The changing world of work: one of the most frequently asked questions put to us here at CXC Global is this: what does the future of work look like? In today’s politically uncertain world, where rapidly developing technology has forced us to adapt or get left behind, business leaders across the globe are extremely interested in what the future holds.
In this four-part blog series, we’ll be looking at the key areas that businesses can improve on if want to remain relevant. These include:
- How to change your strategic approach to work
- Adapting to technological shifts
- Transforming your approach to talent
But back to what the future of work looks like. Perhaps a better question would be – how can we create the future of work? So instead of preparing for change, why not make it? That’s what the most innovative market leaders are doing: pioneering ways of being more competitive, agile and customer-focused so they can lead, not have to adapt to, a changing market.
This series on the future of work will assist organisations in understanding how to embrace the changing landscape of work and use technology, strategies and people to achieve business outcomes.
What do we mean by ‘future of work’?
According to Christopher J. Dwyer, Vice President of Ardent Partners, the future of work is this…
The concept of the ‘Future of Work’, has typically been concerned with the strategic realm of work optimisation. Factors such as such as costs, compliance and project management. However, organisations are now looking beyond this, to develop the capability to respond to market needs as they arise. This need for flexibility has arisen through a convergence of several complex factors:
- An increase in flexible workers: the GFC & recession in 2007/2008 prompted many organisations to shed numerous full-time workers, causing contingent labour to rise 23% over a ten-year period. Although the economy recovered, businesses realised they needed to have more flexible staffing options to scale up or down when necessary. Not only this, employers started to understand the benefits of a high-quality contingent workforce for filling talent gaps.
- On-demand services: since the popularity of online-to-real-life services such as Uber, Airbnb and Deliveroo, consumers have come to expect a certain level of convenience when sourcing goods and services; and now, talent is no different. We call this the consumerisation of global business, where companies can access online marketplaces to source and manage workers when they need, while capturing valuable data and reporting on their workforce.
- Unified technology: we’re now seeing a technological landscape that we can barely keep up with. The future of work will be driven by interconnected, emergent technologies, like augmented reality, 3D printing, big data and robotic process automation. By themselves, each of these technologies can disrupt the future of work; together, they’re likely to turn ‘work’ on its head.
Despite the compelling historical factors that are influencing the way we conduct work, change isn’t inevitable, and many organisations are clinging to the traditional ways of working.
What are the obstacles for change?
Many organisations are still relying on the outdated methods of sourcing, hiring and managing employees, preventing them from adapting to the changing world of work and shifting market conditions. It’s becoming increasingly untenable to remain competitive against other organisations that are at the forefront of innovation; however, there are numerous reasons that organisations give for avoiding change. According to a survey of business leaders by Ardent partners, the current barriers to work optimisation are:
- 72% say workplace culture will not allow adoption of new technologies/strategies
- 65% say lack of budget for new technologies and innovation
- 51% say lack of awareness to what is happening in the market
- 38% say executive team maintains traditional/outdated thinking
- 32% say lack of human capital resources.
As shown in the survey, the greatest obstacles centre around culture and budget.
Although culture is often one of the greatest barriers to innovation, a positive culture, open to new ideas and ways of working, is essential to get a business to adapt. Breaking free of the mentality that many business leaders have of ‘doing things like they’ve always been done’ is essential to survive in today’s marketplace. True pioneers of this new world of work will not only be open to new ideas, but actively seek them out.
In the same vein, business leaders will need to put their money where their mouth is and invest in next-generation technology. Without investing in new technology, like automation or vendor management systems, organisations are likely to fall behind.
How can businesses be prepared?
As discussed already, for many of us, the changing world of work has delivered the future right here, right now. With technological and societal forces combining to revolutionise how we do things, there’s never been a better time to overcome organisational barriers and change direction. The survival of your business could depend on it.
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