The upheavals of the past few years have certainly disrupted ‘business as usual’. The pandemic, supply chain issues and high employee turnover have changed the nature of work for companies and individuals. Looking at work trends, what changes can we expect to see in our future workplaces?
Working from home (WFH) was necessary during the pandemic's peaks, and temporary remote working will continue as long as Covid remains in the community. For many people, a hybrid role that blends office time with WFH is an attractive option. In the future, flexible work arrangements will be just as important as pay when attracting skilled talent to your organisation.
Companies are also seeking flexibility, and we expect to see contract work increase in the years ahead. While the so-called gig economy hasn’t entirely gone to plan, with many incidences of unfairness or worker exploitation, the need for a flexible workforce remains. Initiatives such as the upcoming Fair Pay Agreements legislation may help create a more sustainable environment for contract workers and employers.
During lockdown, we saw many companies step up and take on a more supportive role for their people. There’s an undeniable worldwide trend toward building work environments that support diversity, combat bullying and foster wellbeing. Talent shortages are likely to continue, and organisations that focus on wellbeing will be more attractive to potential employees.
Skills, not Roles
Workplaces will start to focus on skills rather than roles. Companies that recognise and make full use of the skills within their organisation will benefit from better productivity.
We’ve all seen examples where someone in a senior role might not be best suited for the task. A skills-based approach might require leadership to bypass hierarchal structures and give the job to someone more qualified to do the work.
From Efficiency to Resilience
Businesses will shift from being lean and efficient to being resilient. Just-in-time manufacturing has stumbled due to all the pressures on the supply chain, and companies now recognise they need to build up their resources to cope with unpredictability. Resilience extends to the workforce too—businesses that rely on a few key individuals are at greater risk of failing.
Alongside hybrid and contract work, we expect companies to introduce opportunities to work less. Four-day weeks or 80% work, 80% pay roles could become more common. Job sharing is another way to provide flexibility to employees and allow them to enjoy a better work/life balance.
New technologies allow managers to automate tasks such as scheduling, expense reports, and staff monitoring. Once the preserve of larger companies, business automation is becoming a cost-effective option for SMEs looking to reduce cost and improve efficiency. The downside is the risk of technological unemployment for middle management. However, businesses that offer skills re-training can minimise these effects and redeploy their existing employees into new roles.