The demand for technological, social, and emotional, and higher cognitive skills will rise by 2030. This demand will shift the future of the workforce. Many other trends will affect the future of work, for example, determining how the workplace will be reconfigured due to COVID-19 is an overwhelming task. The question is how workers and organizations will adapt?
How can organizations prepare for a future that is so difficult to define? What seemed like science fiction yesterday doesn’t look like that today. Automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robots are replacing many jobs that people have been building lives around for centuries. What seemed like a perfect home for many people is now inaccessible due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Face-to-face meetings are almost extinct. Almost every job interview is virtual.
These dramatic changes in today’s work environment have resulted in organizational and HR challenges that mirror, and have occasionally caused, massive social and political disruption. It represents a 21st Century version of the “race against the machine” that has influenced social change since the First Industrial Revolution.
Working habits have changed too. Just 10 years ago, people clung on to their full-time positions to help take care of their families. Workers were unproductive and unhappy, compromising family life for linear career progression. It’s all changed.
How work looks like now and going into the future? For HR managers to be able to manage to organize the new workplace effectively, we have to first understand the current trends that are existing and pushing for new thinking and approach.
First, we have to understand that, expectations of what work is and how it should be done have changed. Currently, we are having more and more millennials and Generation Zers enter the workforce. They have a different view of the world and the workplace.
Workers need more freedom and flexibility. Flexible work is no longer seen as a benefit but an expectation. The shift towards greater flexibility is not just benefiting younger generations either, it’s having a big impact on more experienced workers who need time to care for their families and themselves.
Almost every job will have some degree of flexibility built-in. Whether it’s a permanent recruiter working from home two days a week, or a remote accountant working exclusively from coffee shops, the work of the future will become more fluid.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the remote working trend. It forced those that thought it was impossible to realise it’s possible. Analysis by Gartner shows that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 30% pre-pandemic. A survey carried out by IPC also indicated that 43% of employees would continue to work from home if they are given an option.
To succeed in a world of increased remote work, hiring managers should prioritize digital agility and digital collaboration skills. HR must consider how the context of remote work shifts performance management, particularly how goals are set and how employees are evaluated.
Second, businesses are moving towards a mixed workplace where they have both permanent and contract workers. This working arrangement is becoming increasingly preferential, especially for younger workers who want to work on multiple projects to develop their skillsets.
Temporary contractors create high flexibility for organisations. By hiring the right people for projects as and when they see fit, provides greater agility and flexibility. These are essential components in our age of perpetual digital disruption.
A recent Gartner survey revealed that 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure. HR managers and executives should consider mixing their workforce with temporary contractors who bring a new world view and well versed with the fast-changing technologies.
Third, there is the rise of automation and AI. Over the next ten to 15 years, the adoption of automation and AI technologies will transform the workplace as people increasingly interact with ever-smarter machines. These technologies, and that human-machine interaction, will bring numerous benefits in the form of higher productivity, GDP growth, improved corporate performance, and new prosperity, but they will also change the skills required of human workers.
All technological skills, both advanced and basic, will see substantial growth in demand. Advanced technologies require people who understand how they work and can innovate, develop, and adapt them. Research by Mckinsey suggests that through 2030, the time spent using advanced technological skills will increase by at least 50%. We expect the fastest rise in the need for advanced IT and programming skills, which could grow as much as 90% between 2016 and 2030.
Several factors are and will keep pushing for a sudden change in the future of work. But one thing is for certain: the rate of change in the next 10 years will be rapid and uncompromising. Work will become more distributed, technology will exert a profound effect on the way work is done, and globalisation will enable businesses to hire people from across the world without having to meet them face to face. The question is, Are you ready?
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