We are in an era of constant technological progress, with new and better solutions emerging every day to solve every conceivable problem. Industries around the world have used technology to improve their processes and regain profits. Companies have had to adapt to an ever-changing work environment – increasingly online and hybrid – to ensure business continuity, and have changed their trajectories based on their understanding of the future of work.
What future for work? It is simply a projection of changes in our definitions of work, workers and workspaces. The focus is on leveraging technology to redefine who does the work, how it gets done, and where.
Here are some trends that employers and experts say are inevitable:
While it could be argued that the pandemic has created the need for adaptive remote workspaces and better work-from-home opportunities, the shift to workplace flexibility – supported by technological advancements – is not not a recent phenomenon. The pandemic has simply accelerated this adoption of dynamic work environments due to unavoidable conditions. This need to keep the ship sailing meant companies had to accept employees working from anywhere at any time, which sought to re-evaluate what the 9-5 working life work narrative means.
Given that remote working has become popular due to its relative ease and cost-cutting capabilities, it’s reasonable to assume that it’s the new norm in most industries. So much so that it also dictates the career decisions of most employees – especially Gen Z and Millennials. However, a successful digital workplace needs the right mix of flexible, secure and responsive technologies, that require constant investment. Several companies, especially technology companies, have thus moved to a fully remote work environment and plan to continue this strategy for the time being by investing heavily in maintaining operations.
Remote work has also pushed the boundaries of location and technology, further increasing the workforce. So the trends that have emerged from this massive pandemic disruption are sure to reshape the way we work in any capacity.
Experts believe that the future of work involves the automation of processes and events using technology and digital platforms. This ensures that employees collaborate using AI tools and technology to innovate and deliver effective results.
These tools include meeting and chat software, robotics, analytics software, developed equipment, AI-powered chatbots, and more. The focus is on harnessing the power of technology to automate small, regular processes so that employees can focus on larger organizational goals, increasing their engagement and productivity.
However, not all work can be automated or done remotely. Jobs in healthcare, administration, retail, sports, travel and leisure are among the many sectors with high physical proximity, where full remote working or automation is either impossible or unable to deliver effective results. What does this mean for their future then?
A McKinsey Global Institute report in 2021 divided more than 800 professions in eight target countries into ten domains by quantifying the level of proximity required by each profession. The report identified that occupations that required high levels of physical closeness were “likely to see greater transformation post-pandemic”.
However, the report also noted that some remote work is best done in person and that activities such as critical business decisions, onboarding and providing feedback “can lose some effectiveness when done remotely.” .
This encouraged the concept of hybrid workspaces.
Hybrid workspaces and flexible working arrangements
Companies are now considering moving to a hybrid working environment – moving some projects entirely online to increase efficiency and keeping the inevitable tasks in close proximity in person. Scheduling remotely using technology tools to execute in-person events is a common collaborative approach taken by many businesses today.
Several companies also let their employees choose the days they can work in person, if they wish. They are also putting systems in place to ensure that employees receive all the support they would need to set up their remote workspaces. Another emerging trend is adopting an asynchronous workflow to accommodate all employees.
Employers are also implementing flexible leave policies and no-questions-asked automatic approval on leave requests to empower employees in a culture of trust. It also ensures that employees are able to better manage their time as they have control over their schedules and the power to make those decisions.
Experts believe that since hybrid working is the go-to approach in the future, companies need to develop maximum supportive policies that encourage the adoption of hybrid working among employees. How these policies include nuance and ensure commitment from all employees differs from company to company.
Dell Technologies identifies a few tips CIOs need to keep in mind to build a successful and sustainable digital workplace strategy. These are:
01. Deliver and support a high performance, secure and intelligent PC experience for their employees.
02. Enable seamless collaboration through shared productivity devices, cloud apps, and other tools to increase employee productivity.
03. Adopt flexible payment technology and solutions, as well as delivery-as-a-service models to control costs. (Read more here)
04. One scalable hybrid cloud strategy that improves IT visibility and oversight across all technologies in the organization to maximize cloud consistency and flexibility.
05. Ensure that the digital workspace environment is completely secure so that all employees can access the tools they need to perform their duties smoothly. (Read more here)
Focus on employee efficiency and growth
Today’s market is talent-driven, which means employers need, now more than ever, to focus on hiring the right talent and providing them with advanced training, retraining and plenty of opportunities to grow and grow. develop within the company. A ESG study commissioned by Dell Technologies, Intel and VMware in March 2021 identified that leading organizations (among 2,000 IT decision makers) experienced a 21% increase in employee productivity, 62% more than organizations struggling to support remote work.
Employers should be open to the possibilities of emerging new jobs and new career paths for employees and use foreign labor where appropriate. Companies should strive to increase inclusion and collaboration within the talent pool to achieve better results.
The future of work will require unlearning old work patterns and a focus on young people in leadership positions. It will bring a new wave of understanding of what flexibility and efficiency will look like in different businesses.