Conclusions for the Future of Work

We live in a time of volatility, complexity, and transition, and it is here to stay. Between technological advancements, demands for re-defined careers and for work–personal life balance, the next decade will see a transformation in the way we work, learn and explore. Sweeping global forces are already reshaping the workplace, the workforce, and work itself. The nature of work, even in the traditionally slow-changing government environment, is increasingly dynamic. Projects are multifaceted and interdisciplinary with requirements rapidly emerging in the midst of team-based collaboration in virtual environments. 

The shift is not just generational: most people are experiencing an increase in complexity and pace in a world that is more interconnected and dependent than ever before, and their expectations have changed. Our workforce is more geographically dispersed, the organizational structures are flatter, responsibilities are matrixed, and work structures are more complex. Individuals want modern places to work, both physically and virtually, enabling flexible and team-based work to thrive. To navigate this time of tumult and uncertainty, NASA will need new strategies for resilience and adaptation. 

The uniqueness of the compelling NASA mission, the experience of the existing workforce, and the promise of secure virtual talent marketplaces are the avenues where NASA may begin to uncover new opportunities to recruit top talent. NASA is embracing this change and accepting the challenge to innovate in order to retain, attract, and engage the next generation of talent. To lead this shift and re-conceptualize the Future of Work, NASA must begin intentionally developing a multidisciplinary talent pipeline, lean-in to a new definition of careers, and amplify the definition of working for NASA to meet the needs of ever-evolving work. At the same time, the Agency may fully leverage the benefits of skills-based learning and reward the growth and development achievements of interdisciplinary talent and agile teams. 

The response to this study is a call to action. Before this study was completed, the Talent Strategy and Engagement Division initiated steps to pursue policy revisions, identify new hiring authorities, create a new people analytics capability, implement an agency-wide talent marketplace and begin the design of an entirely new personnel system. The Talent Strategy and Engagement Division will remain focused on these bold efforts, while prioritizing initiatives that champion career creation, growth, and mobility based on the results and findings from this study. Each initiative or program will seek to align with goals to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities uncovered from this body of work. The resulting shift will be a tremendous step forward for both NASA and our people: it will provide employees with opportunities to design and grow their own experience, which will help attract and engage a thriving workforce; and it will help our organization identify and more efficiently address critical talents, skills, and capabilities needed across the Agency. Overall, this approach will require us to become more agile and customer-focused and shift structures from traditional, functional models toward interconnected, flexible teams composed of committed, engaged, and inspired people.