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LaRC 2050—A Look at Tomorrow's Workforce
By Ed McLarney and Dan Cherry, with contributions from Eileen Spillane

Langley Research Center (LaRC) human resources and information technology leaders have teamed to explore and shape how work will be performed in 20 to 40 years at LaRC, from both employee and technology perspectives. The team’s vision is to shape near and midterm efforts to create a more progressive research environment.

This team will conduct research into long-term way-of-work studies in industry, academia, and Government to help create a vision and overarching framework for LaRC. Some of the primary goals of this team include the following:

  • Seeking out input from interested visionaries across the Center to explore different possibilities for work methods and environments;
  • Combining research examining people, processes, and technology;
  • Conducting benefits analysis of the options;
  • Exploring methods to communicate, collaborate on, and realize the future;
  • Finding focused opportunities for scaled implementation of near-term prototypes and pilots; and
  • Conducting continuous future-of-work learning through an iterative approach.

The LaRC future-of-work effort builds on the previous “21st Century Lab” project, with interest in (but not limited to) the following:

  • collaborative culture;
  • innovation;
  • telecommuting, telepresence, virtual reality, and distributed teams;
  • opportunities generated with advanced cognitive computing;
  • tradeoffs between computational simulation and physical infrastructure;
  • embracing a global, virtual technical community;
  • invention, ideation, and problem-cultivation engines;
  • knowledge propagation and intelligence gathering;
  • other mission support areas to provide a consistent system of systems that enable cutting-edge research;
  • training and experience in tele-education; and
  • information technology security advances required for all of the above.

LaRC 2050 is nested within a larger LaRC mission success campaign to deliver on today’s commitments and prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities. The mission success campaign considers emerging advances in collaboration, learning, and revitalization. Revitalization subcomponents are the future of work and a sister effort in long-term infrastructure revitalization.

Change is continuous, and we at NASA LaRC would much rather embrace change, steer it, and shape the future than simply be bystanders. Proactively shaping our future work environment enables us to maintain our competitive edge and chase the dreams at the heart of NASA.

The article is intended to provoke discussion about this topic. Please share your thoughts by submitting comments to LaRC-DL-OCIO-Feedback@mail.nasa.gov.

About the Authors: Ed McLarney is the LaRC Chief Technology Officer for the Chief Information Officer. Dr. Gamaliel “Dan” Cherry is a Human Resources Specialist for the LaRC Office of Human Capital Management.