The future of work: themes, trends and technologies


IIt’s no secret that the workplace has been changed forever by the pandemic.

Employers have different expectations of their workers. And employees are demanding substantial change from their managers. It is a time of conflict and confusion, but one that has enormous potential to disrupt the status quo and introduce a pattern that could provide a blueprint for generations to come.

As companies try to find a balance, things keep changing. But even as this settling occurs, a number of patterns emerge.

Flexibility

Having learned that they can be just as productive at home, workers are demanding more flexibility in their schedules and this is unlikely to change. Hybrid workplaces are likely to be one of the biggest permanent changes to the workplace of the pandemic. While some companies will require employees to return to the workplace full-time, these will likely be in the minority (service industries excluded).

However, the changes could go far beyond splitting your work week between home and the office. A report from Adobe found that the number of workers who say they want full flexibility in their working hours has risen from 17% before COVID to 51% today, which could jeopardize the traditional 9-5 days . And several companies are experimenting with a four-day work week. So far, the results are promising. A Microsoft study in Japan, for example, found that productivity increased by almost 40% when this change was implemented. (Energy costs, meanwhile, were down 23%).

Mental Health

With the devastation the pandemic has wrought and severe disruption in every corner of people’s lives, workers are paying more attention than ever to their mental health. Researchers estimate that each COVID victim leaves behind 8.9 next of kin. That’s nearly 9 million mourners to date.

Successful companies, in the future, will have policies in place to help anyone struggling with mental health issues and help them get treatment, without any penalties in the workplace. Employers are encouraged by the American Psychiatric Association to increase access to mental health options such as therapy, and encourage employees to take advantage of them and eliminate any stigma.

Acknowledgement

Generation Z will be an important part of the future of work. More than 30% of the planet’s population falls within its parameters and these people, born after 1996, see the world very differently from millennials or baby boomers. It is therefore all the more important that companies learn to speak their language.

Gen Z workers expect more frequent communication with their manager, perhaps as much as daily, according to the Center for Generational Kinetics. It might end up taking less time overall, because instead of a 30-minute shared coffee, for example, a quick one- or two-minute check-in each day might do the trick.

What is important for them, and for other workers, is to be recognized for their contributions and to work for an empathetic leader. In a world of work where teams are separated, it is more important than ever that they feel appreciated for their work.

Recognition also extends to acknowledging and accepting underrepresented groups in the workplace, including minorities, transgender people and women, and striving for greater diversity in leadership roles and other positions. of high rank.

Automating

The ongoing labor shortage is accelerating companies’ automation plans to keep their operations running smoothly. Robot orders in North America rose 37% in 2021 from the previous year, according to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), totaling nearly $1.5 billion worth of machines. In the third quarter of last year alone, companies ordered 9,928 robots worth $513 million.

A McKinsey study, meanwhile, predicts that around half of all existing work activities could be automated over the next few decades, with more than 50 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things by 2025. And the World Economic Forum estimates up to 85 million jobs could be displaced by automation by 2025, but says an additional 97 million positions will emerge. This impending change – and the job changes it will bring – is being called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

Teleconference

We’ve all grown to hate Zoom over the past couple of years, but it’s not going anywhere, especially as the hybrid work environment takes hold. Neither is Microsoft Teams or any other conferencing software we are used to using.

While it may not be as ubiquitous in our daily lives as it was in 2020 and early 2021, expect teleconferencing to play a bigger role, especially as companies are reducing their travel budgets in the coming year.

The world of work is changing, but the good news for employers is that many of the skills and trends that will be at the forefront of the future are ones they have had to hone over the past couple of years. That should make the transition a bit easier. less painful for everyone.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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