Learn how to prepare for the future of work as a remote employee. We share our favorite future-proof workforce tips, hiring trends, & career advice now:
Helping people learn how to prepare for the future of work is our jam.
Nearly 10 years ago, before remote work was trendy (and way before it became the new normal), We Work Remotely launched as the #1 destination to find WFH jobs.
We *knew* the future of work was remote. And we’ve had the pleasure of observing and evolving alongside the remote work phenomenon as it changes how we all think about work.
Now we’re letting our data on remote hiring trends help you better prepare for the future of work and your career goals.
So let’s start by answering:
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says the future of work is “a projection of how work, workers, and the workplace will evolve in the years ahead [*].” Future-thinking organizations and leaders are weighing:
How the Work Will Be Done
Automation, AI, and machine learning are poised to free up employees for higher-level thinking, ushering in a time of immense curiosity, creativity, productivity, and innovation.
As tech upgrades take over full-time, organizations will add more remote, part-time gig workers to their ranks.
Widening skills gaps and labor shortages mean more companies will also invest in upskilling or reskilling their current teams, moving them into new roles and career paths.
So when you’re browsing roles from the top remote companies hiring on WWR, take a peek at the benefits tab on their company profile. Look for signs they’re willing to invest in you, such as offering learning and development stipends.
Where and When the Work is Done
Organizations and remote workers must prepare for these changes on the horizon, albeit in different ways. So how do we prepare for work in the future today?
Learning how to prepare yourself for future opportunities doesn’t require a fundamental shift in your career. You can score one of the highest-paying remote jobs today and thrive for years if you follow these tips:
1. Create a Professional Development Plan
English writer Theodore Hook said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
So what do you want your future work life to look like? What do you want to do now, and where will you be most happy?
A professional development plan (PDP) outlines your goals and maps the route you’ll take to achieve them. A PDP is essential for charting your career as you navigate the future’s twists and turns.
Before you skip this step, you should know people are actually 42% more likely to achieve their goals just by writing them down [*].
Putting your aspirations on paper allows you to:
- Get clear about what you really want
- Assess the skills you have and still need
- Determine your best course of action and immediate next steps
- Focus on activities that get you closer to reaching your milestones
- Ruthlessly cut out distractions and procrastination
- Consider future trends or roadblocks that may help/hurt your progress, and strategize ways to leverage them for success
It helps to break down your PDP into accomplishments you’d like to achieve in the next year, three years, five years, etc. Stick to SMART Goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based here.
2. Take a Self-Assessment of Your Skills
In the future, the skills section of your resume may be more important than the block devoted to your education. Skills-based assessments are replacing formal degree requirements during the hiring process, and we’re on board.
In our ever-evolving future of remote work, the education we receive and the skills we pick up only last for so long before they must be replaced or upgraded.
So, according to Chief Learning Officer Magazine, we shouldn’t think about skills as either hard or soft, but rather as durable and perishable [*]. Every skill has a half-life, or the time it takes for that skill to reduce to half its initial value.
Experts say skill durability falls into three categories [*]:
1. Perishable skills (half-life < 2.5 years). These include proprietary software-specific skills, organization-specific protocols and policies, etc. These skills may be obsolete if you switch employers, for example.
2. Semi-durable skills (2.5 years > half-life < 7.5 years). Skills like field-specific frameworks and processes, industry-preferred tech and tools, and career-related best practices fall here. You typically upgrade these as you climb the ladder.
3. Durable skills (half-life > 7.5 years). These skills form a base layer for your mindset and work style. They’re foundational, transferable skills you can take between employers, promotions, and even career pivots. Skills such as leadership, time management, and collaboration are good examples.
A self-assessment helps you evaluate your professional skills, interests, knowledge, and experience relative to your career goals. Try to categorize them based on the skill durability we just outlined.
Generally, you want to spend more time picking up durable and semi-durable skills you’ll need in your future dream role. This will strengthen the value you bring to employers and help you stand out in the sea of competition.
Leadership and stellar remote communication skills are impressive on resumes now and will be in five years, for instance. But a perishable skill like going viral on TikTok? Maybe not so much.
3. Lean Into Microlearning and Macrolearning to Level Up
McKinsey researchers predict that up to 40% of all workers will need to upgrade their skills by 2030 [*]. So how will you prepare yourself technically and professionally for the future of work?
By adopting the growth mindset of a lifelong learner.
Taking opportunities to upskill and potentially reskill for emerging roles shows organizations that you’re a curious self-starter bursting with all sorts of talent. It also helps you add more impressive skills to your resume to beat the ATS.
To level up your skills according to your PDP, consider both micro- and macrolearning ideas.
Microlearning: Picking Up New Skills Quickly as Needed
Microlearning refers to learning bite-sized chunks of a larger topic. You’ll be able to pick up easily understandable intel and use it that same day.
Examples of microlearning include:
- Reading a helpful blog post
- Watching a YouTube tutorial
- Shadowing a coworker
- Asking a manager for additional responsibility
If you’re not learning something new every day, at least commit to one microlearning session each week. Who knows where following the thread of one question or interest may take you?
Macrolearning: Adding New Core Skills Over Time
Macrolearning opportunities tend to be longer and more structured. You’ll pick up complex skills with the help of an experienced professional and may have your proficiency evaluated or graded.
Examples of macrolearning opportunities include:
- Taking an online course
- Finding a mentor in your field
- Cross-training in a new department
- Studying a new language
Your PDP should include your macrolearning plans. Give yourself deadlines, such as enrolling in one webinar by the end of the month, partnering with a career coach this year, etc.
4. Explore a Hybrid Career in Data
One report revealed that “85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet [*].”
According to the Cognizant Jobs of the Future Index, new titles such as Metaverse Avatar Creator, AR Journey Builder, Business Intelligence Architect, and Cyber Calamity Forecaster are already hitting job boards [*].
But one of the most interesting hiring trends we’re seeing is the rise of the hybrid data scientist. Organizations are amassing heaps of data by the second and looking for smart cookies to make sense of it all.
Data science used to be confined to the world of programming. However, now platforms for data analysis have become more accessible and easy to use for people without technical or coding skills.
Data-literate candidates can understand and leverage vast quantities of information to drive smarter decisions. For example, a digital marketer may learn data science to get ahead of trends, understand their target audience better, and convert more customers.
That’s why many experts agree that “data science is a 21st-century job skill that everybody should have.” It can be used in every industry [*].
5. Tap Into Your Passions To Stand Out as a Specialist
Remote organizations are increasingly looking for people in specialized roles, a trend we predict lasts well into the future. “The riches are in the niches,” after all.
So what talents, interests, and ideas do you want to explore in your future workplace? What area of expertise do you want to dive into?
Coders who were intrigued and excited about blockchain technology a few years ago were eager to learn how it all worked. Now blockchain engineers are some of the most in-demand and highest-paid remote workers.
Bill Burnett, author of the New York Times bestselling book Designing Your Work Life, told the Creative Confidence Podcast [*]:
“Passions occur when you dig deep on something you’re interested in and you become an expert. Surfacing your passion will enable you to find greater happiness at work and differentiate yourself from others.”
6. Become a Better Human and Leader
We hear this question all the time: What strategies can I use now that will also be helpful in my future career?
Skills that fall under the emotional intelligence umbrella include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. These core abilities influence how you communicate with coworkers, problem-solve, collaborate as a team, and work with leaders and clients.
They’re some of the most sought-after skills in the modern workplace. And they’re going to become even more necessary in the future.
Researchers from the Harvard Business Review believe up to 65% of a manager’s tasks may be automated by 2025 [*]. So leaders will become more like career coaches in the flat hierarchy that will develop in the future.
You’ve heard the saying that people don’t quit jobs; they leave managers. So we believe remote employees will stay loyal to emotionally-intelligent team leaders.
Organizations will rely on managers to:
Anyone aiming for a leadership position in the future should refresh and strengthen their people skills. This is one area in which automation, AI, and ML have yet to outsmart us.
No one can predict what the future of remote work may bring. So your best bet is to keep leveling up and adding skills to your toolbelt.
Start by creating your personal development plan ASAP. Outline the skills you have and the ones you’ll need to land your dream roles of the future. Explore your passions and then craft a game plan that includes micro- and macrolearning opportunities to become your best work self.