individual workloads.

"If everyone had a Kanban board and we all respected individual WIP (work in progress) limits we could get so much more done with so much less stress.

“The complexity levels of the modern workplace aren’t going down any time soon, so we might as well learn how to manage them as best we can, and Agile practices are simply the best way to do that.”

—Andrea Fryrear

“If you’re going to tap into that data and help translate it into information and then translate it into knowledge, you have to have that digital literacy but also have this numeracy.

"You have to deal with data and understand how we can make use of it, how we can put it to good use.

“The people who have the numeracy to do that will be at a much greater advantage in the twenty-first century to those who don’t.”

—Phil Sheldrake

These thought leaders feel that honing skills that can’t be automated—interpersonal communication, creativity, and abstract thinking—will be essential. They also predict that work management skills and the ability to interpret data will become even more valuable in the future.


Check out "Get Ready for The 4 Challenges Shaping The Future of Work: News From The Best of Leap 2017" for more on the future of work.

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