With technology, artificial intelligence and digitalisation becoming integrated into our lives, the modern workplace is undergoing a series of changes. As these new developments become more common, the discussion surrounding the workplace of the future is taking a new form.
While a few expect machines to take over, some expect the future workplace to be a more relaxed and engaging environment that fosters employee growth and work-life balance. Others predict a combination of the two, forming an intriguing image of what the future of work will look like.
We asked over 1,000 people to share their insights on the future of work and, based on the findings of our 'The Future of Work' study (PDF), here’s a glimpse into the future workplace.
1. Employee Experience
Companies have started rethinking the way their employees experience their work and have begun shifting their focus towards creating more positive and impactful company cultures.
As the job market becomes progressively more competitive, employee experience will become the prime consideration in order to acquire and attain talent.
When asked about what they believed organisations should provide in the workplace of 2030, respondents of the ‘Future of Work’ CareerAddict study said:
- Flexible work options, such as remote work
- Progression and training opportunities
- Equality, diversity and inclusion
- Health and safety policies
- Employee benefits, such as parental leave, daycare plans and medical insurance
Overall, work-life balance is expected to take centrestage in the future workplace, as flexible work arrangements will become the norm for most companies. Indeed, virtualisation, cloud sharing and hyper-connectivity are expected to transform remote working from a company perk to a common practice.
Reduced work hours could also become a trend in the future. In fact, 68% of our respondents said that shortened worktimes could make them more productive. Three in four respondents also revealed that they would be willing to give up a percentage of their salary for this privilege; on average, people would take an 8.8% pay cut for a four-day workweek or six-hour workdays.
As companies of the future take this leap, a direct result of these changes will be an improved employee experience as well as higher productivity.
2. Automation and AI
Automation and artificial intelligence will become indispensable in the future workplace.
This is not to say that robots will be taking over but rather that they could play an integral part of company operations. As a result, repetitive tasks could be automated, and some jobs could be made redundant. In fact, our study found that one in three respondents believe their job could be replaced by machines in the future.
However, most people also seem to recognise the positive benefits of automation, as three in five people believe that machines and robots could improve their work performance. This comes as no surprise, as efficiency and output rates could skyrocket with automated processes.
According to Leah Weiss, a contributor from our study, automation could also benefit employees' work-life balance and could be 'a part of the solution to the rampant workaholism that so many individuals and organisational cultures are caught up in.’
Artificial intelligence tools will also benefit company operations in different ways. For example, AI could soon be essential to the hiring process, as it will be used to navigate through the talent pool and determine a candidate’s suitability for a role through machine-learning algorithms and natural language processing (NLP).
AI and automation could lead to job displacement for some but will, ultimately, create new jobs and industries. Employees will be saved from mind-numbing, tedious and mundane tasks and be expected to take on more creative, analytical and intuitive roles – something which will also result in more meaningful and engaging jobs with higher potential for progression.
3. Training and Reskilling
As automation and AI assume a permanent role within the workplace, employees will need to develop new skillsets to meet new expectations. Indeed, as technological advancements are mainstreamed into the future office, employees will need to be able to operate these new technologies with ease. As a result, training and reskilling will become an increasingly common practice for future companies.
- Analytical and innovative thinking
- Critical thinking
- Technology system analysis
- Complex problem-solving
Based on the findings of our study, 93% of people are willing to pursue training opportunities and sharpen their skills to meet new demands.
‘The Future of Work’ study also compiled an index that measured the readiness of certain demographics for the future of work. According to our findings, Millennials scored the highest out of all the other age groups, proving that they’re the readiest for the future of work and the skills that it will require.
Without proper training and reskilling efforts, technological unemployment could leave organisations scrambling to maintain a skilled workforce. But skills training won’t be the only thing employees will have to partake in. Diversity and sensitivity workshops will also be prevalent as employers strive to create a more welcoming environment for their staff.
Not only will all this allow employers to bridge the skills gap that could occur, but it will also lead to an encouraging increase of output and engagement.
4. Office Space
Along with all the technological changes that will occur in the workplace, the physical space of the office could undergo a series of adjustments. Companies will have to figure out ways to liven up the conventional layout of a cubicle-packed office, especially if they want to keep their competitors from poaching their top talent.
According to respondents who completed the ‘The Future of Work’ survey, companies of the future should invest in green spaces, stress-free work environments and sustainable offices.
Other changes could include:
- Ergonomic furniture and design: Built-in technology, ergonomic features, compact systems and a so-called living office design which could promote wellness and comfort at work.
- Flexible workspaces: Open space layout, quiet rooms for individual work and green areas for relaxation.
- Virtual offices: With the rise of remote work, physical offices could be made redundant. Companies will need to adapt into virtual offices that will save on operational costs and allow them to source talent from across the globe.
Talking robots and flying cars might be the first thing to come to mind when thinking about the technology of the future. While this might eventually be the case, the following might be a little more realistic representation of what technology will bring to the future workplace:
- AR and VR: Augmented reality (AR) will certainly be a game-changer, as it will help enhance projects and receive real-time updates. Virtual reality (VR) will also boost collaborative teamwork efforts, as people will be able to participate in virtual meetings with coworkers from all over the world.
- Holographs: There are two ways holographs will become integral to the workplace: one, by establishing virtual meetings with colleagues worldwide and, two, by rapidly producing, revising or editing documents and presentations.
- IoT: Companies could utilise the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to monitor employee behaviours, track productivity peak times and complete various tasks without the human touch (like turning off the lights if the room is empty).
Moving forward, organisations will need to modify their business practices to keep up with their competitors and all the developments the future could bring. Whether it’s adopting a flexible work schedule or instituting a more virtual environment, the future of work may dramatically change.
With automation and new technologies, companies will see a surge in productivity and efficiency levels, while employees could experience a better work-life balance.
So, while these changes could shift the dynamics and processes of many companies, it’s safe to say that the future of work will accommodate our needs and help us assume more meaningful and engaging roles within the workplace.
What do you think the future workplace will be like? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 12 December 2018.