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EP: 46 – Peter Cosgrove: The Future of Work Episode

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Peter Cosgrove


Peter Cosgrove is an expert in the World of Work & Future Trends of work. He is a renowned keynote speaker on topics such as the future of work, the future of skills and talent, recruitment, diversity & inclusion, Artificial Intelligence & the negative effects of the rapid technology acceleration. Peter is also a best -selling author of two books; Fun Unplugged and family Fun Unplugged. These books were designed and written to help families get off screen time and communicate & interact better together. Peter is a board Director on the 30% Club which promotes gender diversity and he is also on the board of Aware.

Show Notes

Podcast episode summary: This episode started with a reflection on our  relationship to work and moved into thinking about our habits and assumptions  about work that often go unexamined for individuals, teams and organisations.  It also spoke to the future of work and how more entrenched companies might have to  learn to pivot to survive. Peter believes that Covid-19 provided an opportunity to really look at our priorities and to re-shape our thinking about remote working, flexibility, talent and how to motivate talent as well as some behavioural concerns such as listening, empathy, and our use of time. This episode was searingly honest and provocative. The importance of critical thinking, dialogue and empathy between all citizens and intergenerationally was emphasised.


Points made through the episode:

  • Peter grew up in a family of 11 children, four brothers and four sisters
  • When people ask Peter what skills or career their child should pursue, he answers with the refrain “just do something” There is a misnomer that people will know or will have a Eureka moment when in fact often work is about finding and figuring things out.
  • Peter moved through a few career choices before he himself adopted a freelancer lifestyle.
  • We are still not quite comfortable as a nation to understand when people want to do something a bit differently from the 9-5 routine or when they do not subscribe to conventional titles for roles
  • Huge positive impact of Covid-19; Speed of Digital acceptance /Innovation and adaptation
  • Some people did however learn how to retire early.
  • Work is often so much of our identity and we can look to our Culture/Attitudes/Ideas about Achievement and Peer Competition for why it is often a race to the top.
  • Peter believes many of us do not question the why of work or our why for work.
  • We have not mastered the world of remote working -be smarter about using zoom, shorter time frames/using the phone/making connections and building connections and not just task.
  • Trust is a big challenge and continues to be a big challenge for more traditional concerns.
  • We have to question some of our assumptions about how work is working in the first place.
  • Be wary of employing software and technology that essentially means you are spying on your employees.
  • The Leaders Peter’s see in team situations are often not able to let go, see the culture they are creating and to allow for change.
  • The team dynamic on many of the teams he observes consists of teams who rarely engage in healthy debate, defer to seniority, do not listen and participate in group think and run with  many errant assumptions.
  • Young entrepreneurs and younger generations entering the field of work have many answers regarding culture/technology/ways of working but they do need to be listened to.
  • Peter shared some simple practices to encourage innovation at work.
  • Some big trends that Peter sees happening include ;
  • Change in how real-estate is consumed, Cities are not going to die but they will be consumed differently
  • Air Conditioning at work – many bigger concerns may be allowing people to remain remote working because Air Conditioning is proving a big issue in bigger edifices
  • Access to Global Talent will mean a further appreciation for remote working but also an increase in competitiveness between talent.
  • Decrease in bureaucracy; amazing how the HSE and Lawyers responded with Doc-sign for example
  • Employers need to pay attention to burn out and encourage employees to manage boundaries appropriately. Be smart about shorter zoom meetings, zoom mania and the use of time generally.
  • Encourage single task focus. Too much multi-tasking masquerading as productivity
  • Explore opportunities to give remote workers the same experience as workers working in the office. Be creative.
  • Basecamp and Automatic are examples of companies getting it right.
  • Important to acknowledge how innovative people can be when they have to be.
  • Companies need to look out 5 years from now and begin the work now of helping employees gain skills and experience to keep them relevant in the dawn of AI
  • Refocus by tapping into what gives employees energy and see productivity soar. Consider more mentors and budget for ideas and projects.
  • Peter’s books were born out of a big bug bear with technology. Technology is fabulous but it can also be addictive. Peter wanted to write a book that would encourage Parents and Children to start communicating together.
  • These books are used to support Children learn about the importance of reading, understanding philosophy, what it means to have rapport with another and general life skills. Our over dependence on technology is seeing many of the current generation of children lose important life skills.


  • Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode
  1. Herminia Ibarra: Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing your Career
  2. Peter Cosgrove
  5. Fun Unplugged and Family Fun Unplugged by Peter Cosgrove

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