Future of Work

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The future of work is one of the most discussed and debated topic of today. In this technology driven world, what impact automation technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will have on jobs, skills, and wages in the coming future. A new set of ideas and trends have emerged to create a new kind of industrial revolution. Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs, and changing the skills that organizations are looking for in their people. These momentous changes raise huge organizational, talent and HR challenges – at a time when business leaders are already wrestling with unprecedented risks, disruption and political and societal upheaval.

In 2018, 41% of companies have fully implemented or have made significant progress in adopting cognitive, AI and robotics 77% of these companies believe technology is creating ‘better jobs’, and only 20% see job reductions. 50% are retraining workers to work side by side with machines, and 67% of employees believe they must continuously reskill themselves to stay in their career, and 58% believe they will have a new career within five years.

Gazing into the future may seem speculative, or even whimsical, because experience tells us that predictions about what the world will look like years from now are destined to be inaccurate. But what if, backed with extensive and robust research, an assessment of the labor market of the future could serve as a basis for a debate around the challenges and opportunities individuals and businesses are likely to face?

This kind of exercise has never been more relevant as we seek to make sense of the future in a landscape of rapid and profound change. For example, the potential disruptive impact on jobs of advances in robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing is a focus for fierce debate. As the fourth industrial revolution unfolds, companies are seeking to harness new and emerging technologies to reach higher levels of efficiency of production and consumption, expand into new markets, and compete on new products for a global consumer base composed increasingly of digital natives. Yet in order to harness the transformative potential of the fourth industrial revolution, business leaders across all industries and regions will increasingly be called upon to formulate a comprehensive workforce strategy ready to meet the challenges of this new era of accelerating change and innovation. If current trends run a steady path, in 2030 the workforce will be multi-generational, older, and more international, with women playing a stronger role. While the highly skilled will push for a better work-life balance, many others will experience increasing insecurity of employment and income. As businesses shrink their workforces to a minimum using flexibly employed external service providers to cover shortfalls, a much smaller group of employees will be able to enjoy long-term contracts.

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Many commentators focus on technology and the role that automation is predicted to have on jobs and the workplace. We believe the real story is far more complicated. This is less about technological innovation and more about the manner in which humans decide to use that technology. The potential for digital platforms and AI to underpin and grow the world of work is unbounded. They already play an essential role in the development of all four worlds of work, matching skills to employer, capital to investor and consumer to supplier. This platform layer brings a digital value chain and commoditization and automation of the back office – but comes with warnings. While it can create a thriving marketplace, it can grow to take over the entire economic system. And with platform pervasiveness come vulnerability to cyber-attacks or wide-scale manipulation. Assisted intelligence, widely available today, improves what people and organizations are already doing. A simple example, prevalent in cars today, is the GPS navigation program that offers directions to drivers and adjusts to road conditions. Augmented intelligence, emerging today, helps people and organizations to do things they couldn’t otherwise do. For example, car ride-sharing businesses couldn’t exist without the combination of programs that organize the service. Autonomous intelligence, being developed for the future, establishes machines that act on their own. An example of this will be self-driving vehicles, when they come into widespread use. Some optimists believe AI could create a world where human abilities are amplified as machines help mankind process, analyze, and evaluate the abundance of data that creates today’s world, allowing humans to spend more time engaged in high-level thinking, creativity, and decision-making.

The four worlds of work in 2030 according to a report by PWC will be:

  • The yellow world humans. Social-first and community businesses prosper. Crowd-funded capital flows towards ethical and blameless brands. There is a search for meaning and relevance with a social heart. Artisans, makers and ‘new worker guilds’ thrive. Humanness is highly valued.
  • The red world innovation rules. Organizations and individuals race to give consumers what they want. Innovation outpaces regulation. Digital platforms give outsized reach and influence to those with a winning idea. Specialists and niche profit makers flourish.
  • The green world companies’ care. Social responsibility and trust dominate the corporate agenda with concerns about demographic changes, climate and sustainability becoming key drivers of business.
  • The blue world corporate is king. Big company capitalism rules as organizations continue to grow bigger and individual preferences trump beliefs about social responsibility.

It’s clear that automation will result in a massive reclassification and rebalancing of work. Some sectors and roles, even entire sections of the workforce will lose out but others will be created. Automation will not only alter the types of jobs available but their number and perceived value. By replacing workers doing routine, methodical tasks, machines can amplify the comparative advantage of those workers with problem-solving, leadership, EQ (emotional intelligence), empathy and creativity skills. Those workers performing tasks which automation can’t yet crack, become more pivotal – and this means creativity, innovation, imagination, and design skills will be prioritized by employers.

Governments, organizations and society should work together to develop a responsible approach and policies that govern the impact of technology and automation on jobs – including a clear discussion on the ethics of AI. Governments should engage with organizations developing the use of robotics and AI at all stages of policy making, to create a pool of thought leaders with a deep understanding of the interplay between technology and its effect on society. Empathy, creativity, and human skills are more important than ever. Our job is to design our organizations and jobs to empower people and the customer experience.

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Future of Work. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/future-of-work/
“Future of Work.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/future-of-work/
Future of Work. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/future-of-work/> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
Future of Work [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/future-of-work/

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