We all wish that we could have a crystal ball to see the future because the way we think about tomorrow affects what we do today. Of course, this is not possible, but looking forward and trying to understand how work will get done over the next decade will help set your strategic roadmap shaping better working futures for the organisation and its staff.
The future of work will be influenced by technological development and shifting expectations of the workforce. But critically, business success will depend on the ability of the organisation and its people to cope and even thrive with change which is coming at an accelerating pace.
In this blog, we explore what the future of work entails and what leaders can expect from the future.
The influence of technology
Innovation in technology is a key driver of the future workplace. For example, AI is being increasingly integrated to businesses, bringing efficiency to repetitive processes which allows people to be used for more creative and complex work.
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Research from PWC shows that 37% are worried about automation putting jobs at risk – up from 33% in 2014. We can’t prevent technology from reducing jobs and potentially driving redundancies. However, we do as business leaders have a responsibility to our people. We can support them by training and reskilling them now for the roles that will be needed in the future.
According to ACAS, Businesses will need to step up and retrain workers at scale. This will also require educational institutions to rethink how we prepare young people for the workforce and the need for technical skills and experience. Government and policymakers also need to be thinking hard about how we help people to shift occupations so we don’t run the risk of a lost generation.
In the Government’s strategy to increase the number of people in work by a million by 2027, the Work and Health Programme, commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions, was launched to help people with a health condition or a disability or those who have been unemployed for more than two years to find the right job for them. Participants will work with an employment advisor who will support them through the process.
Shifting expectations of the workforce
There are several future of work trends that are already taking shape, to provide flexibility and maximise the benefits of the new ways of working in terms of employee satisfaction and productivity. One of the most significant trends to emerge from the pandemic is the increase of hybrid work, giving employees the flexibility to split their time between the workplace and remote working.
Whatever the future of work throws at us all, an engaged, healthy workforce provides a strong foundation to build upon. A clear well-being focus is here to stay and makes sense with a return on investment to business when it is considered and targeted. This well-being focus is more than providing fruit in the office, it is a holistic approach that supports the physical, emotional and financial needs of the business. For more information on this topic, take a look at our blog on wellbeing and engagement.
The expectation of flexibility on where, when and how work is done has grown exponentially and is now being seen in roles where it would not previously have been possible. The shift accelerated with the forced change of lockdown in March 2020, beginning with improved flexibility of location, but the definition of flexibility is becoming broader. Having a genuine commitment to allowing more flexibility in more creative ways that meet both employee and business needs is high on the priority list, particularly for candidates who are applying for jobs.
Resilience to change
Whatever happens, the coming change represents greater opportunities for technology to improve the way we work but organisations need to be ready for this. Resilience is the ability to thrive rather than just survive during challenging times. The biggest challenge will always be getting people to invest in and embrace change mentally and emotionally. This resilience is essential for adapting to new situations and overcoming challenges with confidence.
Change can be hard and in reality is the only constant, but it can be made easier when it is well-managed and led. Our bespoke leadership and management development programmes can give your people managers the skills that they need to lead the organisation through change effectively. Get in touch to find out more.