What will the future of work look like?
Pandemic-driven changes in working models have paved the way for a range of business challenges and opportunities, including how to offer employees the value and sense of purpose they expect from work and how best to attract, retain, and continually engage top talent.
As a result, the priority of workforce issues such as talent retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring, and hybrid working models has risen amongst senior leadership. As hybrid work becomes increasingly standard for knowledge-based workers, concerns are also growing that organizational culture is in danger of being diluted.
What are some future of work trends to look out for following COVID-19?
Hybrid work becomes mainstream: With 75% of hybrid or remote knowledge-based employees agreeing their expectations for working flexibly have increased, the future of work is undoubtedly here to stay. In fact, organizations that choose to go back to a fully on-site arrangement risk looking up to 39% of their workforce .
Well-being is a key metric: One thing that’s clear is traditional employee experience indicators like engagement surveys and turnover metrics don’t show the whole picture. Employee well-being is a crucial aspect of any effective EVP which organizations must deliver on.
Managers’ roles are changing: Fewer opportunities for spontaneous interactions in the workplace means leaders managing the future of work must be more intentional in establishing and developing relationships with their team members.
Gen Z wants in-person work experiences: Gen Z sees remote work as a way to continue building relationships established in person while maintaining a flexible work schedule. The needs of these younger workers will impact decisions around redesigned office spaces and remote employee engagement.
Shorter work weeks are a new EVP: If inflation continues to rise, employers cannot rely on increased compensation alone to attract and retain top talent. This is challenging organizations to consider introducing reduced hours to their EVP in roles where a shorter work week is possible.
Data collection is expanding: Gartner analysis reveals that 16% of employers are more frequently utilizing technology to monitor employees , including virtual clocking in and clocking out, tracking work computer usage, and monitoring employee communications in email and chat software.
Top Future Workforce Tools for 2023
Check out the top products related to the future of work based on verfied user ratings. The products are chosen from a mixture of relevant software categories.
Is the future of work remote?
While employee expectations around the ability to work flexibly have increased, it would be more apt to say that the future of work is hybrid. This is due to the fact that Gen Z employees in particular expect flexibility in their working style but also value in-person work experiences. In other words, to Gen Z, remote work is meant to continue connections built in person while still maintaining a flexible schedule.
What is hybrid remote work?
A hybrid workplace is one that includes a blend of remote and on-site workers as well as employees who spend some time working from home and some time working in the office in any given week. It is the future of work, and will require shifts in IT provisions and operating models.
Is a hybrid work model the future of work?
Yes. With 75% of hybrid or remote employees agreeing that their expectations around working flexibly have increased, hybrid working models are not only here to stay—they are becoming an expectation for employees. In fact, organizations who choose to go back to a fully on-site arrangement risk losing up to 39% of their workforce .
What are some hybrid working model examples?
Office-first: This model requires employees to work in the office most of the time while allowing them to work from home based on a set schedule part of the time.
Remote-first: In this mode, remote work is the default. Companies will still have office space people can occasionally visit, but operations and policies are designed with remote work in mind.
Partly remote: In this model, some teams are fully remote whereas others work in the office.
Flexible: This model allows employees to choose when they want to work remotely and when they want to work from the office. This is similar to a remote-first model except no operational or policy preference is given to either choice.
What are hybrid working model best practices?
Rethink how work is done: Identify processes, tasks, and activities that require dialogue using your in-person office experience as a benchmark. Analyze the success of process changes from work from home to amplify the successful experiences and brainstorm possible alternatives for less-than-successful tactics.
Address psychological needs: Humans are social creatures who crave connection. In the virtual workplace, too much contact can leave people drained, but not enough can leave them disengaged. Identify how people typically stay connected and develop a connection strategy amongst teams based on the results.
Reimagine the use of office space: Create an office environment where the commute is worth it and can be seen as a different and more valuable experience than working elsewhere. Make your office an interactive and engaging space that encourages people to utilize it.
Manage integrity and risk: Data integrity, security, and the reliability of internet connections all come into play in hybrid working models. Review employees’ workspace characteristics and needs, and evaluate them from a risk perspective. Reinforce policies around security, confidentiality, credibility, and liabilities. Put in place contingency and backup plans to prepare for known eventualities like power or internet outages.
Encourage team members to develop their own work-life harmony: Allow employees to creatively blend personal, family, and work obligations as long as desired outcomes are met. This includes allowing team members to negotiate the sharing of work obligations as needed.
Remote work and employee engagement software helps managers guide their team members to success and keep them engaged within hybrid working environments.
What is artificial intelligence (AI)?
AI applies advanced analysis and logic-based techniques, including machine learning (ML), to interpret events, support and automate decisions, and take actions. This definition is consistent with the current and emerging state of AI technologies and capabilities, and it acknowledges that AI now generally involves combining probability and logic to assign a value to uncertainty.
What is the impact of AI in business?
Artificial intelligence is employed in a variety of ways at organizations of varying sizes to perform a myriad of functions. AI helps these businesses make better, smarter decisions faster through machine learning and the development of neural networks .
AI can be used to automate everyday tasks such as processing payroll and filing paperwork, deliver better customer service in the form of AI chatbots, improve marketing strategies by automatically identifying areas for improvement, and streamline recruiting and hiring procedures by utilizing algorithms to quickly and effectively sift through candidate information.
What is the future of AI in business?
Aside from automating and performing basic tasks, AI in the future will be able to replace humans in a variety of roles ranging from individual contributors and middle managers up to senior leadership. These smart co-workers will only continue to improve as AI technology matures, allowing them to operate as independent team members with their roles defined by underlying algorithms.
AI and machine learning software use data science and predictive analytics to help streamline business processes and allow organizations to make smarter decisions with their data automatically.
What does the future workforce look like?
Hybrid and remote working models provide new ways for employees to collaborate productively, but employers must intentionally facilitate these new forms of collaboration. This can be accomplished with working modes that foster intentional collaboration in a hybrid world:
Working together, together: When teams are co-located, contributing to meetings in a shared space.
Working together, apart: When teams are distributed, but participating in virtual meetings.
Working alone, together: When teams are in shared spaces, but not working at the same time.
Working alone, apart: When teams are distributed, and individuals are conducting deep focus work.
Aside from embracing these four working modes to include and amplify collaboration between hybrid coworkers, use these principles as guides:
Chart collaboration not just by location, but also by time spent: Using the work modes above as guides, consider charting the effectiveness of your collaboration not just by location but also by time spent. Intentionally create opportunities for workers in various modes to collaborate and engage.
Democratize access to all four work modes, not just co-located ones: Many employees flow between different work modes at organizations that adopt a hybrid model. Some employees may not even have access to productive workspaces, so make it a priority to offer equitable access to each of the modes your company provides.
Rebalance synchronous and asynchronous work: Gartner data shows that asynchronous work modes are just as important as synchronous work modes . To properly address this, organizations should limit synchronous work to its more necessary functions, ensure that leaders are role models for flexibility, and let employees design their own work weeks.
Craft hybrid teams for greater agility, psychological safety, and equity than on-site teams: It will be imperative for organizations to set up teams for success in the new hybrid environment as team collaboration in a hybrid model requires careful navigation in order to see the greater levels of innovation and collaboration it makes possible.
What are some future workforce trends?
There will be a shortage of critical talent: With shifts in working models and changing expectations around employee value propositions (EVP), human resources management is under more pressure than ever to fill roles with critical skills to meet market needs and drive organizational change.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) outcomes could worsen: Hybrid and remote working models don’t guarantee all employees will benefit from improvements to EVPs equitably. For example, 76% of managers say on-site employees are more likely than remote workers to be promoted .
Turnover will increase: To start, 52% of employees say flexible work policies will affect their decision to stay at an organization . Hybrid work has become a baseline expectation for a growing number of employees, and turnover will continue to increase if that expectation is not met.
Recruiting, applicant tracking, and talent management software can all be used to optimize your recruiting process for the future by providing advanced insights and streamlining various human resources management tasks.
What is change management?
Change management refers to the methods organizations use to implement change to both internal and external processes. This includes informing and training employees on the change, supporting the change process as it occurs, and monitoring the effectiveness of organizational processes after the change to measure success and determine if further iteration is necessary.
What is the future of management?
While the future of management overall is uncertain, we can make some predictions based on data and current technological trends. For instance, the rise of AI technology and an increase in data-driven decision making, cost-effectiveness, and availability could potentially mean the end of middle management as soon as 2028 .
AI can scan large datasets and apply predictive analytics to provide actionable insights and help business owners make smarter decisions faster than a human manager can. These so-called “robo-bosses'' will also eliminate the need for multiple middle management positions in the same teams which lowers salary costs while also making teams more efficient. Finally, robo-bosses are available 24/7, making it easier to manage a global workforce operating in different time zones.
What are the future challenges of human resource management?
Battling increased turnover: With hybrid work becoming a baseline expectation for most knowledge-based workers, providing an environment that fosters flexibility while continually meeting changing employee expectations is imperative.
Ensuring DEI stays at the forefront: Since hybrid working models mean employees don’t all experience organizational benefits equitably, it’s essential that your planning strategy includes aspects that promote the same level of experience for both synchronous and asynchronous working modes.
Managing change: As the pace of technology and organizational change continues to quicken, workforce development will need to match that same pace. HR leaders should strive to remain agile in responding to changes in employee expectations while continuing to improve their organization’s employee value proposition.
Promoting both work-life harmony and successful business outcomes: There’s a fine balance between achieving business goals and promoting a healthy work-life harmony amongst employees. A successful planning strategy should consider these aspects carefully in order to keep employees engaged and satisfied while also ensuring desired outcomes are being met.
The following types of software can help you navigate organizational change, make smarter workforce development decisions, and take your HR strategies to the next level as we head into the future.
What is continuous learning?
Continuous learning is the process of gaining new skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. This includes taking courses, conducting independent research, developing role-based skills, and taking advantage of professional development opportunities within your organization.
Why is continuous learning important in the workplace?
In an ever-changing digital landscape, the ability to adapt to new skills and technologies is more important than ever, and will only continue to increase. In order for an organization to remain agile and ready to take on new challenges, employees must continue to gain new knowledge through continuous learning processes like reskilling and upskilling. When an organization fails to foster an effective learning culture, innovation stagnates and potentially suboptimal processes remain unchanged.
What is upskilling and reskilling?
Upskilling is a process that aids in continuous learning by providing development opportunities to minimize employee skill gaps. Upskilling primarily focuses on improving employees' existing skill sets so they can develop and advance within their current organization.
Unlike upskilling which focuses on expanding existing skillsets, reskilling places an emphasis on learning entirely new skills so employees can step into different roles with the same organization. This type of internal development contributes to a recruiting-from-within mindset which is especially important in the face of increased turnover and talent shortages.
With continuous learning initiatives like upskilling and reskilling becoming increasingly important, tools like coaching, mentoring, training and LMS software can help organizations ensure their employees have the knowledge they need to thrive.