Why the Future of Work Will Change

August 9, 2019

There are several important factors that are and will continue to drive organizations to re-think how work is done going forward.

Increasing productivity is a big challenge for established economies and organizations. A recent survey by McKinsey reported that labor productivity growth - a key driver of economic growth - has slowed in many economies, dropping to an average of 0.5 percent in 2010–2014 from 2.4 percent a decade earlier in the United States and major European economies. Without radically changing how work is done, this will place a major brake on an organization’s ability to grow.

To compound challenges of productivity, talent shortages will also have a significant impact on the growth potential of a business. With unemployment rates in developed countries already at their lowest in more than 40 years, finding the right talent is already a problem. Recent research conducted by Korn Ferry indicated this will become a major crisis -- a seismic shock that will impact organizations and economies around the world. Global labor shortages of 85.2 million skilled workers are projected by 2030, resulting in lost revenue opportunities of $8.452 trillion – the combined GDP of Germany and Japan.

Another issue impacting the future of work is the changing expectations of customers, which has been driven by the innovation of FANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) and other Tech upstarts across a broad range of industries. This in itself, is forcing established organizations to transform how they do business and adopt new innovative ways of working.

Development in AI and Automation technologies present the opportunity for organizations to address these critical challenges. Many start by augmenting their human workforce with technology that can automate repetitive activities. Additionally, they provide analytical capabilities that simplify complex decision making and provide workers with new insights. McKinsey estimated that productivity growth could potentially reach 2 percent annually over the next decade, with 60 percent of this increase from digital initiatives that leverage AI & Automation.

The reality is that technology is not going to replace the workforce entirely because there are too many essential activities that can only be performed by humans. Including building rapport and relationships, changing behavior in our communication based on empathy with another person situation, making decisions based on judgment and principles, being creative, and finding solutions to problems where pre-defined answers do not fit.

Outside of what might be technically possible with AI, ethics, managing bias and industry regulations are issues that will force human oversight of these technologies. These issues will create new job functions and significant employment opportunities, as adoption increases.

Those companies that succeed in the future will have mastered how to orchestrate the workflow of businesses processes that bring together the best of human and computing capabilities.