The working world of the future holds new challenges for HR professionals and recruiters. The rapid development of artificial intelligence and other technological advances are leading us into a future that is fundamentally different from the working world that prevailed just 5 years ago.
This makes it all the more difficult to make predictions about the working world of the future in this volatile environment in which we live. Nevertheless, certain trends are emerging, such as the normalization of remote jobs or the emergence of new professions. All these developments have implications not only for employees, but also for managers and employers in general.
The last few months have shown it, our world is in a constant state of flux, and some would probably argue that it is almost impossible to estimate what the future will look like. Even though the market is always experiencing slumps, there are clear trends for the working world of the future. The Institute for Applied Labor Sciences has identified 5 trend directions for this: Sustainability, Flexibility, Technology, Forms of Employment and People. This list alone shows that the world of work is becoming increasingly complex for employers, but also for employees. In this context, the word skills shortage is shaping the future, because one of the essential questions will be: "How do I attract workers?"
For the working world of the future, it is crucial to respond to the following trends on the one hand, and on the other hand to retain the flexibility needed for a sudden change.
According to the ifaa, topics such as sustainability are also becoming increasingly important in the world of work. Gen Z, for example, demands Meaningful Work, i.e. work that has a benefit for the world or the general public, no matter how simple it is. Likewise, the focus is shifting to the sustainable design of products, processes, services and production, as well as the desire for a clean industry. So it is no longer enough to simply be an employer, but the ethical factor is also taken into account when deciding for or against a company. This change in values is also evident when employees are considered.
In the working world of the future, topics such as high diversity will become increasingly important at the same time, for example, teams consisting of people with different cultural backgrounds will become more common. This gives rise to new fields of activity such as diversity management, which is seen as a crucial success criterion for the future. In addition to this development, topics such as lifelong learning and the integration of employees with professional and life experience, the so-called silver workers, are increasingly coming into focus. Silver workers have the decisive advantage that they bring experience with them; especially in professions that do not require physical effort, they can mean a decisive added value.
Another development is the compatibility of work and family or private life. On the one hand, there is still talk of work-life balance or work-life blending, but on the other hand, the Zukunftsinstitut describes this as an illusion. Instead, we should be talking about work-life dynamics. In detail, this means that there are phases in which more work is done because of the current work situation, and then again there are times when the focus is on family and leisure. This would mean saying goodbye to the 50:50 principle. The working world of the future will require more promotion of individual responsibility, and a motivating workplace design will have a supporting effect, as will secure jobs. One possibility could be flexicurity, i.e. flexible working (flexibility) combined with security. In the future, employees will no longer be expected to come to the office every day. Instead, the idea of trust will prevail.
In addition to the above, the individualization of work will also play an increasingly important role, and with it a wide variety of forms of employment. Thus, in the working world of the future, there will no longer just be part-time, full-time or self-employment, but also crowd-, cloud- or gig-work. Instead of having only permanent employees in one's own company, these forms of work offer the possibility of meeting the demand for skilled workers for projects in an uncomplicated way. Hiring freelancers or outsourcing certain activities can effectively counteract the shortage of skilled workers.
Thanks to the growth in technology, virtual teamwork in the form of remote work is also set to increase. The ifaa also states that new industrial jobs will be created, including in residential areas, as industrial services increase. This means that there will be a focus on STEM occupations in the future, and IT in particular will grow in the workplace of the future.
The growth of artificial intelligence, machine learning, as well as the use of robotics will greatly change the world of work in the coming years. This raises the question of which professions will still exist at all in the future when AIs and machines learn more and more and become more intelligent. The New Careers trend is looking at precisely this: Which areas will disappear completely, and where will new professions emerge? Above all, the field of robotics, i.e. machines that are becoming increasingly intelligent, will gain in growth in the coming years. These will communicate better with each other in the sense of an Internet of Things, and thus increase efficiency. For the working world of the future, we can therefore assume that the demand for IT specialists, but also for mechanics, will increase.
The last category for the working world of the future will go hand in hand with technology, but also with sustainability and the new forms of employment. Flexibility will influence work in the future through mobility due to location-independent working, but also through agility - unlike conventional planning of projects and work processes, in agile working the goal is fixed, but the approach is regularly adapted to current circumstances. This creates individual solutions that offer maximum flexibility for employees. This flexibility also means that the degree of networking will have to increase in order to stay in touch for work. In the last ten to fifteen years, we have already seen how new technologies suitable for widespread use are changing the nature of collaboration and supporting greater flexibility. With this development comes new demands on companies as a whole and on managers in particular, who must learn how to lead at a distance.
The above developments can seem overwhelming at first glance. Many systems and ways of working as we know them are becoming obsolete; which is precisely why you should prepare yourself and your company for the future now. You may already be in line with some trend directions, such as flexible working through home office or remote work. You are probably already using AIs in one place or another to make workflow more effective, or in terms of Big Data to analyze large amounts of data and evaluate decision options with business intelligence tools, or you have already integrated fully automated systems/machines via Internet of Things.
But what about your employment patterns? Is the 40-hour work week your standard or do you offer more customized work schedules? Have you ever thought about using gig workers or crowdwork? Is your organization still arranged in a steep hierarchy, or is it already flatter and offers individual employees more flexibility and room for their own development? There are many opportunities in the area of collaboration and the human factor to prepare for the working world of the future. Of course, you should keep your industry in mind; not all measures can be implemented for every field of activity.
The dynamics of change, crises and challenges make it even more important for all professionals to take care of themselves as well. Strengthening mental health and building a stable foundation for oneself is part of the future competencies of our upcoming working world. It is with this health competence in particular that we can take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to us in the process.
The working world of the future holds many challenges and also currently unknown developments. Nevertheless, it can already be predicted that the old systems, such as a steep hierarchy or the daily trip to the office, will become obsolete - at least in those areas where things can be done differently. These developments will demand a great deal from both employers and managers, and will require an evolution of management style as well as the company. For this leap, it can be beneficial to consider the help of a strong partner with vision and foresight. We implement many of these trends in our daily work, from flexible working models to the use of AI. If you need support in your company for a transformation to be well equipped for the working world of the future, contact us.