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Many of us subscribe to a fear of the ‘rise of the machines’. Automation, AI, the need for lifelong learning, the changing attitudes to work and the rise of a ‘new’ kind of worker means that everything we know about employment is changing.

The Drum invited a panel of experts to discuss Future of Work, to coincide with The Drum August issue, out tomorrow (July 18) which explores finding out what roles will go the way of AI, what our children will do for a living, and what the workplace of tomorrow will look like.

The panelists include futurist and entrepreneur, Amelia Kallman; Stuart Templeton, head of Slack UK; Sera Miller, co-founder of the Fawnbreak Collective; Helen Tupper, commercial marketing director for Microsoft and co- founder of AmazingIf. The panel dismissed the popular notion that technology will destroy more jobs than ever, and added that the future of work is here, it is now.

“Work is going to become increasingly decentralized and that I think there's less of a reason to show up to an office every day as technology is increasing”, argued Kallman because technology will help increase productivity. However what organisations need to do instead is invest in new skills. “If companies are not looking ten years ahead in the future, then they are in denial about where they are going,” she warned.

For Tupper, the future of work' concept is full of opportunities “but you must be ready to invest in your skills or it will move forward without you.” When it comes to skills, she says it is even more crucial that we commit to a new kind of leadership and management style -- “a new kind of training for managers because there is (currently) no investment in the skills we need for the future.”

Humanity, not automation, at the core of future of work

According to Deloitte 47% percent of jobs in the near distant future would be automated and that work In the future would be completely different. A statistic quoted by Templeton who added that while this happens “human skills would become even more important for the future.”

Miller added that we also need to start thinking about how working from home affects people and their productivity. “It is really lonely not going into an office, and that can be really challenging. The social aspect of working especially for smaller companies can be a challenge because there is nothing to remind people to switch off when they are working from home as there is no change in their environment.”

Technology as the great equalizer

When asked to gaze into their crystal balls and predict what 2030 would look like when it comes to future of work, Kallman said “I think technology is going to become a great equalizer, for instance there would be no need to live in cities anymore” stating that the future of technology would make it possible for most of us to work remotely. Both Kallman and Miller said that they see a future where work is ready to move out of metropolitan cities and see the move out of traditional office spaces.

Templeton concluded that the future world would be one where the focus will be on collaboration and one where AI will become the “chief of staff” allowing societies an equal access of technology and therefore flexible models of working. Tupper added: “There's a responsibility on all of us to make sure that we engineer those moments into these new ways of work in the future.”