The Future of Work: from IQ to EQ to AQ?… what we’ve been reading this week at Brand Genetics

This week at Brand Genetics we’ve been reading about how the world of work is changing — not only in terms of how and where we work, but also who is working and what we do for work.

Take, for example, how ‘intelligence’ itself is being re-defined: where once IQ (measuring ‘general intelligence’) was prized as the supreme measure of intelligence and indicator of success, EQ (measuring ‘emotional intelligence’) has begun taking its place, and both are arguably to be succeeded by AQ (measuring our ability to adapt). But more on that later…

Thanks to our ever-changing world — with the likes of urbanization, resource scarcity, advanced technologies, and aging populations — lives (and careers) are getting longer, people are moving faster, pressure is intensifying and businesses are disappearing, emerging and diversifying more than ever before.

This week, we want to highlight 5 key themes changing the world of work:

1. Performance Reigns
As lives become faster, technology becomes more advanced, and science becomes more targeted, we are seeing growing emphasis on productivity and performance — with people striving to do as much as possible, as efficiently as possible. For example, the rise in performance nutrition and ‘biohacking’ is giving us new ways to tailor our food consumption to better enhance our focus, endurance and productivity. Similarly, anti-distraction apps leverage external tools and guiding structure to limit distractions.

2. Environmental Mindfulness
The theme of health and wellbeing is nothing new, but we are now beginning to see the effects in the world of work. From the incorporation of biophilic design and “breathability”, to combating ‘burnout’ through digital detoxing, to mindful minimalism and shorter, more condensed work weeks (that allow for more personal or family time), we are increasingly thinking about the impact our environment has on our health and wellness.

3. (Neuro)diversity & AI
It’s been increasingly shown that many businesses today lack not only racial and gender diversity, but cognitive diversity as well. This tendency to hire the ‘status quo’ can limit creativity, inclusivity and even productivity (if environments aren’t designed with the right people in mind). Companies are beginning to acknowledge such biases and working to overcome them, using revised interview techniques to hire more ‘neurodiverse’ teams, such as those with autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. AI is similarly being used to ensure unbiased and inclusive hiring practices, focusing on key skills and performance indicators rather than background or gender.

4. Enhanced Expectations
Younger generations in particular have increasingly high expectations of where and how they want to work. They want autonomy, flexibility, and vibrant culture; and they want to work for a company rooted in purpose and shared values. Additionally, they want to be treated as individuals, with high levels of personalization and feedback. Especially as people are projected to have longer and more varied careers — working well into their 70s and 80s — atmosphere, culture and sense of mutual value will be essential.

5. AQ & The Rise of ‘Adaptive Intelligence’
It is widely acknowledged that Emotional Intelligence is an increasingly important skillset in any field. But the newest focus is on Adaptive Intelligence, or AQ — focusing on traits related to flexibility, adaptability, and resilience. With the rise of ‘out of office’ working (e.g. flexible / remote working) as well as growing desire for more agile practices, the ability to flex and adapt to different environments, people, challenges and styles will be increasingly set people apart.

The Human Experience (HX) Learnings?

Regardless of your current industry, there is no doubt that the work world will continue to change as the world around us does, and we are only beginning to scratch the surface on productivity, wellness and creativity.

As roles evolve and the work day and work place continue to have their boundaries blurred, it will be important to:

  • Think human first — put people (individuals and teams) at the heart of business

NB: for anyone interested in seeing more examples of how the workplace and workforce is evolving, BBC’s Worklife 101 is a great place to start)

Liz Thompson is a lead consultant at Brand Genetics, an insight and innovation agency specialising in human-centred insight and innovation. She is an insight-led, human-centric strategist who uses her interest and passion for understanding consumer behaviour to spot new business & innovation opportunities.

Human-Centered Insight, Innovation and Trends from Brand Genetics

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