Software development industry is one of the fastest growing industries today and software developers are in demand everywhere in the world. At the same time, the future of work is a hot topic — on one hand, there are hopes that future of work will mean more opportunities for anyone, anywhere, working fewer days and hours, access to better tools and so on. On the other hand, many concerning questions have been raised such as will robots replace humans, will artificial intelligence throw ethics and moral out the door, will we be more wired yet less connected to each other at work and home, and so on.
While I do not have answers to a lot of the questions, this is what I know for sure. The future of work is going to be much different than work we know today and thus will require different mindsets and skills from people to navigate their careers. Whether it is for the better or for worse depends on all of us as we evolve our way of thinking and working. Today, I’d like to share with you five changes that I anticipate and what it means for you in your software development career.
1. More generalists than specialists
As we move to a data-driven world where we ship features quickly to find out about how well they add value to customers and learn and iterate from those results, it is more important than ever that we have more people on deck who are not afraid to roll their sleeves up and pick up any new or unfamiliar technology to get things done. This does not mean there will no longer be a need for specialists. There will always be. However, there will be a much larger need for generalists in the software development industry. We have already started seeing this with the rise in demand for full stack developers in the past few years. In short, being a jack of all trades will become cool in the future of work.
2. Collaboration over qualification
In the future, collaboration skill for those in software development profession will be even more important than it is now. Gone were the days where a candidate was hired because of his or her impressive qualification from an elite university.
Here is a bit of a personal story. I was born to academic parents and growing up, obtaining academic qualifications have always been at the top of my life goals. As a result, I considered academic qualifications to be one of the important things to have in resumes. It wasn’t until a decade into my career that I truly understood how important it is to have people who are collaborative and are team players than those who just excel in academics. They are not always mutually inclusive. The reason why collaboration skill will be a must-have instead of a nice-to-have is because no matter how well-educated you are, if you are not able to articulate your ideas well and not able to get buy-in from others, you won’t be able to progress as fast as the other person who is. Speed is key to unlock innovation in the future of work.
3. Global mindset
Having a global mindset in your software development career in the future of work comes in two folds. First in terms of the products that you are building for your customers. A good question to ask here is, will the product you’re developing work for different regions, different languages, different devices and different internet connection speeds?
Second part of having a global mindset is towards co-workers and those that you work with. With flexibility becoming number one need for the next generation of workers, it is important to bear in mind that a lot of your co-workers will probably be working from multiple locations, sometimes remotely. There is even a research that claimed, By 2020, 50% of Workforce Will Be Remote. This means being having a global mindset, being able to work well with people whom you may have never met in person, those who are from different backgrounds, and the openness to welcome diversity of thoughts will become essential. The future of work will be global, remote and borderless.
4. Lattice career progression as opposed to a linear one
Back in the day, career progression was largely linear; whereby a person would be moving upward on the traditional career ladder — from a junior role, to a mid-level, to a senior role, before becoming a manager and then possibly retiring as a senior executive.
However, your career progression will not be the same in the future. It will be lattice career progression, where you will move throughout your career, whether horizontally, diagonally or vertically, in both directions. This form of career development has already become common in our generation as more workplaces have a flatter organisational structure and have an agile way of working. It is estimated that sixty percent of all new jobs in the twenty-first century will require skills that only twenty percent of the current workforce possesses. What this means is that you will need to be flexible, adaptable and always be learning and growing in your career to thrive in the future of work.
5. Creative self-starters instead of task implementors
Back in the day, if you worked hard and completed your tasks on time, with little to no supervision, you would be considered a high-performer. This is no longer the case and it will become more and more obvious as time goes by. Self-starters who are willing to take risks and come up with creative solutions themselves will be much valued than tasks implementors who make no mistakes but simply execute someone else’s solution.
Having an entrepreneurial drive will become a norm instead of a novelty and organisations will expect and encourage this characteristics from their employees. Why? Because robots can do repetitive tasks with a better accuracy and speed than human beings can but they will never be as innovative as humans.
Get ready for the future of work
In fact, the future of work is actually not that far off in the future. We are already seeing glimpses of the future of work in our industry. So get ready, get excited, and be prepared for the biggest change in the software development industry. It will be different and I am certain that it’s the change that will bring out the best in you only if you are willing to give your best and be open to the possibilities.