With the world changing at an accelerating rate, businesses are also undergoing significant reformations. As technology begins to revolutionise the workplace, and with a new generation of talent entering the workforce, companies are starting to adjust their business models and corporate structures to keep up with a new wave of change.
In the imminent future, this could mean that several different aspects of a business could drastically shift. So, what will future companies really look like?
Here are 10 ways that companies of the future could change.
1. Digitalisation, automation and AI
Technology has infiltrated the workplace leading to the dramatic shift in processes and operations across all industries.
In the future, a combination of technologies (such as machinery, AI, cloud computing and blockchain technology) will make companies significantly more dependent on technology to enhance production levels, performance rates and productivity among its workforce.
This could mean that businesses will employ a digital workforce across several sectors and, as a result, repetitive tasks and entire jobs could be extensively automated for operational efficiency. With automation, then, will also come job displacement. In fact, our CareerAddict ‘Future of Work’ study (PDF) found that 1 in 3 people believe their jobs could eventually be replaced by machines. However, this could be countered by the creation of new roles for humans.
Companies will be able to adapt into intelligent enterprises, using technology and artificial intelligence as leverage for further growth.
2. Leadership structures
Technology isn’t the only thing that could change the corporate landscape. Indeed, the way companies are run could also face a significant overhaul as corporate hierarchies and leadership structures begin to change. It’s possible that middle management could become obsolete in the near future, with technologies opting in to monitor the performance of staff and offer feedback, thus eliminating the need for managerial roles.
Beyond automation and technologies, younger professionals entering the workforce could also signify a cultural shift within companies, which will redefine leadership structures, too. Justin Rix, a partner at Grant Thornton UK, stresses the impact a new generation could have on leadership structures, noting that younger employees ‘will need to be engaged differently and they won’t understand the hierarchical approach to leadership as they will be used to their voices being heard in a different way through social media’.
This, then, could signify the need for new leadership methods such as flat hierarchy and collective leadership, both of which will grant employees more autonomy and ownership over their work. Therefore, companies will have to trust their talent with their tasks and encourage self-management among teams.
3. Corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility has evolved into an important aspect of company identity and strategy. Over the years, CSR efforts have steadily increased, with more and more corporations taking initiatives that showcase their philanthropy and positive impact.
For many companies, CSR has also become a way to attract new talent and engage existing employees. Research has found time and time again that, for younger talent, a company’s CSR efforts are particularly important, even more than monetary incentives. A 2016 study by Cone Communications found that a whopping 75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.
As younger generations begin to make their grand entrance to the job market, companies will need to convey how they have a positive impact on their communities, building their reputation around their CSR, if they want to hold on to their new hires or attract them in the first place.
4. Intuitive roles and ‘superjobs’
With automation taking over repetitive and menial tasks, certain jobs could eventually become obsolete. In fact, a 2018 study by the World Economic Forum found that machines are expected to displace 75 million jobs. However, it’s also projected that 133 million new jobs will also be created in order to meet the demands of technology-driven companies.
While some roles could be scraped entirely, others could undergo a redesign of sorts and lead to the creation of what Deloitte describes as ‘superjobs’. This new job category would entail roles that require a combination of soft and technical skills and a mixture of responsibilities from multiple traditional jobs. This redesign of job posts could combine the strengths of humans and machines, leading to ‘significant improvements in customer service, output and productivity’ overall.
HR leaders will need to redefine roles within their companies and will be tasked with creating more meaningful and purposeful positions for employees. So, with the removal of repetitive and mind-numbing jobs, future companies will be able to provide more intuitive, creative and demanding roles.
5. Innovation and research
Beyond the technological and digital transformation that will traverse in the workplace, technology will also power innovation and research across a plethora of sectors.
Companies will use AI and automation to modernise their processes but also to address and resolve ongoing issues. From medical research to high-tech farming and educational systems, companies will have the capabilities to use technological advancements to create innovative infrastructure and find solutions to modern problems.
6. Environmental sustainability
Environmental sustainability has become somewhat a buzzword among different sectors and industries. But in the future, companies will need to take concrete steps towards sustainable practices by having and conveying tangible goals and actions – that is if they wish to keep up with their clientele and employees.
Numerous studies have found sustainability is a key factor for younger generations when it comes to buying from or applying to a company. Based on a Cone Communications 2017 survey, 94% of Gen Z and 87% of millennials believe companies need to address social and environmental issues.
Environmental initiatives, eco-friendly and innovative products, and ethical practices are all tangible objectives that businesses are and will be expected to embrace. And with climate realities becoming increasingly apparent, it will be impossible to continue downplaying these issues.
So, with millennials expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, and with Gen Z gradually joining in, companies will need to take drastic measures if they wish to remain a competitive option for jobseekers and consumers alike.
For many companies, this may prove to be a stumbling block, but others are already adapting to the current demands of their shareholders and taking solid steps to meet these demands.
7. Flexible work and virtual offices
During the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple corporations moved their operations online, which revealed the obsoleteness of physical offices for many organisations; it also provided a sneak peek into the future of work.
For many companies of the future, introducing remote work and virtual offices will be a no-brainer, as this will allow them to source talent from around the globe and will enable team members to work around their individual schedules.
Meanwhile, reduced working hours could also become a more common policy among organisations. With companies such as Microsoft Japan already testing the benefits of four-day workweeks, there could be a rise in organisations who provide flexible work options for their staff. HR leaders will probably meet little resistance to these changes; in fact, our ‘Future of Work’ study found that 74% of respondents agree that a 6-hour workday will enhance their productivity at work.
Nonetheless, automation and digitalisation could also pose negative effects on work-life balance. In fact, 1 in 4 respondents in our CareerAddict survey said it would negatively affect their work-life balance. Indeed, with technology making our work so accessible, regardless of where we are, this could create an always-on culture, leading to employees being unable to switch off mentally during afterwork hours. In the long run, this could have detrimental effects on your staff’s wellbeing.
So, while technology could liberate workers from the typical 9-to-5 regimen, giving them the option to work whenever they want, it could also subjugate them to their work. Consequently, corporate organisations will need to create a company culture that encourages its teams to sustain a good work-life balance while enjoying the benefits of remote work.
8. Reskilling and upskilling
Rising technologies will bring about a plethora of changes in the future workplace. And while this will most likely indicate higher production and better performance overall, it could also create a widening skills gap.
To reduce disruption caused by automation, companies will need to take responsibility for the reskilling and upskilling of their teams. After all, shiny machines and robots are pretty useless if your team is unable to operate them properly. Companies will need to create lifelong learning opportunities for digital literacy and professional development and encourage their staff to become agile learners.
By helping their teams acquire a new skillset and adapt to new demands, employers will ensure that their staff can work side by side with machines, mobilise new technologies and AI to their fullest potential, and achieve a symbiosis between the two in the workplace.
But reskilling trainings don’t end there, either. Companies will also be expected to endorse emotional intelligence workshops, wellbeing and mental health trainings, and cultural sensitivity seminars. As a result, employers won’t only help their workforce transition into a new era of work but also encourage a more vibrant, dynamic and safe work environment for all.
9. Diversity and inclusion
When asked about the key issues that companies should address by 2030, respondents of the CareerAddict study overwhelmingly indicated the need for equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
According to GoCoach, diversity at work starts with company values. Indeed, company values set the stage for how employees work, communicate and interact with each other. The identity of a business, then, is closely linked to the behaviours that are encouraged in the workplace.
By placing emphasis on inclusion and diversity, companies will also be able to engage their staff, inspire loyalty and encourage passion for their work through a more inclusive environment.
Plus, diversity will also be crucial to the technological efforts of a company. Writing in a LinkedIn post, Brian Humphries, the CEO of Cognizant, says: ‘When a business launches an AI-driven data initiative, it’s essential to involve human beings from a variety of cultures, backgrounds and perspectives to provide feedback to algorithmically produced outputs so the system can learn and improve over time’.
10. Talent retention and turnover
It’s predicted that companies will face higher turnover rates in the future. Indeed, in the US alone, an 88% increase was observed in turnover trends since 2010, according to the Work Institute’s 2019 Retention Report (PDF). With economic globalisation, increasing remote work opportunities and a competitive job market, companies will have to place significant efforts to hold on to their talent.
It’s also the case that younger professionals are more likely to move from one to job to the next every two to five years. With job hopping becoming an increasing trend among Millennial and Gen Z workers, this could mean that companies will need to re-evaluate certain aspects that could potentially increase engagement and yield loyalty from their employees. Some of these include:
- Opportunities for career progression
- Diversity and inclusion policies
- Meaningful roles and tasks
- Training and upskilling
- Flexible work options
Inevitably, technology and innovation will bring a wave of changes across company structures. With automation and AI taking centre stage in company operations, business leaders will have the opportunity to focus on more important matters: their human capital.
Indeed, it seems that with the rise of technological advancements, companies can place more emphasis on their teams’ engagement by offering them meaningful and impactful work in the future.
In what other ways do you think future companies could change? Join the discussion in the comments section below!