4 Things That Will Redefine the Way We Work By 2025
Desmond Dickerson, Manager, Center for the Future of Work, Cognizant
As we strive to build back better, four key changes to how we work will be necessary over the next five years.
- “Remotopia”: work from home – from the margins to the mainstream
At the outset of 2020, less than 5% of workers did their jobs remotely. Now, more than half of knowledge workers work remotely. In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a number of high-profile companies – Facebook, Google, PayPal, Shopify, Siemens, and more – have announced long-term or permanent remote work policies.
Remote working arrangements, which are new to many companies and workers, require vastly different ways of thinking and collaborating. For example, the emerging normalcy of distributed workforces will place even greater importance on soft skills such as communication, relatability, empathy, and flexibility.
- Blue collar. White collar. Green collar?
Over the past decade, digital transformation has turned every company into a tech company. The next decade is likely to see similar transformation in sustainability policies and strategies. As new regulations and new technologies give way to new platforms and ways of doing business, the workers behind it must evolve. The rise of “green collar” jobs represents great opportunity for job creation and will be a salvation to many workers whose jobs will be eliminated by new policies around industrial carbon cuts or automation.
As every business becomes a green business, organizations will need to train green collar workers to combine tech skills with domain-specific training in environmentally-friendly business processes. These green collar jobs will range from solar installation technicians to ESG Directors that manage an organization’s overall portfolio of climate change reduction efforts.
- The gig economy evolution
On-demand labour platforms like TaskRabbit and Uber have helped normalize the gig economy, providing a platform for ad hoc tasks to be completed by freelance workers. That normalization, along with new technologies, has opened the door for the freelancing of white collar jobs like marketing, management, engineering – and even finance. In years past, freelancing was viewed as a last resort for individuals that struck out in traditional roles or for those that were otherwise undesirable employees. Now, the most talented individuals are betting on themselves.
Freelancing offers agility to companies that must adapt to unexpected challenges and provides freedom to workers who want flexible and remote work arrangements. Embracing this shift positions all parties to succeed in the future of work, no matter where or when that happens.
- Automation and AI augment the workforce
Computers and software will not be able to replicate human creativity. While some manual labour will indeed be eliminated by intelligent machines, far more jobs will be augmented by them. The previously labour-intensive roles will see more dangerous tasks offloaded to machines. This gives rise to roles like “Man-Machine Teaming Managers” that will analyse business functions to assess the proper mix of human and robotic workflows. This is one of many other roles that will emerge at the intersection of human creativity and machine efficiency.
The COVID-19 pandemic represents an inflection point that will significantly re-shape the future of work over the next five years – and likely beyond. Understanding the second and third order effects of the pandemic are mind-bending, but key to successfully navigating the future of work.