Nursery. Primary school. Middle school. Secondary school. Undergraduate degree. Masters degree. Post-graduate Certificate in Education. Teaching. For thirty years (almost consecutively) I’ve been a cog in the state education machine. And yet, the best learning I have done has been in the first four months since I left full-time teaching/education and embraced the world of remote working as part of a distributed team with Social INK.
Here are the ten things remote working has taught me about learning and the future of work.
1) The Future of Work Is Looking Increasingly Decentralised
Work as we have known it since the Industrial Revolution is finally evolving. There’s no longer a need for conveyor-belt workers performing mechanical tasks. Automation has long taken care of that. Instead, with improved technology, greater global access to the internet and faster connection speeds, employers are now able to recruit from a global talent pool.
International borders, commutes into work, and skills gaps (like the factory line) will also soon be a thing of the past. Being able to potentially cover all time zones with your distributed workforce and offer a worldwide 24/7 service at a fraction of the cost — that’s the way the wind is blowing.
2) People Are Taking Back Ownership of Their Time
In order to work remotely successfully, you need to be a self-starter. You have to self-motivate and be driven to complete your tasks without having someone looking over your shoulder. It won’t work otherwise. Get up. Get dressed. Start work. Manage your day. But, without the commute to “the office” and without the endless and unnecessary meetings, all of a sudden there are extra hours in the day.
If you’re clever with your scheduling, you can even begin to find time to do things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the working flexibility to do so. How you use your time is up to you. So long as what needs to get done, gets done.
3) Knowledge Isn’t as Important as Skills
You don’t need to know what an oxbow lake is or how it is formed. Or what happened to Henry VIII’s wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived).
Knowledge is freely and readily available if you are willing to seek it out. Everything you need to know is a mouse-click or tap away. But skills. The ability to do something. To add value. That isn’t so abundant. So take time to learn new skills. You never know when they may come in handy.
4) Resilience Is Key
Never give up. Keep trying. Circumstances change. Change is inevitable. It’s how you deal with it that really matters. Learn from failure. I’ve yet to meet anyone who gets everything right first time. Persistence, stoic stubbornness in finding solutions instead of wallowing in self-pity, will drive you to success.
5) Remote Working Requires Adaptability
This is a bit of a combination of Points 3 and 4.
Change happens. Equip yourself to deal with it. Adapt to the changing needs and demands of society/clients/technology. Embrace it as personal and professional growth. And be ready to adapt again in the near future.
6) Be Open and Receptive to New Ideas
You don’t know it all.
There are many people who know things that you don’t. Be open to this. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried. You may just profit from it in some way.
7) There’s an App for That
Whatever you need, whatever it is you do, there’s an app for that.
Equip yourself with the tools that will make you more efficient. And if you find that there isn’t an app for your specific need, you may just have stumbled across a business idea.
8) The Internet Is Your Office
There’s no need for a physical office space (unless you’re in retail — maybe). Do away with the costs of having one and work from wherever you please. It’s freeing and often inspiring. Change your scenery and reap the rewards.
9) Creativity Does Not Mean Art
The creative subjects at school are the arty ones for arty people: Art, Drama, Music.
Actually, creativity is bigger than that. It’s about problem-solving. Being able to offer solutions to problems is less the domain of the artist and more that of the critical thinker. Scientists are creative. As are writers, mathematicians, chefs, manufacturers. Everyone is creative. Figure out how to tap into that and you’re golden.
10) The Best Learning Happens Outside of the Classroom
‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ ~ Albert Einstein
Make of that what you will.