3 Questions to Ask About the “Future of Work” 

By MBO Partners | February 14, 2024


Key Points

How will things look in 5, 10, 20 years? And how can we prepare ourselves today for the most likely scenario?

The topic of “the future of work” became particularly prominent after the COVID-19 pandemic.

These three questions can be asked at any point to get insight into the future of work.

The future. It’s always out on the horizon. How will things look in 5, 10, 20 years? And how can we prepare ourselves today for the most likely scenario?

The” future of work” has become a buzz phrase. What does it actually mean? The world of work has always shifted and changed in response to technological advances and workforce preferences. However, the topic of “the future of work” became particularly prominent after the COVID-19 pandemic. Such a major disruption in the way work was done shook up everything and prompted even more focus on the future by business pundits.

Where Tomorrow is Today

In some ways, the pandemic sped up the future. Remote work, for example, was already gaining a foothold in many business sectors. When the pandemic hit it quickly became the option for occupations once thought impossible to pursue outside the office. Another example is in team operations, where digital interaction through collaboration and project management platforms turned mainstream and is now an established way of working. Paperless interaction from email communication to the signing of legal documentation, again already established in some sectors, is now business as usual.

3 Questions to Ask

What does the future of work look like now? How will the shifts in where and how work gets done since the pandemic influence businesses and markets? Further, how will the workforce and organizational structure be affected These three questions can help focus current events on future outcomes.

Who will do the work?

Until recently the answer has been “people,” in one form or another. Employees and independent professionals work side by side on teams, and many companies are optimizing their workforces to achieve a strategic mix of these.

Now a third member of the workforce has walked on stage. Artificial intelligence has taken on several roles—assistant to human workers and empowering data-based decision-making among others. Considering AI another worker group can help teams optimize the ways they work with it. It can also help enterprises adapt as AI continues to evolve.

How will work be accomplished?

The addition of AI to the workforce is affecting job roles and team operations. Savvy leadership is moving toward skills-based talent management, where needs are defined through skills rather than job titles. Skills assessment can help identify high-value skills that need human workers and also note skills that fit AI capabilities. In addition, soft skills, at this point not part of AI’s toolset, are becoming more important in talent acquisition.

Temporary teams, enabled by a skills-based organization, will improve enterprise agility. Members coming together for projects and then dispersing to move to other teams when results have been achieved will allow fast response to economic and market changes.

Where will the work be done?

The remote/hybrid model with continue to take hold in the workplace, in large part by demands from high-value workers in the younger generations. Technology advances will continue to support remote work. As a result, physical space needs will change significantly along with how that space is configured.

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