Change in the workplace happens slowly. Sure we hear about all the latest, amazing technology that can make the way we work faster and more efficient, but companies are notoriously slow at adopting this new technology. I have clients who are still using native Microsoft Office apps, but increasingly many of these same clients are moving to cloud based solutions such as Google Docs, Office 365 and Apple iWorks. And this is great. By 2020, even the most resistant of companies will be using cloud services for all their documented work. The question now is how do you prepare for this future?
It’s very easy to get stuck with a particular mindset. You go to work, turn on your desktop computer, open Outlook and download your email. Precisely what people were doing fifteen years ago. It’s the way you have always worked, and you got yourself in to middle management. What’s the problem? I hear you ask. The problem is your younger competitors are going to creep up behind you and steal that next promotion you have your eye on. And this is going to happen time and time again, until eventually you wake up and realise the world has changed around you. By then you will have a lot of catching up to do and trying to learn new things that have been changing around you for many years is tough. I remember when I switched from Photoshop 5 to Photoshop CS3 — a gap of almost 10 years. Photoshop CS3 was unrecognisable. I spent months re-learning Photoshop. Time I could have spent creating was spent learning new tools. It was frustrating and taught me a valuable lesson. Never to let myself get so far behind in future.
I understand finding the time to learn all these new tools is not easy, and the time you spend learning them will have to be done in your own time, not company time. And there are many people who want to maintain a barrier between work and home, but sorry, that barrier fell a long time ago. If you are one of those people, you are going to get left behind and will soon find yourself unemployable. The job market is a competitive sport, and if you don’t have the skills your competitors have, you will not be employed. Your competitors in the job market are emailing from their smartphones within minutes of waking in the morning. They’re responding to their bosses, clients and customers on the bus in to work and they’ve put the finishing touches to the presentation they will be giving at 10:00AM in front of their regional Director before you have even turned on your office computer. This is the new normal. Putting up barriers between your work life and your home life is not. How long do you think your company will accept your intransigence?
Here’s an idea… ‘Future Proof’ yourself
All the mainstream cloud services have a free model. Apple, Google and Microsoft allow you to use their cloud based services for free through your web browser and in many cases through free native apps on your devices. You can use these services in a limited way for free and you can learn how they work, how you can collaborate with others and learn each service’s features. I can promise you, your HR department are not going to do this for you. This is going to be your responsibility. This really is a guaranteed way of future proofing yourself and helping you to get ahead of your competitors in the job market.
For your next presentation project, prepare your presentation using Apple’s Keynote. Learn how to create slides, add animation and slide transitions. Do it on your laptop, iPad and iPhone. Then, once you are finished, if you have no other choice, download the file as a PowerPoint file and present in a normal way. If you do have a choice, do your presentation as a Keynote file. Then, the next presentation prepare it in Google Slides. Do the same thing. While you are doing all this, you are learning, you are preparing yourself for the future. You are ‘future proofing’ yourself. Who knows what system your company will adopt in the future? One thing for sure is that they will change and they will adopt one or the other system. By playing around with each service you are preparing yourself for the future and you will be ready. No matter how old you are, your actions today will determine your future.
You future is in your hands. You can learn the new technology available today and prepare for an exciting future, or you can continue to defend your right to a 1990s style of work / life balance that your competitors rejected a long time ago. I know what I will do.
Carl Pullein is the author of Your Digital Life: Everything you need to know to get your life organised and put technology to work for you, a book about how to get yourself organised in the twenty-first century