- As we approach a new decade, here are some of the ways in which technology will impact the workforce, and the workplace.
- Among them, more companies will incorporate a ‘digital workforce’ that utilizes AI, robots, and augmented reality.
- Increased digitization should not be feared; greater automation takes over repetitive tasks and allows employees to focus on their creative ‘human’ skills.
The world of work has drastically changed over the last decade. Technological advances, from smartphones and light laptops to artificial intelligence and automation, have transformed and revolutionized business practices and the way people work.
As we approach the end of a decade and the start of a new one, we wanted to provide some thoughts on how we believe work will change in 2020 and beyond.
20 Ways Work Will Change in 2020 (in no particular order)
1. The rise of the digital workforce
Technology lies at the heart of the future of work and as we move into 2020, more companies will incorporate digital workers into their workforce. A digital worker refers to technology — AI, robots, augmented reality, etc. — and though there will be a rise in digital workers next year, they are not expected to replace humans, rather just aid them.
2. Increased task automation
As more companies embrace digital workers, it only follows that low-value tasks will be increasingly automated. This will lead to a significant decline in manual processes, which will free up time for workers to focus on high-value tasks.
3. Increased use of artificial intelligence
Organizations are already using artificial intelligence and as workers increasingly feel comfortable using it, adoption of AI-powered technologies is set to increase in the next year. People are generally less afraid of these technologies, and the more they use them, the more likely they are to see their value. The power of AI goes beyond work and into the built environment, which can help drive productivity and optimize workplaces.
4. Focus on high-value tasks
Rather than spending a lot of time sorting and going through documents to find relevant data or information, employees will be spending more time on high-value tasks like creative and critical thinking, coaching others, connecting with clients/coworkers, developing new strategies, creating action plans, and so on. High-value tasks are those that will help employees meet strategic outcomes.
5. Collaboration between humans and robots
All of the above will lead to humans working alongside robots. Rather than making humans obsolete, digital workers can enhance human capabilities. Employees that are able to use technology to their advantage will not only focus on high-value tasks but they are also more likely to succeed in the future of work, as they will be able to leverage valuable tools and resources. For example, employees could collaborate with digital workers by allowing artificial intelligence to sort through documents while they focus on analyzing and connecting the dots between the important information.
Read “Future of Work: the Rise of the Digital Workforce”
6. Stronger focus on privacy and security
As workers increasingly collaborate and adopt emerging technologies, companies will need to place a stronger focus on privacy and security measures. Privacy and security are among the top employee concerns regarding workplace technology; companies need to address these fears and concerns in order to encourage employees to feel comfortable around and using AI-powered technologies.
7. Greater tech integration
While privacy and security are key issues to increase the rate of technological adoption, the same can be said about tech integration. Workplace technologies need to be able to integrate with one another to create a seamless workplace experience and make it easier for people to navigate and use them.
8. Learnability in the workplace
In order for humans to successfully collaborate with digital workers, they will need to develop and hone new skills. More importantly, learnability will also ensure that employees remain resilient and adaptable as technological advances continue to take place.
Read “Learnability: the Most Important Skill to Succeed in the Future of Work”
9. Greater focus on human skills and values
There is no denying that technology will be able to take over some jobs and tasks, which is why human skills and values will be in high-demand next year and in the years to come. Though technology lies at the heart of the future of work, work is still very much human and what makes us human will make us employable in the future.
Read “Future of Work: the Top 10 Soft Skills You Need to Succeed”
10. Changing management and organizational roles
As technology takes over certain tasks and frees up time for employees to focus on high-value tasks, job descriptions and roles are likely to change. In other words, technology will reshape traditional management roles and these roles will increasingly rely on human skills and values.
Read “Future of Work: AI Is Reshaping Managers’ Traditional Roles”
11. Stronger focus on mental health
Because the future of work is human, it’s only natural that companies are more concerned about the people working for them. Though there’s already a strong movement around mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, this is only set to increase as companies strive to attract and retain top talent.
12. Greater flexibility
And we mean this in all senses of the word: flexibility in terms of when, how, where, how much, and with whom people work, as well as flexibility in the workplace. Employees across generations are looking for increased flexibility from their jobs. How flexible an organization is regarding its talent, its offices, and its operations will be a key factor in determining success.
Read “Flexibility Is the Key Ingredient to a Happy Workforce” and “The Future of Work is about One Thing: Flexibility”
13. Continued rise of the alternative workforce
Companies are likely to continue to hire freelancers and remote workers for temporary and long-term projects. A 2019 Deloitte survey found that 51% of companies intent to develop an alternative workforce plan in the future; the survey also found that the alternative workforce can be a solution to the tight talent markets.
Read “Future of Work: the War for Talent is about to Get Fiercer”
14. Greater inclusion and diversity
As companies increasingly implement flexible policies and hire gig workers and contractors, they will be better able to reach their inclusion and diversity goals. Hiring remote workers, freelancers, and gig workers means that companies will be able to hire candidates who wouldn’t typically apply for a full-time position.
Read “Future of Work: Encouraging Diversity and Retaining Talent in 2020”
15. Greater geographic distribution among teams
As companies implement flexible work policies and tap into global and diverse talent pools, company teams and departments are likely to be geographically distributed. This increased geographic distribution will change the way team members interact and collaborate with one another. This will require that companies adopt and implement technologies that enable teams to easily collaborate online as well as offline.
16. Employee-owned HR
As companies strive to attract and retain top talent, they are rethinking the way they approach employee benefits and perks in order to cater to the changing and diverse needs of employees. Instead of having a set of benefits packages, companies will increasingly allow employees to build their own. This type of approach can increase employee engagement and productivity, as workers can choose benefits and amenities that can help them enhance their personal and professional lives.
Read “Future of Work: the Shift towards Employee-owned HR”
17. Greater personalization
Employee perks and benefits are one of the many ways in which work is becoming more personalized. As more companies embrace the Internet of Things, automation, artificial intelligence, and other technologies, employees will be empowered to personalize the way they work, and their work environment.
18. Harnessing the power of data
As more companies implement technologies and as more employees feel more comfortable using them, organizations will have access to valuable data. By harnessing the power of data, companies can better understand how people work, when they work best, what types of environments they prefer, and how they interact with space and others in the workplace. Data can then be turned into actionable items that can improve the workplace experience by driving engagement and productivity levels.
19. Digital workplaces
As organizations increasingly adopt emerging technologies, they will drive their digital transformation efforts in order to create workplaces that enable new, more effective ways of working. Next year and beyond, employees will increasingly work from workplaces that are digitally connected, beautiful, intelligent, and capable of supporting ever-changing tasks and roles.
Read “Future of Work: the Rise of the Digital Workplace”
20. Improved internal communication
With many changes expected to happen within organizations in the coming months, companies will increasingly focus on improving their internal communication efforts. Organizations will need to ensure that they are effectively communicating with all stakeholders any changes being implemented, how they will be implemented, the timeline, and how individuals will be affected. This means that employees are more likely to be engaged with coworkers and supervisors.