The landscape of the workforce is undergoing transformations that are being driven by factors such as technology advancements, the gig economy, and evolving employee demands. As a result, businesses must embrace change and reimagine the approach to their human resources strategies in order to remain competitive and prosperous. This article discusses the future of work trends and how HR can navigate them to create a thriving work environment.
Remote Work. Although major technology organizations started calling their employees back to the office last year, remote work’s future may be projected to grow, with estimates indicating that a significant portion of the workforce will work remotely multiple days a week. For instance, Upwork’s Future Workforce Pulse Report states that 36.2 million Americans are expected to be working remotely by 2025, an 87% increase from the pre-pandemic level. Surveys highlight the preference for remote work, with employees reporting increased productivity and improved work-life balance.
HR professionals play a vital role in supporting organizations with remote work arrangements. HR should establish clear policies and guidelines that address eligibility criteria, communication protocols, performance evaluation, and work-hour expectations. Additionally, HR should ensure that workers have access to the infrastructure and equipment needed for remote work, including laptops, secure network access, and collaboration tools. Moreover, HR should prioritize employee well-being by providing resources for work-life balance, organizing virtual team-building activities, and promoting regular breaks and self-care practices.
To foster teamwork and virtual socialization, HR should enable effective communication and collaboration using collaboration tools, video conferencing platforms, and routine check-ins. And lastly, HR professionals should ensure remote work arrangements comply with labor laws, data security, and privacy regulations, offering guidance and support in adhering to these standards. By implementing these strategies, HR professionals can support organizations in effectively managing remote work arrangements, promoting employee well-being, productivity, and organizational success in the future of work.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI and automation have significantly affected many organizations and workers alike. AI-enabled platforms and chatbots, Big Data, and Cloud Computing are among the technologies with the highest likelihood of adoption by organizations. According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), these technologies are expected to be implemented by more than 75% of businesses, in the next five years.
AI-based technology offers a variety of advantages, including improved production and efficiency. For instance, an Accenture report discovered that chatbots and other AI technology can boost corporate productivity by up to 40%. Another benefit is enhanced customer service. Virtual assistants and chatbots can offer round-the-clock assistance, allowing businesses to interact with clients and respond to their questions whenever they arise.
Although AI has a lot to offer businesses and employees, there are also challenges associated with the technology which could pose potential risks. For instance, technology is responsible for the fastest-declining roles relative to their size now, as in the WEF’s 2023 Jobs Report. The main drivers of this development are artificial intelligence and digitalization.
The majority of the clerical and secretarial occupations with the quickest dropping employment are predicted to be bank tellers and related clerks, postal service clerks, cashiers and ticket clerks, and data entry clerks. HR Professionals are essential in assisting businesses and individuals in navigating this shift as AI continues to shape the future of work. For instance, to provide employees with the skills they need to adapt to AI-driven developments, HR should develop and implement effective reskilling and upskilling programs. To promote a culture of lifelong learning, this may entail identifying developing abilities, providing training opportunities, and providing platforms for ongoing learning.
Gig Economy. Apart from remote work, the Gig economy is also an essential work trend that is reshaping traditional employment models. The phrase “gig economy” is used to describe a broad range of arrangements where people work on an irregular, part-time, or project basis rather than the conventional regular full-time employment contracts. People who are engaged in a gig economy typically work on temporary projects or tasks, often through different “gigs” or assignments to supplement their income.
According to Upwork and Freelancers Union, the number of American gig workers grew by 22% from 2019 to 2020, totaling 59 million people. Further, the gig economy is poised to profoundly shape the future of work, as reported by Statista. Statista’s report suggests that by 2023, it is anticipated that the total value of the gig economy will soar to an astounding $455.2 billion. Moreover, Intuit, a global technology platform that assists SMEs in solving their biggest financial issues, predicts that by 2023, 43% of the American workforce will be employed in the gig economy.
The soaring popularity of the gig economy offers both upsides and downsides for organizations and HR professionals. While the gig economy provides agility and flexibility for both employers and the workforce, it does not come without challenges. To effectively attract, engage, and assist gig workers while maintaining compliance with applicable statutes, HR professionals must develop and implement strategies tailored to this growing set of workers.