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Work Life After COVID According to Economic Futurist Shawn DuBravac

Jessica Welch
Tuesday, Jul 13, 2021

At this point in the COVID saga, a look into the crystal ball is murky, to say the least. Our futures and the future of countless companies and industries are uncertain and completely unpredictable. However, this lack of assurance in our previously plotted 5-year plans can’t stop us from moving forward within our companies and our industries. Economic Futurist Shawn DuBravac says while so many pieces of the puzzle are still missing, there are some sure bets we can count on to help us navigate into the next stage of our lives and businesses.

Shawn DuBravac is a global futurist, trendsetter, and author of the New York Times bestseller Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live and Communicate. His time as the former Chief Economist for Consumer Technology Association gave him the accreditation needed to be featured as a Senior Tech Industry Economist in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC.

In all his experience, he has studied the economic trends that follow what he calls “Black Swan” events. These events are so unpredictable and upheaving they change the way we live indefinitely. DuBravac believes the COVID-19 global pandemic falls into the Black Swan category and here are four ways he suggests you prepare for the future.

Brace yourself for accelerated innovation.

DuBravac says innovation is constantly happening at a slow and insignificant pace and it isn’t until you have a monumental event or change that it seems to rush into brilliance. After the last recession many innovative companies popped up and, a decade later, they are still changing the way we live. Uber, Airbnb, and Netflix all blossomed during the last recession into the permanent staples we now see them to be.

The stones were always being laid for these ideas, but the moment was never right until our lives were turned upside down by a huge economic hit. DuBravac believes the pandemic and economic depression that came with it will be a catalyst for innovation.

If you want to be on the winning side of things, it’s in your best interest to look around at the current state of things and see where society is lacking and how you can fill the hole. If you feel like you’re already winning at life and don’t want to make your name in innovation, prepare yourself for the world to change around you.

Look for opportunities without congestion.

Until now, money and profits have been based on large-scale congestion. DuBravac says to understand this, think about a sports stadium. Stadiums are built to generate huge profits if they are filled, but when they are at low capacity they lose money. This is the same caveat for music festivals, conferences, camps, and more. While these industries are hit hard by the pandemic, their void leaves room for growth.

DuBravac believes the biggest opportunity for innovation and growth will be creating large profits without the necessity of large masses of people.

Create more transparent systems.

If the governmental handling of COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that information turns into misinformation fast, and misinformation can endanger an entire planet. So, the biggest takeaway from the pandemic is to create systems that are uber transparent. Not only do companies and employees feel safer and more empowered when they know the ins and outs of the business they work for, but it also helps organizations pivot on a dime.

When information isn’t being guarded, it becomes much easier to pass along information to the people who need it, instead of having to fill in person A, B, and C based on the limited amount you have chosen to share with them.

Find cognitive-based jobs to ensure you are a necessity.

This rule of thumb was important even before the pandemic. DuBravac preaches that with the adaptations and strides being made in artificial intelligence, the best way to ensure you are a necessity to your company is to take on a cognitive-based job.

For years there has been a fear that artificial intelligence will take over industries and dismantle the current structures in place, leaving thousands unemployed. However, DuBravac has a very different belief around artificial intelligence. He believes A.I. will be complimentary to every industry instead of supplementary. While computers are great for data storage and sorting and patterned learning, nothing can negate the importance of human cognitivity.

DuBravac sees jobs based on routine tasks being taken over by artificial intelligence, just like distribution lines were revolutionized by machines back in the day. It’s a part of progress and although those jobs will disappear, new jobs will sprout up in their place.

However, if you never want to be in competition with artificial intelligence, try to train for and seek out a job that can only be done by a human — a cognitive-based job. Careers involving strategy and problem solving will always be left to humans since, so far, no computers have the cognitive ability to rival a human brain.

We may not be able to see into the future but the second best thing is to take the advice from someone who has studied unprecedented events like the COVID-19 pandemic. As we prepare for a return to normalcy that will probably look nothing like our old normal, DuBravac urges us to find innovation instead of panic in the unknown of our future. Use his four tips for heading into a post-COVID life to help you get on top of the new way of work.


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