Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
The future of work is an increasingly popular topic for job seekers and organizations alike. Everywhere you look, you’re seeing technological advancements occurring at breathtaking speed.
Additionally, shifting global markets and evolving industries are reshaping professional landscapes worldwide.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are playing a significant role in almost every field. Experts predict that this shift will be as “significant as the mechanization in prior generations of agriculture and manufacturing.”
Those advancements bring the risk of job losses but also the creation of many new jobs and substantial changes to existing roles and routines.
Adaptability has never been more critical. Embracing the coming changes and updating your skill set and development goals is crucial to future-proofing your career.
The Current Landscape of Work
For both employees and employers, embracing new business models and technologies is key.
Staying relevant and competitive will require learning to work with emerging technologies that assist and augment human work.
Technological Advancements Are Accelerating
In a recent report, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) speculates about four scenarios for work in 2030.
While there’s no crystal ball and a wide range of scenarios, the spectrum ranges from a lack of regulation and large global corporations dominating the landscape to a rise in diversity and equity with individual entrepreneurship and smaller startups taking the lead.
However, there’s a common theme in all four of these scenarios: machines and automation will likely “replace workers doing mundane, repetitive tasks.”
We can already see this shift happening today. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence and automation, have significantly impacted work across various industries.
The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed transformations that would have likely come anyway, just at a much slower pace. New jobs have been created rapidly, and existing jobs are shifting.
More hopeful research comes out of MIT. A recent paper highlights the differences in how humans and machines process and share information. While there is likely to be a significant shift in how work is performed with new labor-saving technologies, MIT acknowledges that governments, businesses and society can smooth the transition.
Business Models Are Changing
Companies strive to compete by hiring teams of experts for new technologies as quickly as they’re created.
To lure top talent, organizations are adapting their structures. Increased focus on flexibility, efficiency, and innovation has allowed companies to respond with agility to the shifting global economy.
For example, many companies are shifting toward hybrid work models and challenging the traditional 9-to-5, office-centric schedules. Employees are seeking a more flexible work-life balance and demanding greater accountability from the companies they’re working for.
As a result, organizations are prioritizing social, environmental, and ethical considerations in their business practices. Climate change, diversity, and inclusion are weaving through or driving strategies and decision-making processes.
This shift considerably impacts how companies approach work and interact with their employees, partners, and customers.
With many repetitive tasks, such as scheduling and reporting, becoming automated, managers are leaning toward building human-centered leadership. For hybrid and remote roles, managers are often an employee’s closest work connection, so companies are shifting what it means to be a manager to ease loneliness and support distributed teams.
Emerging Job Trends
As we move toward the future of work, it is important to stay informed about emerging job trends that are shaping the employment landscape.
Explore some of the key trends that are expected to shape the job market in the coming years.
Flexible Work Continues To Grow
Remote work has become more prevalent than ever before. Moving forward, workplaces will continue to innovate their labor standards, rethinking the traditional 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday approach.
Experts predict that we’ll see more companies offering four-day workweeks and flexible hours along with hybrid and full-time remote work.
In fact, several global trials are in progress or have already been completed with consistently positive results. This trend increases workplace flexibility and expands potential candidate pools beyond geographical boundaries.
The Gig Economy Is King
More professionals are seeking short-term or flexible work options over traditional full-time roles.
Adapting to the growth in nonlinear career paths, the flexibility simultaneously reduces their overhead. Businesses can work with those who specialize in specific areas for short-term needs, rather than being limited to the skills of their existing workforce.
Organizations are developing strategies for managing their growing gig workforce to support these changes. New and unique challenges, such as worker engagement, retention, and onboarding, are being addressed.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence
Advancements in automation and artificial intelligence have already begun impacting the future of work. Automation that worked quietly behind the scenes is being launched with increasing functionality, accessibility, and wide visibility.
New jobs are being created while existing roles shift. The World Economic Forum predicts that AI and automation will create 97 million new jobs by 2025.
With the growing presence of these technologies, employees need to upskill and prepare for the changing career landscape.
Companies are finding new ways to support their staff in acquiring new skills and adapting to evolving competition driven by the AI landscape.
Skills for the Future
As the job market evolves, so do the skills required for success. In order to thrive and future-proof your career, develop a range of skills that are adaptable and relevant to the evolving needs of businesses.
Adaptability and Flexibility
As the world of work constantly evolves, the ability to adapt to new situations and embrace flexibility is crucial for future success.
Employees who can quickly learn new skills, modify their approaches, and adjust to changing environments will be in high demand.
Sociologist Tracy Bower, Ph.D., identifies resilience as one the eight key aspects of adaptability.
Forward-leaning companies will encourage and support individuals to stay aware of new information, make sense of it, and reinvent themselves accordingly.
With the increasing interconnectedness of the global workforce, collaboration has become more critical. Employees with solid teamwork abilities can effectively work with diverse colleagues, contributing to a more innovative and productive environment.
Emphasizing collaborative efforts requires active listening, empathy, and clear communication to ensure everyone’s ideas are valued and incorporated.
Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s emotions and those of others.
The World Economic Forum highlights the significance of social skills like emotional intelligence in the future of work.
Of the 56 foundational skills they recommend, over half center on interpersonal and self-leadership skills — most of which fall under the umbrella of emotional intelligence.
Individuals with high emotional intelligence can navigate complex social situations, empathize with colleagues, and foster positive work relationships, contributing to a healthier working environment.
In an age where technology plays an essential role in every industry, individual and corporate contributors alike need to continue developing their digital fluency.
Not only do we need to understand and utilize available tools and systems, but we need to embrace new technologies — at more incredible speed — as they emerge.
Inclusive and Diverse Workplaces
In recent years, the importance of fostering inclusive and diverse workplaces has come to the forefront.
Emphasizing the unique contributions that employees from different backgrounds can make to an organization, researchers and business leaders recognize the long-term value of focusing on diversity and inclusion in the evolving world of work.
Benefits of Diversity
Diverse and inclusive workplaces are known to be more innovative and adaptable, capable of tapping into and leveraging the talents and insights of employees with different perspectives.
Some of the notable benefits that research highlights include:
- Enhanced creativity and problem-solving skills
- Better representation of the market and customer base
- Improved employee engagement and retention rates
- Increased revenue and profitability
Studies have long shown a positive correlation between diversity in leadership and overall company performance.
Policies Promoting Inclusivity
To ensure workplace diversity and inclusion, organizations must implement policies and practices that support all employees, regardless of their background.
Some recommended measures to look for in companies you’re considering include:
- Fair recruitment: Businesses identify the best talent using a transparent and unbiased selection process, rather than personal characteristics or generic employability markers.
- Training and education: Organizations build awareness and understanding of unconscious biases for employees through regular training that highlights the value of diversity.
- Inclusive leadership: Previous employees report that leadership inspires and promotes a culture where everyone feels valued.
- Flexible work arrangements: Organizations encourage employees to embrace flexibility. Policies support team needs to balance work with personal responsibilities.
Organizations prioritizing diversity and inclusion will be well-positioned to succeed as the workplace continues to evolve. Not only will they maximize the contributions of their workforce, driving growth, but they’ll also build stable, creative, and agile teams.
Moving Forward Into the Future of Work
As you approach the future of work, recognize the diverse trajectories and trends shaping the landscape. Experts in every field agree that automation and technological advancements will continue to reshape our work.
Some fundamental work trends to watch in the coming years include quiet hiring, increased flexibility, and increasing pressure on managers caught in the middle.
Adapting to these changes and future-proofing your career will require you to be agile and adaptable, ready to implement new strategies, processes, and technologies. Continue to shift your focus on reskilling and upskilling to ensure that you’re competitive and able to meet a hiring manager’s needs.
By rethinking and refining your work, you’ll be more likely to fit into a more inclusive, sustainable, and productive future.