5 Predictions for the Future of Work
With the recent developments and the global trend of rethinking business operations, we could argue that the future of work is already here. The pandemic crisis has brought about a major shift in the way companies operate and forced them to find new ways to function efficiently.
In addition, the sudden changes in virtually all aspects of everyday life have also taken a toll on the emotional and physical well-being of employees, which added another issue to be addressed as employers adapt to newly-arisen circumstances.
In these uncertain times, we can know one thing for sure: the way we are used to getting work done will undergo significant changes, and those who keep up with the evolution of work will thrive.
Below are 5 predictions for the future of work, some of which we are already witnessing and are here to stay.
1. Remote Work Will Become More Common with Companies Investing in WFH Technology
Companies and employees alike will be quick to realize the benefits of working from home and adopt WFH policies not only as temporary measures but also as viable long-term plans. Some of the largest companies like Facebook and Twitter have already begun adapting by establishing permanent WFH positions, and others are going to be quick to follow.
In order for them to be effective while working from home, employers will need to provide their employees with the necessary tools both in terms of hardware and software. Thus, the funds companies will save on office and travel expenses are likely to be rerouted to equipping at-home offices with laptops, work equipment, and everything the employee needs for remote work, including useful software for an efficient virtual workspace.
Although the myth that optimal productivity levels can only be achieved within an office has been proven wrong time and again, it’s not difficult to understand how an employee working from home can feel isolated and disconnected from the rest of the team. This is why companies will need to address remote employee engagement, as another important aspect of permanent WFH positions, through various means.
A modern HR department is going to play a crucial role in this sense, as it will be up to them to implement the right means for maintaining and improving employee engagement and efficiency, as well as facilitate the transition into the new business organization model.
2. WFH Policies Will Allow for More Employee Diversity
The prospect of being able to hire personnel regardless of their geographical location is going to be most compelling for the majority of companies, as well as pave the way for a more diverse workforce.
In a world where the office location, size, and equipment, as well as traveling expenses, can pose an obstacle or make employment unfeasible either for the employee or the employer, most of the people who work for any given company also live near the HQ, and sometimes even move to a new city because of work.
Introducing permanent WFH positions will allow businesses to expand their employment network and hire the right people regardless of where they live, or whether they have certain needs that would be difficult to accommodate within the traditional office system.
The resulting ability to form teams consisting of members with different backgrounds and mindsets effortlessly will benefit companies immensely, as team diversity has been proven to be beneficial both in terms of creativity and achieving better results.
3. Office Design Will Undergo Changes
The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus may prove to spell an end to cubicles, cramped offices, and open-floor plans for good. With an increased number of employees assigned to WFH positions, the design of company interior premises is likely to focus more on privacy and social distancing.
The employees whose positions require them to be present at the office most of the time will also benefit from the desk spaces being converted into thoughtfully designed open areas. Additionally, it’s likely that most companies will try to design offices with more access to outdoor space and fresh air.
Finally, the remote-friendly offices of the future will also see some changes aimed at reducing the risk of disease spreading. There are many suggestions as to how this can be achieved, from the materials of desks and other surfaces to architectural designs.
Many offices have already replaced the materials of doorknobs, desk surfaces, and even furniture with antimicrobial metals or synthetic materials, and this trend is likely to take hold. Further, ventilation systems are also expected to be modified to purify the air before recirculating it to the office space, in order to reduce the risk of airborne transmission.
When it comes to other frequent touchpoints, such as control panels, keypads, and switches, we can expect the control over the corresponding systems to be transferred to phone apps, or to become voice-operated where possible.
While it is impossible to entirely eliminate the risk of infection at the workplace, the pandemic has shown us the importance of managing this risk. Apart from adapting to the increase in the number of permanent remote positions, this is expected to be one of the main focuses of future office design.
4. Work Organization Will Become Project-Centered
Traditionally, each employee within an organization has a specific role they fulfill day in and day out until they are assigned a new role based on their capabilities and seniority. However, this primary organizational model could soon be replaced by project-centered work organization, in which teams are formed for the purpose of completing a specific project.
This would entail breaking down the scope of work into tasks that can be matched to the team members with the appropriate skills, whether they are full-time employees working on-site or from home, independent contractors, or freelancers. Such an approach allows making diverse teams with employees from anywhere within the organization if their availability allows it, and results in a group of people with clear goals and the right skill set to complete them.
Innovative models of work and employee organization are going to be implemented more often than before in an effort to consolidate and fully utilize all the skills and knowledge every member of the organization brings to the table. The advancement of information technology and the reevaluation of our current work organization caused by the pandemic will facilitate the shift towards a more flexible business model.
5. Companies Are Going To Rely on Technology More than Ever
Considering everything said above, it is no surprise that companies are going to rely on technology to facilitate the new way of doing business. Even now, meetings and conferences have moved into the digital space, as employees and managers are getting accustomed to communicating virtually, while the entire work process is made possible by modern digital solutions.
In this process, the benefits and long-term potential of leveraging technology to streamline the work process and increase efficiency are becoming more and more apparent. What started as a necessity, might prove to be the next step towards achieving better results and a new stage in the evolution of work. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.
As businesses across all industries are getting better acquainted with digital tools and embracing the benefits of technology, it is hard to imagine going back to the way things were before in the future. When we add the competitiveness of the modern market to the equation, it becomes all the more likely that companies are going to put considerable effort into finding new ways of utilizing digital tools to gain an advantage over their competition.
The human ability to adapt and overcome is once again proving to be limitless in face of a major change to our day-to-day and work lives.
With the global crisis forcing companies to adopt a new way of functioning and make the most of the new opportunities, today is the time when the future of work is shaped. How this future is going to look for different industries remains to be seen, however, as many times throughout history, those who embrace the changes and recognize their potential early will thrive.
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