Many factors are transforming our societies in countless ways and are also having an effect on our workplaces. As a result, the world of work is evolving at a fast pace and is driving organisations to challenge everything they know about work. Organisations need to prepare themselves for the next generation of employees and the inevitable changes this will bring to workplaces. Senior managers, HR professionals, policy makers and employees are all looking at how to adapt to the new world of work.
It is hard to believe that 13 years ago Facebook did not exist and 10 years before that we did not even have the web! So what does the future look like? The following gives an overview of the 5 key trends which are shaping the future of work, along with tips on how organisations and employees can start adapting to these realities.
1. Technological Change
Developments in digitisation, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and cloud computing are enabling us to work in countless new ways while keeping employees more engaged and productive. New technologies are also bringing great change to a number of fields, with driverless trucks, robots and AI systems, already starting to replace some professions. A case in point is Amazon; they are already operating with robots to select, stack, package and deliver items, with almost no human intervention. Change is coming and both employees and employers need to make the most of it and embrace change. It has become clear that technological advances will be the workforce’s backbone which enables everything else to function in years to come.
2. Mobility & Connecting to Work
Mobility has enabled us to stay connected with people and information at anytime, anywhere and on any device. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users globally (Ericsson, 2014), which also means that work is no longer just a place you go to but it is also something which you can carry with you in your pocket wherever you go. There is also the rise of the open talent economy - a collaborative, transparent, technology-enabled, rapid-cycle way of doing business, where ‘traditional’ employees will increasingly be joined by freelancers, contractors and crowd sourced talent, as well as robots and AI. Added to this, the ‘gig economy’ is also gathering ground, whereby people work on a freelance basis through online intermediary sites, such as Uber and Airbnb. All this is enabling the workforce to become more dynamic and is changing the structure of workplaces.
3. Globalization & Multicultural Workplaces
The world is getting smaller day by day, the language one speaks, ideas, culture, currency transactions and wherever you are physically located are all starting to matter much less. We are now living in a very small world thanks to technology and as a result organisations can start tapping into talent anywhere in the world. Given that there is a global struggle to source the right talent, this is a big opportunity for employers. Organisations must embrace globalisation, shift their mentality and move towards creating a multicultural workplace.
4. New Behaviours, Communication & Social Media
New employee behaviours are rapidly entering our organisations. For example, we are all more comfortable living a public life and sharing information, ideas, interests and other forms of expression on social media. We share our interests on Pinterest, have our professional history on LinkedIn, share pictures on Instagram, communicate on Whatsapp and engage in social interaction on Facebook. In fact, virtually every aspect of business behaviour has changed, including the way we communicate, collaborate, learn, find information and access technology. Many organisations still ban social media at the workplace. While sites such as Facebook can distract employees and prevent them from getting their work done, social media has too many benefits to ignore. This is forcing organisations to rethink and reimagine the way we work.
5. Millennials as the Majority Workforce
The millennial generation (or Generation Y), born between 1980 and 2000, already form 25% of the workforce and are expected to comprise 50% of the global workforce by 2020 and 75% by 2025 (PwC, 2011). Millennials are a talented and dynamic generation, who will shape the culture of the 21st century workplace. Being able to understand, attract and retain the best of this generation's talent is critical for the future of any business. Millennials are digital natives with technology dominating every aspect of their lives, so it is no surprise that they have specific expectations about how technology and social tools are used at the workplace. Millennials look for and want to work in ways which reflect the time we live in; they look for loyalty, social tools, frequent feedback, work-life balance, career progression and strong employer brands. Although millennials are driving organisational change and reshaping the workplace, one must keep in mind that the ‘future employee’ is anyone who is willing to change their behaviour and mindset to adapt to the changing workforce, which means that it doesn’t matter if that person is 20 or 60.
The future is unlikely to eliminate the need for work. So rather than putting a break on human progress, organisations must focus on ensuring they are well equipped for the coming decades. It is vital that businesses are not merely afloat but ahead. Some of the most successful companies such as Google and Apple are innovative employers and are never restrained by ‘how things used to be done’. In light of change, organisations need to embrace new styles of work and have a strategy for the future; as outlined by Alan Lakin: “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now”.
So what do the jobs of the future look like?
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Generalist Recruitment Specialist