Time to help ourselves adapt to the tidal waves of change, expectations and enforced restructuring, to keep businesses and skillsets relevant moving forward.

Change is inevitable. If anyone is in doubt about the necessity of transformation, the COVID-19 pandemic should have convinced him or her otherwise.

In the education sector, the transition from on-campus courses to an online format has all but taken the resistance out of the trend towards blended learning through the use of technology. Remote working and virtual collaboration are the mainstay of a mandatorily socially-distanced business world.

Digital transformation is suddenly accelerated amid lockdowns, quarantines and other social distancing measures. It’s the key to ultimately survive and thrive in the digital economy of today and tomorrow.

What does this rapid pace of change in the COVID-19 era mean for employees and employers in both the immediate and distant future? What will tomorrow’s workplace and workforce actually look like?

I’s time to help ourselves by exercising leadership and innovation in a time of change – before the future of work overtakes us and leaves us in the dust. But where do we start?

DigiconAsia has the benefit of gleaning some insights and strategies in an interview with Melanie Cook, Managing Director, Hyper Island (Asia Pacific).

DigiconAsia: As organizations continue on the never-ending business transformation journey to stay relevant and successful, technological innovations have played a business-critical role. How, from your perspective, has this impacted today’s workforce and the workforce of the future?

Cook: Fundamentally, transformation is change. Through the ages, humankind’s default is to fear change as this fear kept us safe. So even though technology has given us remarkable superpowers in the workplace, we also fear the uncertainty it brings.

The economic analysis reflects this dichotomy. The dystopian view predicts AI will destroy jobs as we know it, leaving swathes of the workforce relying on a universal income to survive. Then you have the technology optimists who predict a massive increase in productivity because of technologies like cloud computing.

I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle, and the survivors will be leaders and employees who adopt an experimental mindset.

Leaders have the enormous challenge of helping employees to work, bond and learn remotely, within the limitation of necessarily stringent technology security protocols. The smart way to find the right way is through experimenting.

If you take Hyper Island as an example, in March 2020, we faced what felt like an impossible challenge. We had to move our accredited face-to-face courses online. And since we believe in learning-by-doing, our learners spend 20% of their time acquiring knowledge, and 80% of their time building, experimenting, debating, scribbling and playing in the physical space.

Now, how on earth were we going to translate this to the online space?

In truth, we didn’t. We went one step further. We decided to take a Human-Centered Design approach to uncover the real problem. It isn’t about how we move our offline learning online. We got creative about how we might help unsettled professionals develop and learn online while the world-as-they-know-it turned inside out.

We experiment with our academic and business models to meet our learners’ needs in a remote-everything world, and we are learning how to build a digitally-enabled school.

We now have the ‘survive’ box ticked, next on the list is to ‘thrive’. We will spend that latter half of this year figuring out how AI can scale and personalize learning journeys so that faculty can concentrate on learners and not digital choreography. We want to use cloud computing to go beyond storing our WebEx and Zoom sessions and data analytics to make micro improvements and to predict what learners will need.

Every idea here will involve faculty getting closer to technology and this is where the most significant change will lie.