The five trends shaping the future of work

If there’s one thing that we can all agree on it’s that the world of work is changing…quickly.

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If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the world of work is changing…quickly. 

The way we have been working over the past few years is NOT how are we are going to be working in the coming years. Perhaps one of the most important underlying factors driving this change is the coming shift around who drives how work gets done. 

Traditionally, executives would set the rules and pass them down to managers who, in turn, would pass them down to employees. But as Dan Pink aptly put it: “Talented people need organisations less than organisations need talented people.” 

In other words, employees are now starting to drive the decisions and conversations around how work gets done, when it gets done, who it gets done with, what technologies are being used to get it done, and so on. 

The next few years will see dramatic changes. But why now? What are the key trends that are driving this new future of work? There are five of them, as seen below, and before exploring anything else around the future of work, it is crucial that we understand these.

New behaviours

Ten years ago, if someone had told you that you would have all this information about yourself public for the world to read, see and hear, you would have said they were crazy. Now look at where we are: we are so much more comfortable living more public lives, we build communities, share, communicate, collaborate, access information, and shape our personal experiences. 

All these new behaviours are cascading over organisations, which is forcing them to make changes.

Technologies

Big data, the cloud, the internet of things, robots, automation, video, collaboration platforms and other technologies are changing the way we work and live. 

The cloud puts the power of technology into the hands of employees; robots and software are forcing us to rethink the jobs that humans can and should do; big data gives us insight into how we work and how customers transact with us; and collaboration platforms give us the ability to connect our people and information together anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Millennials in the workplace

By 2020, millennials are expected to make up about 50% of the workforce, and by 2025 this number is projected to be 75%. The important thing about millennials is not the fact that they might bring new approaches, ideas, values or styles of working, it’s that there are going to be so many of them. 

They are, by all accounts, going to be the largest generation ever to enter the workforce. This is a generation of employees with technological fluency who are willing to live at home longer until they find a company they truly want to work for. 

In other words, organisations must shift from creating an environment where they assume that people NEED to work there to one where people WANT to work there.

Mobility

It is absolutely fascinating that, living where I do, I can access virtually the same type of information as someone who is living in a remote rice paddy field in China. Today, where you are located is starting to matter much less when it comes to being able to do your job. 

As long as you can connect to the internet, the chances are that you can access the same people and information as if you were working in an office building. We are connected anywhere and everywhere we go, whether it be 35,000ft in the air or in a home office.

Globalisation

This is essentially the ability for organisations to work in a world where boundaries do not exist. The world is becoming just like one big city. The language you speak, the currency you transact in, and your physical location are starting to matter less and less. 

You can work in San Francisco, yet have clients in Beijng or Melbourne; and the same goes for employees. Boundaries to working with anyone, anywhere are disappearing and this trend can only continue.


Jacob Morgan is an author, speaker and futurist. His latest book, The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders and Create a Competitive Organization, explores how the workplace is changing.

Download an exclusive extract of Jacob Morgan's book, The Future of Work, here.

This was last published in November 2014

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For me technology it probably my top pick. IT's amazing at how fast some of it become outdated today.
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