“Disruptive innovations are creating new industries and business models, and destroying old ones. New technologies, data analytics and social networks are having a huge impact on how people communicate, collaborate and work. As generations collide, workforces become more diverse and people work longer; traditional career models may soon be a thing of the past. Many of the roles and job titles of tomorrow will be ones we’ve not even thought of yet.” – Michael Rendell, Head of Human Capital Consulting, PwC
10,000 respondents from China, India, Germany, the UK and the US took part on the future of work’s survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). 66% of them saw the future of work as a “world full of possibility.”
But, which possibilities? “The future of work. A journey to 2022” is a fascinating narrative of three worlds coming together to shape new ways of working.
The Blue World – corporate is king
The Blue World will be governed by capitalism, with a business model built around efficiency, speed and innovation. To survive in a challenging environment, the operating system will look at opportunities whenever they are.
Internally, the challenge will be to “integrate talent from different markets into the overall corporate culture.” Also, to implement high rewards for high-flyers, while catering for benefits such as flexibility and technological support.
Analytics will provide novel ways of identify workforce skills sets, “creating precision around sourcing the right candidates for the right tasks, as well as on-the-job performance measurement and assessment.”
HR and those in charge of human talent will be required not only people skills, but also capabilities such as financial, analytical, marketing and risk management skills.
However, building trust and real-time communications will remain key to be establishing lasting relationships with staff. It will be particularly true in “convincing employees that the ‘price’ of data release and close monitoring is worth paying.”
The Green World – companies care
Companies in the Green World will be highly involved in social and environmental responsibility. They will be open, collaborative and learning working environments willing to support employees and communities in their development.
While the Chief Executive will lead the strategy for the company, green firms will have flat and fluid structures, in which every individual will be empowered to make decisions.
For green firms, “corporate responsibility is not an altruistic nice to have, but a business imperative.” Technology will be used to replace colleagues’ need for travelling; staff footprint will be used in targeting performance; initiatives will be created around health and well-being, professional development, flexible working and volunteering.
“The combination of ethical values, support for the real economy and family- friendly hours is an opportunity to create a new employee value proposition that isn’t solely reliant on pay.”
However, HR will need to be innovative, providing employees with jobs that meet their aspirations and lifestyles. Plus, ensuring that regulations will not be a barrier to flexibility in the enterprise.
Finally, “in a caring organisation, there is also the question of how to keep people in employment if there is a downturn in the market or wider economy.”
The Orange World – small is beautiful
Businesses in the Orange World are fragmented “into looser networks of autonomous, often specialised operations.” They will be brought together often on a task-basis through technology, connectivity and social media. While the core team will fully embrace the philosophy of the company, “the rest come in and out on a project-by-project basis.”
“People are more likely to see themselves as members of a particular skill or professional network than as an employee of a particular company.”
The Orange World sees the rise of “the portfolio career,” with a big number of individuals preferring to have multiple working experiences as freelancers or contractors for a variety of organisations. According to the findings, 2 out of 5 respondents think that the traditional employment will disappear. Instead, individuals “will have their own ‘brands’ and sell their skills to those who need them.”
This will be part of a generational shift, with younger people hunger for autonomy and entrepreneurialism.
As for the Blue and Green World, Orange firms will make extensive use of technology. However, their focus will be on creating virtual collaboration, coordinating external workforce and supporting relationships with third parties. Again, building trust and solid relationships will be crucial.
One challenge will be to ensure that the people who have a stake in the company’s success, genuinely possess the expertise required.
So, what does the future hold?
“Most of the HR professionals in our survey don’t believe they’re prepared for meeting the needs of a workforce that demands more freedom, autonomy and flexibility. Only around 20% report that they’re ready to embrace the role of technology and automation in replacing knowledge workers, even though most recognise this is something they should consider.”
The three worlds by PwC are not intended as a prescriptive and static model. Instead, they should be treated as a starting point for planning a long-term strategy, which takes into considerations both opportunities and risks likely to occur in the future.