Future of Work

The future of work is a major concern preoccupying industry, professionals and academicians. Much has been said, discussed and debated about the issue. Automation and technology have always instilled fear since the industrial revolution and has been opposed vehemently. As time passes, the new becomes the normal and, we have adapted. But today, the issue is of greater concern because of the pace at which technological advancements are driving changes and impacting us. Three major concerns emerge from all this cacophony.

Firstly, to what extent will technological advancements like automation, robotics and artificial intelligence impact nature of job? What kind of skills will be needed for the jobs and occupations of the future? Will it eliminate jobs and occupations and result in mass unemployment?

Yes, some existing occupations will decline and new occupations will emerge. Jobs that exist today will cease to exist. But, on the other hand newer opportunities and jobs will arise and demand for individuals with skills in new areas of technologies will grow. Jobs will be highly modularised and divided into specialised tasks done by specialists and experts. The employment marketplace will consist of free agents, independent workers, telecommuters and highly skilled professionals. Consequently, domain specific jobs like Marketing, HR, Finance etc will become irrelevant. Salary structure will change; compensation will be for the time and effort in completing a particular work. Technology will aid in carrying out almost all the tasks.

The second change relates to organisations, their structure and design. How does all these impact the organisational structure and design.

Organisations in the current form will cease to exist as organisational structure and design will change with the emergence of flattened hierarchy. Designations in the present form will no longer be relevant and individuals will be known by the skills they possess. With independent workers and telecommuting the need for infrastructure and physical space will decline. Outsourcing will increase further. The concept of 9 to 5 job will no longer exist. Organisations thus have to re-think about their current systems and practices which are created on functional departments and domains.

The third concern is how does it impact individuals? As the nature of work changes, the need for lifelong learning cannot be over emphasised. Those caught at crossroads need readjusting of skills to fit in the future of work. With the onus of career development and growth falling largely on individuals, continuous learning and re-skilling is no longer a matter of choice.

Therefore, organisations too need to re-skill and redeploy their workforce to keep pace with the changes. There will be a rising demand for people with skills like communication, critical thinking, creativity, problem solving and strategic decision making at the helm to steer the organisation into the future.

By Vandana Madhavkumar