What trends are shaping the future of work?

Pay attention: the workplace is about to get an extreme makeover

Trends and styles will forever come and go.  And as fast as fads come in, they are just as quickly replaced when a hot new craze appears on the horizon.  But we are not only talking about the latest hit single or the newest clothing trends.  The expression out with the old and in with the new is now state-of-the-art and is set to grace the corporate catwalks the world over during the next few years as shifts and changes in the way we work give rise to the New world of work.  So, step into your sneakers, or stretch on your leggings, but remember there is no one size fits all.  Let’s welcome the agents of change – the workplace is about to get an extreme makeover.  

What significant trends are shaping the New World of Work?

There are major shifts taking place in the world of work, due to underlying structural shifts as well as the residual effects of the pandemic.  As a result, businesses are restructuring their operations to create efficiencies and recruiting staff based on the skills they have to offer as opposed to their latent potentials.

From a Hustle Culture to “Quiet Quitting”

“Quiet quitting” is the latest buzzword doing the rounds through the workplace grapevine.  While quiet quitting may sound like it refers to the action of quitting one’s job, what it actually describes is the act of turning against the ‘hustle’ culture of going the extra mile to deliver beyond the expectations of a job.

Post-pandemic Fallout

Not only did the pandemic cause major disruptions and restrictions the world over, but it also caused certain people to rethink their career strategies.  In the United States alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics, 71.6 million people quit their jobs between April 2021 and April 2022 in what has become known as the ‘Great Resignation.’ Due to the pandemic-induced economic slowdown, other changes in the world of work are rife across the globe.  For instance, a global shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills has led to companies embarking upon programs to upskill and reskill employees in an attempt to bridge the gaps.

Hard fact: Soft Skills on the Rise

A recent career survey indicates that many of the top skills that respondents identified as those high on the agenda for upskilling involve ‘soft skills’ such as management and leadership (34%), critical thinking (24%), creativity (24%) and problem-solving (20%).

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What shifts are likely to remain with us in the New World of Work?

Certain shifts that are influencing the New World of Work predate the pandemic, which leads us to conclude that the pandemic acted merely as a change agent that accelerated the pace of the adoption of new trends based on these shifts.  Yet, despite their origins, there are certain trends that are firmly bedding down and by the looks of things, and at least for the foreseeable future, are here to stay.  So, what are some of these prevailing trends in the New World of Work?

Companies are restructuring to become more efficient

Due to industry structure changes as well as disruption of traditional business models, companies the world over are restructuring to make themselves more relevant and achieve greater competitiveness.  This has come about largely due to rapid technological developments involving automation, robotics and AI which are dramatically influencing the types and numbers of available jobs.

Companies are hiring people based on the types of skills they have

More businesses are hiring people based on their skills and experience as opposed to potential.  This is linked to strategies that are now more short and medium term based in line with the current economic climate.  Since the skills-based hiring trend began to kick in less people are being hired based on the degrees they have.  In fact, many employers are now doing away with making degrees part of the hiring criteria in favour of skills-based hiring.  Interestingly, only 11% of global business leaders believe that students are graduating with the required competencies.  This means that young people making their way into the world of work should make the most of work-integrated learning in the form of internships and apprenticeship programs so as to develop their skills and acquire the necessary experience.

Talent Mobility

The current climate has led to a global scramble for skilled talent which has also given rise to opportunities for workers to move across jobs, industries and countries.  The culture of remote work, powered by digital collaboration technologies fast-tracked by the pandemic has created the opportunity for employees to move across jobs or tackle multiple jobs at the same time.  This also means that a shift to a mindset of career mobility must incorporate the idea that one must develop skills that are transferrable across job categories, which also places the onus on training and development specialists to tailor their skills programs accordingly.

The decline of the ‘employment contract’ and the rise of the gig economy

The disappearing employment contract and the emergence of the gig economy is perfectly exemplified by companies like Uber.  Uber has effectively created employment opportunities for millions of drivers worldwide and none of the drivers are bound by an employment contract.  The gig economy, which, simply put is a labour market comprising short-term jobs, contracted or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs, has made it possible for individuals and companies to gain access to a global talent pool with diverse skills to complete tasks on demand.  However, the flip side to this coin is that it eliminates those structures that lie at the heart of employment security.

Digital skills for a digital world

Organisations across all industries and sectors, from manufacturing to media, are evolving into technology businesses.  This has resulted in huge shifts in the world of work.  Employability now revolves around whether people possess the necessary digital skills to operate in a digital workplace.  Hence, the digital workplace is now not an option.  It is now an imperative to move out of the comfort zone and redesign systems and processes to compete in a world dictated by continuous technological advancement.

Reference sources: techtarget.com|pwc.com|investec.com|world economic forum

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