What is the future of work? Preparing for the new frontier

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There's no doubt about it – change is coming. From the remote work revolution to the proliferation of AI technology, the workplace is transforming before our eyes. In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably shifted the way we work. And, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Impending financial downturns combined with technological advances are set to create the perfect storm for transformation.

To adapt to the needs of the changing landscape, it's important to know what's coming. So, while nobody can definitively answer the question 'What is the future of work?’, we can use research to make informed predictions. Here's what you need to know in order to ride the wave.

Table of contents
Key trends informing the future of work
Transform your leadership and culture to prepare for the future
Top future-proofed careers
The rise of soft skills in tomorrow’s workplace
How to prepare your organization for the future

Key trends informing the future of work

From tighter budgets to potential job losses due to automation, there are plenty of challenges on the horizon. But, the good news is, the future of work is also set to become more employee-centric. As employee satisfaction takes center stage, workers will increasingly find themselves in the driving seat of their own careers.

Some of the trends shaping what's being called the 'Fifth Industrial Revolution' include:

Virtual reality promoting connection and collaboration

With 36.2 million people in the US alone expected to work from home by 2025, it's safe to say that hybrid and remote work are here to stay¹. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and holograms are set to revolutionize the way dispersed teams stay connected. For example, VR spaces in the metaverse may bring together remote workers for virtual training, conferences, and meetings.

Increased focus on employee wellbeing

With workplace burnout on the rise, the physical and mental wellbeing of employees can no longer be an afterthought². In one 2022 survey, 51% of employers reported that the mental health of their employees had affected their business in the last year³. This indicates an urgent need for greater work-life balance. Increasingly, organizations are offering wellness initiatives such as coaching as part of their employment packages to meet this need.

From roles-based to skills-based hiring

Gone are the days when you were hired solely based on the job title on your CV. As business leaders are forced to become more resourceful and flexible, skills-based hiring is on the rise. According to a TestGorilla report, 76% of employers utilize skills-based hiring to find new talent, and almost 55% use skills tests as part of the recruitment process⁴. As such, it's never been more important to identify the potential you already have in your organization – and identify where development is needed.

The rise of automation and artificial intelligence

By 2025, it's predicted that automation will disrupt 85 million jobs across 15 industries worldwide⁵. AI and machine learning are set to automate a multitude of repetitive tasks and business processes. Rather than trying to fight against the robots, savvy organizations must make soft skills their new currency.

Transform your leadership and culture to prepare for the future

These workplace trends will inform how companies approach leadership and culture. The onus will be on business leaders to future-proof their organization through agile and scalable processes. Key areas of focus will include:

Adapt to new ways of working in a remote and hybrid workplace

With 56% of companies allowing remote work, it's safe to say it has become mainstream⁶. But, this shift is impacting more than just work location. With teams no longer required to be in the same room to work together, innovative new ways of working have emerged. These include:

Small, cross-functional teams

During COVID-19, organizations were forced to move fast by leveraging diverse skill sets. This has led to the rise of cross-functional teams: where small groups across different departments collaborate on projects. By bringing together different areas of expertise and perspectives they are able to solve complex problems faster.

Some organizations call these tribes, others call them pods. Either way, the evidence indicates they may be the future of teamwork, with Deloitte data showing a 53% improvement in performance when using cross-functional teams⁷.

To build effective cross-functional teams, it's crucial to understand who you're putting together. Leveraging a tool like F4S can help you understand the motivations and communication preferences of your team members. It also gives you quantitative predictions on how harmonious your group is likely to be so you can make more informed teaming decisions.

Self-managed teams

With the rise of remote work, self-managed teams are also becoming more common. These are small groups of employees that are responsible for the delivery of a product or service. Rather than having one designated manager, they rely on a system of peer feedback and collaboration. In self-managed teams, all members, including junior employees, are empowered to make decisions.

Research shows this autonomous approach provides employees with greater motivation, job satisfaction and empowerment⁸. However, it's key to note that not all workers are suited to this work style. F4S' work style assessment can help you identify those self-motivated employees within your workforce.

An evidence-based approach to work configuration

Not everyone has the same attitude toward remote work. This not only varies among age groups (people aged 18 to 29 are the most pro-hybrid group⁹), but also between regions.

For example, research from Ifop found that only 29% of French workers work remotely at least once per week.¹⁰ That's compared to 51% of Germans, 50% of Italians, 42% of Brits and 36% of Spaniards. Other regions leading the way for remote work include the US, Australia, and Nordic countries.

If your organization operates across multiple regions, it's wise to take an evidence-based approach to work arrangements. F4S' work style assessment can provide insight into whether your employees do their best work at home, in the office, or a combination of the two.

Understand generational differences in the workplace

In the past, many organizations have taken a one-size-fits-all model to people development. However, with younger generations now comprising more of the workforce, this cookie-cutter approach no longer suffices. There are key generational differences in workplace attitudes. For example, Gen Z are significantly more likely to have multiple jobs than older workers¹¹ — perhaps a side effect of the gig economy. They also tend to have a more casual or informal approach to work. Without mutual understanding in place, this could easily cause friction with older, more conservative colleagues.

Why young and middle-aged workers are less motivated

Research shows that after the pandemic, 40% of young and middle-aged workers are less motivated to work¹², compared to just one-third of older workers¹.It goes without saying that this does not come down to laziness or a bad attitude. The COVID-19 crisis wreaked havoc on the mental health of people worldwide — and young people were the most severely affected.

From mass job cuts to long periods without human interaction, they've experienced major career disruptions early in their careers. It's no surprise that workplace attitudes have shifted, and many are feeling more apathetic about their daily work. The good news is, with a more targeted approach to professional development, you can re-engage these employees.

How to determine what motivates your workforce

Not all employees are motivated by the same things. For example, research shows that Gen Z values work-life balance, remote work, and flexible leave above salary when looking for a new job¹³. Understanding what drives your people is key to getting the most out of them. And, luckily, you don't have to be a mind reader to gain these insights.

The F4S work style assessment is up to 90% accurate at pinpointing employee motivations, strengths, and blind spots. This evidence-based test is based on 15 years of research by Michelle Duval, the F4S founder. She specifically commissioned this research to understand the attitudes and motivations of highly successful business owners. By sharing the free assessment with your team, you can understand and better leverage their inner drives.

Accelerate understanding between teams

Breadth

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Motivated by macro big picture thinking, these teammates value moving quickly to connect dots between abstract ideas to 'get the gist' of things.

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vs

Depth

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These teammates value being concrete and specific, getting into details to understand the steps or tasks required.

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See the different work styles in your team

Take the free assessment & set up your team

Prioritize employee morale and wellbeing

It's no secret that happy and engaged employees tend to be more productive and stay in their roles for longer. One key aspect of this is being part of a harmonious team. Research shows that strong workplace bonds significantly increase workplace morale and even mental wellbeing¹⁴. With employees spread between the office and home, fostering close-knit teams can be challenging. However, business owners can leverage the digital solutions at their fingertips to create happy, high-performing teams. These include:

  • Map your culture: Your culture is the beating heart of your organization. F4S's Culture Map tool captures your employees’ motivations and work styles across offices and teams, and distills them into an easily digestible infographic.
F4S dashboard shows team culture so you can prepare for the future of work
F4S team dashboard
  • Develop team rituals: From virtual Friday night drinks to monthly trivia nights, it's important to have regular team bonding activities in the calendar. This gives teams something to look forward to, and is an opportunity to bond outside of work.
  • Use a team-building calculator: Not sure which bonding activities are best for your team size, or budget? This handy calculator takes out the guesswork and gives you a list of suitable options.
  • Leverage collaboration tools: Keeping projects on track across disparate teams is no easy feat. By using communication tools such as Slack and Google Teams and project management tools like Trello and Asana, you can stay in touch and keep tasks moving.
  • Create an employee wellness program: With 70% of employees reporting that they believe companies should offer mental and emotional health support¹⁵, employee wellness programs are now a non-negotiable. Consider how you use one to create a better-quality employee experience.

Top future-proofed careers

While 37% of employees are worried about automation¹⁶, the shift likely won't be as simple as machines replacing people (thank goodness). Rather, individuals must consider how they can work alongside AI, not against it. Leveraging strong technical skills, these are some of the best-positioned jobs for the future workplace:

  • Information security analyst
  • Software engineer
  • Chief technology officer
  • Computer programmer
  • Web developer
  • Full stack engineer
  • Front-end developer

You can read our full guide to the best future-proof tech jobs.

The rise of soft skills in tomorrow’s workplace

Much of the discussion around future preparation focuses on technical skills. It makes sense, as technology-based industries will only continue to grow. However, this misses an important part of the picture. If there's one area where robots cannot easily overtake us, it's soft skills.

Otherwise known as 'human skills', this includes emotional intelligence, interpersonal effectiveness, and communication skills – the things that allow us to relate effectively to each other.

Research shows that for workers who stay in their roles, up to 50% of employees will need reskilling by 2025¹⁷. According to the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills they will need to adopt include:

  • Analytical thinking and innovation
  • Active learning
  • Complex problem solving
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Creativity, originality, and initiative
  • Leadership and social influence
  • Technology use, monitoring and control
  • Technology design and programming
  • Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
  • Reasoning, problem solving and ideation

At F4S, we have been studying many of these skills for over 20 years. Using a science-backed approach, we have developed AI-based coaching programs that develop these competencies in just a few minutes a day. You can learn more about our research in this video:

How to prepare your organization for the future

To get your workforce ready for the new frontier of work, both technical and soft skills are crucial.

A structured professional development program can help your people build these in-demand skills. This may include skills training, virtual business coaching, or leadership coaching. At F4S, we have on-demand coaching programs to work on everything from attention to detail to big picture thinking. Better yet, these programs are 100% personalized to each person, and are available anytime and anywhere.

How to implement a training and development program in your workplace

Looking to roll out structured professional development in your organization for the first time? The steps you'll need to follow include:

  1. Identify your company needs and skill gaps
  2. Set program objectives and KPIs
  3. Design your program (or use an existing one, like Fingerprint for Success)
  4. Assign facilitators or hire coaches
  5. Choose program participants
  6. Communicate the vision
  7. Execute and evaluate (by tracking progress)

You can read our full guide to creating leadership development programs.

Design for diversity, equity, and inclusion

The future of work is for everyone. All employees deserve the opportunity to be their best selves at work. Diversity, equity, and inclusion should be at the forefront of all HR and L&D initiatives – and new technological advancements make that easier. For example, F4S' talent acquisition tool takes the cognitive bias out of hiring by providing evidence-based insights into work styles, skills, and motivations.

Get ready for the future of work with F4S

With cutting-edge technology at your fingertips, you can be prepared for anything the future holds. Take our free work style assessment today and enter the new era of professional development.

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  1. Flynn, J. (2023). 25 Trending Remote Work Statistics: Facts, Trends, And Projections. Zippia. https://www.zippia.com/advice/remote-work-statistics/
  2. HRM Asia Newsroom. (2023). Employee Burnout Is On The Rise. How Can HR Tech Help? | HRM Asia. https://hrmasia.com/employee-burnout-is-on-the-rise-how-can-hr-tech-help/
  3. Aflac Supplemental Insurance. (2022.). Aflac WorkForces Report. https://www.aflac.com/business/resources/aflac-workforces-report/default.aspx
  4. TestGorilla. (2023). The State of Skills-Based Hiring 2022 - TestGorilla. https://www.testgorilla.com/state-of-skills-based-hiring-2022/
  5. Recession and Automation Changes Our Future of Work, But There Are Jobs Coming, Report Says. (2020). World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/press/2020/10/recession-and-automation-changes-our-future-of-work-but-there-are-jobs-coming-report-says-52c5162fce/
  6. Owl Labs. (2022). The State of Remote Work Report by Owl Labs. https://resources.owllabs.com/state-of-remote-work
  7. Deloitte. (2021). Teaming Your Way Through Disruption. Deloitte Insights. https://www.deloitte.com/global/en/our-thinking/insights/topics/business-strategy-growth/cross-functional-collaboration.html
  8. Vienhauser, A. (2010). Self-Managed Teams As Company Structure And Its Effect On Motivation, Job Satisfaction, Empowerment And Perceived Performance https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:322868/fulltext01.pdf
  9. McMenamin, L. (2022). Why Younger Workers Want Hybrid Work Most. BBC Worklife. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210729-why-younger-workers-want-hybrid-work-most
  10. Johanson, M. (2022). The Countries Resisting Remote Work. BBC Worklife. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20220511-the-countries-resisting-remote-work
  11. Royle, O. R. (2023). Gen Zers Are Now ‘Polyworking.' Fortune. https://fortune.com/2023/03/20/gen-z-polyworking-one-job-not-pay-enough-flexibility-paychex/
  12. The University of Melbourne. (2023). 2023 State of the Future of Work report. https://www.work-futures.org/publications
  13. Zurich Australia. (2022.). How Is Gen Z Changing The Workplace - Zurich Australia. https://www.zurich.com.au/latest-news/magazine/how-is-gen-z-changing-the-workplace.html
  14. Beheshti, N. (2019). 10 Timely Statistics About The Connection Between Employee Engagement And Wellness. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2019/01/16/10-timely-statistics-about-the-connection-between-employee-engagement-and-wellness/?sh=78c12ef622a0
  15. Harrison, J. (2022). Employee Expectations in Workplace Wellness Programs - WebMD Health Services. https://www.webmdhealthservices.com/blog/employee-expectations-in-corporate-well-being-programs/
  16. Flynn, J. (2023). 36+ Alarming Automation & Job Loss Statistics [2023]: Are Robots, Machines, And AI Coming For Your Job? Zippia. https://www.zippia.com/advice/automation-and-job-loss-statistics
  17. World Economic Forum. (2020). The Future of Jobs Report 2020. https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2020

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