Future of work is a topic that has been relentlessly covered in the news cycle, even before the pandemic. But the possibilities of what work in 10, 20, or 30 years could be like was put on steroids during the pandemic. We were forced to think about engaging with co-workers remotely and new business models that didn’t rely on in-person interaction. Many 21st century technologies have brought rapid disruptions to the way we work, requiring ongoing adjustments and upskilling. In this article we’ll explore future of work trends, their impact on consulting, and how to prepare for the future of work.
Table of Contents:
- What Is The Future Of Work?
- Future Of Work In Consulting
- Deloitte Future Of Work
- McKinsey Future Of Work
- Future Of Work Trends
- How To Prepare For The Future Of Work
What Is The Future Of Work?
What is the future of work? Of course, if you ask ten people this question, you’ll get ten different answers. But we can look at some research done by highly prestigious organizations.
First, consider the impact of automation. In the coming decades – according to the OECD’s data – 32% of jobs will change significantly, and 15% of jobs could be automated. The worldwide supply of industrial robots is growing quickly. Communication technologies, worker preferences for work-life balance, and the potential for cost reduction are likely to lead to more workers collaborating remotely and living outside traditional technology hubs like San Francisco. Knowing how to analyze, code, and program data is also becoming increasingly important. In addition, knowing how to leverage Artificial Intelligence will become a requirement for many jobs.
Finally, jobs themselves are changing. People are becoming more likely to switch jobs frequently and/or function as independent contractors. This may require governments to reimagine the social safety net (i.e., unemployment, health insurance, retirement plans) which is traditionally tied to full-time work in the U.S.
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Future Of Work In Consulting
Many future of work factors in consulting can be articulated through three powerful forces shaping the future of work:
- Artificial Intelligence and the automation it enables
- The mixture of employees and contractors firm use to get work done
- Hybrid work (the combination of on-site and remote work firms will require)
Consultants will be impacted by these forces both in terms of client work, and how they engage with clients. Deloitte and McKinsey both have important future of work perspectives that we can look at to give insight into the future of work in consulting.
Deloitte Future Of Work
The Deloitte future of work perspective focuses on the fast adoption of Artificial Intelligence and the mix of full-time employees and contractors that firms use. It writes about workforce ecosystems in which internal and external team members must be integrated and managed. In some sense, use of Artificial Intelligence can be thought of as one type of contributor or team member. AI tools work alongside the full-time employees and consultants to solve problems and accomplish difficult tasks.
Deloitte points out that organizations often have management systems and processes built for teams of full-time employees that don’t always work well with a mixed team of internal and external contributors. The future of work will require designing new ways to integrate those various pieces.
McKinsey Future Of Work
The McKinsey future of work perspective leads clearly with the growing adoption of Artificial Intelligence, automation, e-commerce, and robotics. The firm believes that the pandemic significantly accelerated these trends. In fact, McKinsey now believes that 25% more workers than previously estimated will have to switch jobs due to changes in the future of work. McKinsey points out that while technologies and global trade linkages were already changing the landscape of work before Covid-19, changes to the physical dimension of work will outlive the pandemic. Even jobs that previously “required” an in-person aspect were proved to be able to be performed remotely, such as many jobs in healthcare.
Perhaps most striking though, is McKinsey’s perspective on shifts away from low-wage jobs to high-wage jobs. It notes that firms and governments need to find ways to upskill employees in critical thinking skills, engaging with data, and problem-solving in new types of jobs. McKinsey suggests that traditional academic degrees will need to be supplemented by shorter term credentialing and certificate programs to help workers rapidly acquire new skills. Consultants may find themselves engaged in helping companies upskill their workforce.
Future Of Work Trends
Future of work trends including many topics we have already mentioned:
- Implementation of Artificial Intelligence in data analysis, customer service, logistics, and many other areas
- Factory automation driven by adoption of robotics
- Remote work enabled by new collaboration and communication platforms
- New mixes of employee and contractor teams within organizations
- New ways to find work-life balance by working remotely and at various “off-hours”
- An increasing need for employees to understand data analysis and coding
- Job requirements that change faster than ever before, requiring constant upskilling
The gig economy and the future of work are clearly related. Both highly skilled software engineers and Uber drivers can be members of the new gig economy and need to pay attention to future of work trends.
How To Prepare For The Future Of Work
If you’re asking how to prepare for the future of work, there are 2 things to be aware of:
- Adopting a new mindset
- Building out your resume and skill-set
First, the future of work requires a new mindset about your career. Embrace a mindset of being open to the inevitable changes the future of work will bring, even if you don’t know the details yet. That’s half the battle of staying professionally relevant.
Secondly, you can put in work to upskill and prepare for the future of work. There are courses you can take as it relates to Artificial Intelligence, coding, working with different types of software, etc. You may even want to consider an MBA – whether a full-time, part-time, or executive MBA. There are many programs available that don’t require you to quit your day job.
There are other licenses that you can obtain while working, such as the CFA or PMP. You could attend a coding bootcamp or gain credentials from an online learning platform like Coursera or Udemy to gain knowledge around specific topics relevant to the future of work.
The potential for disruption in the way we work is both exciting and scary. The workplace of the future will have myriad opportunities and risks associated with it. There will be a steep learning for many, but with the right mindset and approach, the future of work looks bright.
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