The future of work is no longer a vision from the novels of Philip K Dick. The future of work is already here and impacting on businesses, communities and individuals.
Accordingly, changing social values and business needs have combined with the new digital economy and technology evolution to create a new kind of worker. This new worker is agile, mobile, creative, demanding and unwilling to accept outdated ways of working.
And businesses need to embrace these changes in order not just to survive, but to thrive and grow. There is ample research (see references below) that shows that engaging with these new workers leads to tangible business improvements. For example, increased performance, improved staff attraction and retention, reduced costs and competitive advantage.
The future of work is not what it was.
In the past, everyone worked in set places at set times, in highly controlled and closely managed environments. They also undertook repetitive, unimaginative tasks, the success of which were measured in hours spent rather than quality or output.
But this is not what the future looks like. Because we now want to work for who we want; when, where and how we want. And we need jobs that require creative input, with limited oversight, where we are measured on output.
Some started on this journey nearly two decades ago (organisations like BT and the AA have long used flexible working to improve performance and reduce costs). Others have only recently embarked or have yet to see the need to change.
However, momentum is growing. Not only are businesses seeing the need to change, but other organisations are looking to provide guidance. Forum for the Future, B Corporation and GoGreen to name but a few. And problems like congestion and public transport are hot topics for local authorities and think tanks alike.
The future of work is already here
Changes in the way we work also link to other ideas and thinking around the globe. Like the idea of circular economics, from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation and environmental issues like transport, pollution, waste management and energy.
So the future of work is not just about a few young people harnessing technology. It is about changing the way we work to improve heakth, welfare, communities and the planet as a whole. The future will not be the same as the past and it is not waiting round the corner…the future is already here.
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