ARENA #7 - The Future of Work

Published on July 25, 2019 by Julie Dhont

Continue reading

Two times a year, we invite everyone to our ARENA. This is a free event packed with inspiration, learnings and hands-on action on some of the most relevant design topics of today and tomorrow. Every event we bring hot topics to the ARENA and invite two champions to talk about their expertise and experiences.

The focus of past editions were Human-centred Organisations, the Internet of Things, AR & VR, Artificial Intelligence & Robotics, Blockchain, Education, and so on. For our 7th edition the topic was: The Future of Work.

If you have an interesting suggestion as a topic, don't hesitate to contact us. We would like to receive your tips!


Increasing automation in our workplaces, demographic shifts and a customer-based economy are drastically changing the way we work. In order for people to keep up we will need a very different set of skills, particularly those that are unique to humans: imagination, creativity, curiosity, emotions and social relationships. How will we bring this skills transition into our jobs, and which implications will this have for employees, employers and organisations?

First we welcomed Julianne Coughlan into our ARENA. She brought an interesting case of Cork County Council, the authority responsible for local government in County Cork, Ireland. During her talk, she elaborated on the transformation she and her colleagues went through during the implementation of the Service rePublic. This is a service design and innovation centre with the mission to help people to have better lives, by delivering the best services for all. They operate as an independent umbrella department within the government. In this way, they can work with all departments across Cork County, to transform the way services are delivered.

In her talk, she concluded that people are the instigators for transformation, not technology. Innovation is everywhere. The trick is to recognise it, nurture it, find a way to connect it, enable it to be copied or expand and show the impact of what it does. According to Julianne, this will be a determining factor in the future of work.

As our second speaker, we welcomed Eline Ermens from McKinsey Design, a design and innovation consultancy based in Stockholm. In her talk, she explained how organisations can get ready for the future by humanising jobs, with a focus on employee experience. The robots are already here, and people are afraid of them. But the real problem here, aren’t the robots. It’s that we are wasting human potential. Studies say that 72% of people aren’t engaged at work. Eline stated that we can make our jobs more meaningful by focussing on our humanity. We should concentrate on our human capabilities such as creativity, compassion and critical thinking.

In case you missed something or would like to see the presentations of our champions again, we have uploaded them here.


We really want to thank our delightful two speakers, Julianne and Eline, we were honoured to welcome you into our ARENA. It was lovely getting to know you both, and we hope to see you again.

We also want to thank our partner, the Cronos Group for sponsoring the event, the venue Watt The Firms for the lovely cooperation, the organising team and everyone that helped making this event possible.

And of course, this edition wouldn't have been so great without all of you! Thank you all for joining us in the ARENA. We hope to see you all at our next edition. Subscribe to our mailing list (at the bottom on our home page) and we'll keep you up to date.

See you next time in the ARENA! 👋

Do you want to offer your customers great services and experiences too?

Contact us!