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Impressions from Silicon Valley (Part I): Major HR trends

Last week I spent four days in Silicon Valley & San Francisco. I took part in the 'Work in progress' inspiration tour of Nexxworks.

I enjoyed it so much that I would like to share some of my insights.

In this first part, I would talk about some important HR trends that are currently hot in 'The Bay Area' and that will undoubtedly have an impact in the near future.

Trend 1: From jobs to work

The first and perhaps most present trend is whereby companies break away from fixed 'jobs' but rather create 'roles' in relation to the work that needs to be done.

'My father had one job in his life, I've had six in mine, my kids will have six at the same time' - Frédéric Mazzella

The fact that a company has one fixed structure, is located in one place, revolves around one timetable and where everyone only has one fixed position for many years seems completely outdated. As well as the myths that still exist today about work, like: if you have good grades you will certainly find work, work is a life-goal, your job is forever and having a job will bring you prosperity.

These statements no longer hold: the world we live in today is far more complex and uncertain than ever.

We need to redefine the landscape of work:


  • From career paths to career portfolios
  • From fixed jobs to variable roles
  • From education and training to lifelong learning
  • From graduating to continuously acquiring new skills
  • And all of this in a context that keeps us ‘engaged’

We should also notice o the emerging grow of 'independent workers', 'freelancers' and 'on-demand talent'. During a presentation at Upwork (the largest platform for freelancers in the world), we heard how a company like Procter & Gamble could significantly improve its results and reduce costs by complementing their teams with specific skills through the use of very specific freelancers

Trend 2: Office anywhere

The second trend is in line with the first and shows a further trend towards location-independent working. When we arrived at Upwork, we were welcomed by a receptionist behind a screen who was actually at home somewhere in Wisconsin, in the middle of nowhere. It was a really special experience and less strange than you might think. In a place where the distances are enormous and the traffic jams are very high, this, of course, makes perfect sense.

Trend 3: Life long learning & upskilling

A third trend that also fits in seamlessly with the first two is the need for lifelong learning and continuous upskilling.

But what kind of skills we will need exactly in the future?

We should not be looking for that one "killer" skill set but rather for personal and unique mixes of talents and skills. After all, today, we don't know most of the skills we will need tomorrow.

We especially need people with a growth mindset and an enduring curiosity who find it comfortable to deal with uncertainty and continuous change and who can easily deal with new technologies.

That's why we don't just talk about IQ and EQ, but also about DQ. This is digital intelligence and is about dealing with the digital aspect, but also about leadership in the digital world, etc.

The theme leadership is further will be discussed in part 2

Trend 4: Automation & AI

And of course, we can't overlook this fourth trend. The advance of automation and AI will cause a major shift in the skills we will need in the future; from administrative assistants to software engineers, from accountants to data specialists but also from mechanics to HR specialists. Despite the fact that some of the work will be taken over by robots and machines, the (inter)human factor will become increasingly important. Using the correct software will allow us to focus deeper into this (inter)human factor.

So if there is one era when it is fantastic to be working on 'People & Organization', it is now. About time to take on this great opportunity!

Inspired by the presentations of April Rinne & David Abramson