Greater flexibility, diversity and use of AI… Here’s how today’s trends and technologies are shaping the evolution of the workforce of tomorrow.
To build the workplace of the future, we need to first understand the workforce that will be using it. How will it be different from the workforce of today? Which emerging trends will shape how it looks? And what will become the new normal?
Below are five predictions showing the evolution of today’s workforce into something more suited to the new world of work.
Today: 9-5 in office
Tomorrow: endlessly flexible
Even before the pandemic forced companies to rapidly switch to remote working, many businesses already had a flexible working policy established. Following the events of 2020, the appetite for flexible working has increased further, with respondents to a new study saying they would prefer more of it after benefitting from a better work-life balance, increased productivity and improved wellbeing during lockdown.
Post-lockdown, many employers want to make remote working a permanent fixture, with 74% of firms planning on maintaining the increase in home working. More than half plan on reducing their long-term use of workplaces.
But it’s not just about the where – it’s also about the when. There is a growing call for a four-day week, with 79% of business leaders open to the idea – something that has been trialled by many companies during the pandemic.
A distributed workforce means companies have the option to recruit from a wider talent pool, leading to greater diversity and ultimately more profitable businesses. Flexible working is particularly beneficial to parents, easing the transition back to the job after a long period of leave. More than nine in 10 working parents and carers want their workplace to retain flexible working post-Covid.
There are also more opportunities for workers with disabilities. Many have benefitted from working from home during the pandemic and would like to continue to do so.
Increased remote working also means employers can look beyond borders for the best talent, untethered by geographical constraints. Most employers that advertise a job as remote-friendly commonly see a 3,000% increase in application rates.
Today: part of a hierarchy
Tomorrow: part of a network
Organisations are responding to technological advancements that have had a major impact on the way we work – such as the rise of remote working – by restructuring the workplace.
Former hierarchical structures, where information was passed through the business from the top down, are now giving way to ‘flatter’ structural models or networks, which encourage more collaboration and communication across the organisation. In fact, 77% of organisations consider it important or very important to adopt or maintain networked organisational structures.
The so-called ‘holacracy model’, in which authority and decision-making are distributed throughout a group of self-organising teams rather than reserved for senior leaders, has already been adopted by companies such as Zappos, Whirlpool and Cisco. This flexible, team-centric approach will allow organisations to respond and adapt quickly to the rapidly changing global business environment of the future.
Today: using tech
Tomorrow: augmented by tech
Technology will transform the nature of work and the workplace itself. A McKinsey & Company study found that about 30% of tasks in 60% of occupations could be computerised and the Bank of England’s chief economist said that 80 million US and 15 million UK jobs might be taken over by robots.
However, tech is also expected to help employees in their jobs rather than replace them. The impact of AI technologies on business is projected to increase labour productivity by up to 40% by 2035 and enable people to make more efficient use of their time.
It’s also expected to create new roles, from app development to piloting drones, opening up opportunities for workers. High-speed mobile internet, artificial intelligence, widespread adoption of big data analytics and cloud technology are considered some of the most important innovations.
Is your business equipped to welcome the workforce of the future? Find out how Spaces can help you prepare today.