3 predictions about the future of work: from a glass half full

Ghina Fahs
November 21, 2022
3 predictions about the future of work: from a glass half full
Best practices

We’ve come to see an undeniable impact on the modern workforce since the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we continue to witness the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence in parallel with the dismantling of traditional working conditions, it would be helpful, and grounding, to identify what the future of work is going to look like for us.

In this post, we’ll go over what the future of work is probably going to offer the world, from working with robots to 4-day work weeks. So let’s dive right in.

  1. Human intelligence meets artificial intelligence
  2. Tables are turning—employers will need you more than you need them
  3. More room for freedom; flexibility and autonomy will be at the forefront 

1) Human intelligence meets artificial intelligence

Working alongside “robots” is not the sci-fi concept we once imagined it to be. It’s widely known that artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way we live and work, but to what extent, really?

Voice-based AI technologies such as Siri or Alexa are already swiftly scheduling our meetings and creating our to-do lists, but that barely scratches the surface. We now have AI that can analyze and summarize court documents for lawyers, co-write novels (this AI-written novel was nominated for a literary prize), create fascinating digital art, hear and detect gunshots, automate meeting minutes (don’t you just love this one?), win debates, and much, much more—including the ability to read human minds… but that’s a conversation for another time. With that being said, think about all the brewing potential that awaits on the other side of joining forces with AI. If we do it wisely, that is.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, “by 2025, 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines, and algorithms.” So, you can relax; robots aren’t going to steal our jobs, they’re just automating them. We’ll be working together, and the scope of work will be divided almost equally.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, when you read the words “future” and “work” in the same sentence, you likely didn’t think past AI, digitalization and automation, or tech start-ups, and while our technological advancements absolutely do play an enormous role in where we’re headed, there’s more to unpack here. So, setting aside what the future of work looks like with our artificial counterparts, let’s move on to what the future of work looks like for us humans.

2) Tables are turning; employers will need you more than you need them

You may have heard of “The Great Resignation,” a term coined in May 2021 by Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University. Klotz had predicted that there would be an upward trend in resignations following the pandemic, and he was right. The truth is, the pandemic was an ultimate reset that presented us with a golden opportunity to re-evaluate our lives and reflect on what needed to change. A big part of these changes were our jobs and career paths.

Here are just a few of the many “pandemic epiphanies” that drove the great resignation:

  • While most companies had previously thought remote work would negatively impact performance, research showed that there was actually an increase in productivity as people gained more control of their workday. Likewise, there was no way to un see all the time, energy and money that we saved when there was no longer a need to commute. We realized that remote work is quite feasible and cost-effective for both parties, and as a result, more employees are seeking companies that offer it.
  • Many of us were stuck conforming to systems and committing to industries we didn’t truly want to be a part of in the long run. The pandemic not only brought this to light but also gave us a sense of “If not now, then when?”
  • Burnout was at an all-time high, and with so much COVID uncertainty, we were realizing that our mental and physical health, along with our relationships and community, needed to be higher up on our list of priorities.
  • Some of us simply discovered that we would rather get our work done with our cats by our side while blasting our favorite music, and getting to skip the small-talk by the water cooler.

Simply put, people wanted to quit, and quit they did. A total of 48 million people quit their jobs in 2021, and in 2022 the number of job openings still outnumbers the number of hires by far. To add to that, employee turnover is costing companies more $$$ than they want to spend. Those that didn’t officially resign were  “quiet quitting” instead, and prioritizing more work-life balance. In any case, we got a much needed reminder that we want to be working to live, not living for work.

To sum it up, employees are becoming less replaceable and employers are looking for ways to retain their talents. As Klotz put it, “...for most of your time as an employee, the corporation has the power. When you decide to leave, that power shifts.” So, what will make us stay? Employers must adapt to the waves of change if they plan on catching up with the future of work. What this means is that employers will be paying a lot more attention to giving us what we’re asking for—and what are we asking for, really? We cover that in number 3.

3) More room for freedom; flexibility and autonomy will be at the forefront

Having free snacks and a foosball table at the office just doesn’t cut it anymore. Bean bags and Instagrammable neon signs don’t make up for the stress and cost of commuting to an office, having rigid working hours, and in some cases, toxic environments and working overtime. Employers need to step up their game if they want to retain and attract the best talent, and what employees truly want—besides higher pay and more purpose-driven careers—is the autonomy to work in a way that suits their personal lifestyle.

Klotz articulates:

“We have a fundamental need for autonomy. When you work in a new arrangement for 12 or 18 months, you completely adjust, and during the pandemic people adjusted to having far more freedom in how they arranged their lives and work. Once you give people this flexibility and autonomy and we adjust to it, we're not going to give it back easily.”

The good news is that some companies have been listening and acting accordingly. Although we’re still at an early stage, soon enough, the future of work can look like this:

  • Remote and hybrid work options. It works for some; for others, it doesn’t—but having the freedom to choose is key.
  • Greater work-life balance and prioritization of employee wellbeing, such as adopting a 4-day work week and investments in employee wellness and mental health.
  • Flexibility to choose our own hours; ditching strict supervision and rigid schedules, as long as we get the work done well and on time.
  • A commitment to DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion); being a part of a progressive organization, feeling like we can be exactly who we are without having to hide parts of ourselves.
  • More paid time off, including dedicated time for upskilling or volunteering.

And much, much more.

To conclude:

In many ways, we’ve already arrived at the“future of work”; it could be that we’re still lingering near the entryway, wondering whether or not to take our shoes off. But we’re here, and we have a much clearer picture of what to expect for ourselves and for the next generation.

Doing our work far more efficiently thanks to AI, feeling like we’re valued and our needs are being met, and getting more freedom to design our lifestyles? Sounds like we’re heading in the right direction.

Images sourced from unsplash.com

Share this:

Ready to take alfii for a spin?