The present world has changed most of the jobs that we thought no longer exist and have changed others to pave the way for the new requirements of the labour industry. Subsequently, emerging professions have shown up thanks to the new demands that organisations look for.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic pressed the fast-forward button, and we became familiar with the direct, practical future of work in a flash. The most striking lesson – you do not have to be at the office to get your job done – which was already understood in future technology, just never substantiated at scale. We are simply beginning to understand the repercussions of that real-world confirmation.
Key Driving Forces
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a transformation had already started off to propel organizations toward digitization. The global health crisis has accelerated this shift, compelling organizations to figure out effective ways to connect beyond the office premises, and many of these transformations are here to stay. Within the coming few years, much of the workforce will probably see considerable shifts, primarily driven by a slew of prominent existing trends.
The Need to Embrace Future of Work
The IT arena of businesses will dramatically change in the coming five years. Technology will allow businesses to outpace peers, disrupt markets, and enhance customer experience.
However, several tech companies currently trail behind. With 7 out of 10 IT companies expected to be the early birds of technology and over 90% of commodity IT services projected to be outsourced by 2025, the tech industry needs to stay prepared.
The operating model of the IT domain has to transform so that it fits in the post-COVID-19 digital business ecosystem. The legacy operating framework of a centralized IT function that strategizes, creates and operates tech services throughout the organization is too siloed, too slow, and too far from the customers to be efficient.
As such, companies are tailoring their approach to the DNA of the future of work by breaking through the barriers that have prevented them to embrace tech innovations. With technology at the disposal, the future of work brings the promise of better productivity (along with economic growth), enhanced safety, convenience, and efficiency.
In the same vein, let’s delve into some of the industries which need to prioritize the future of work.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought a temporary halt to the most critical in-person medical visits. Virtual care and telehealth suddenly became the primary approaches to consulting healthcare professionals, quickly spurring the industry and customers to adopt the innovative technologies.
The US telehealth players registered US$ 3 Bn revenue overall annually during the pre-COVID era. The key players focused on the “virtual urgent care” segment wherein customers could receive immediate telehealth consultations with medical professionals. Having said that, if the adoption of telehealth continues to speed up and go beyond urgent care, up to US$250 Bn of the US healthcare expenditure can potentially be virtualized.
By accepting the probabilities of a progressive digital future, healthcare organisations can deliver robust customer experiences such as the ability for the physicians to remotely consult with experts around continents, more intuitive customer gateways for test results or prescription refills, and better resources and support for patients to self-manage their health.
As schools slowly return to in-person classrooms, new challenges are coming up too. They have to unleash ways to implement physical distancing and contact tracing to avoid the contagion of the coronavirus among the staff and students.
For this, they will have to invest in tech solutions. Smart cameras with face search features can help with proper contact tracing. Crowd notifications, thermal cameras, and access point detection can help recognise and notify authorities about students not following the physical distancing protocol.
Educational institutions have an opportunity to leverage this momentum to do more than simply tightening their security and include physical distancing norms. The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-forwarded the curve of several schools’ digital syllabus with the shift to remote learning.
Schools seeking to make the most of the public-health crisis can build on this to integrate one-to-one devices or bring your own devices (BYOD). Also, they can use this time to scale up their technology plans like upgrading to Wi-Fi 6.
As the pandemic forced consumers globally to remain indoors at the beginning of 2020, e-commerce witnessed explosive growth. While industry experts and analysts projected sluggish adoption of digital platforms, consistent public health concerns enabled small-scale online enterprises to expand their holiday season revenue pool by more than 100% year-over-year (Y-o-Y).
This switch to online platforms and digital solutions such as delivery automation software has triggered growth in the warehouse, transportation, and delivery jobs. In China alone, delivery, e-commerce, and social media jobs rose by over 5.1 million during the initial half of 2020.
Moving ahead, pay overtime models are rapidly gaining traction in the e-commerce arena as consumers switch to purchasing more expensive items online. Also, subscriptions are a great way for retailers selling low-cost products to add more constancy to their bottom lines. The more solutions that small e-commerce players find to adapt to this new digital-first world, the better they will be able to serve consumers and grow.
Further, adopting artificial intelligence (AI) will also impact workers in the e-commerce industry. Specialised software solutions help tabulate user experience data, manage customer interactions, automate delivery and execute insipid tasks. This enables workers to focus on other aspects of their jobs thus improving productivity and workflow.
AI has truly taken off over the past five years but the tech advances mean that this trend will stay intact through the future. With each passing year, AI is being included in another department or discipline in e-commerce including, delivery automation system.
Given their experiences in other sectors and the emergence of innovative technologies, customers are looking for a cutting-edge, modernised automotive sales journey.
In response to the evolving market ecosystem, new disruptors such as NIO, Tesla, and Canoo are offering new-age vehicles at budget prices. However, their transformation of the customer’s purchasing journey into a simple and smooth experience is posing a huge challenge to the OEMs – Original Equipment Manufacturers.
This is compelling established OEMs to rethink their sales strategy and retail network to fulfill future customer needs and maintain their competitive edge. Given the enormous disruption going forward, changing the sales model is just the first step of the journey toward an entirely new era for the automotive industry.
Advancements in autonomous technologies and electrification demand considerable investments. Refining the sales model can unlock tremendous financial potential by curbing the retail costs by up to 4% and generating yearly savings of over US$1 Bn for mid-sized company sales. This can help OEMs curb some of the investments that are essential to keep up with the disruptive tech transformations.
Governments and Companies Need to Lend a Helping Hand
The degree of workforce transformations triggered by the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the labour trends highlights the urgency for policymakers and organizations to adopt measures to assist additional education and training programs for employees.
Organisations can kick-start with a holistic analysis of what work can be done remotely by emphasising on the tasks involved instead of the entire job. Also, they can play a bigger role in re-educating employees as Amazon, Walmart, and IBM have done.
Others have expedited occupational changes by concentrating on the skills they require, instead of academic qualifications. Also, remote work offers organisations the opportunity to spruce up their diversity by tapping employees who – for family and other purposes – were unable to resettle in the tier-1 cities which were the hubs of capital, talent, and opportunities before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governments should help organizations by enhancing and expanding the digital ecosystem. Even in developed economies, nearly 20% of workers in rural areas do not have access to the internet. Also, policymakers should consider offering protections and benefits to independent employees and to those working to strengthen their knowledge and skills mid-career.
Both policymakers and businesses should team up to aid employees migrating between occupations.
Under the Pact for Skills laid down in the European Union (EU) amidst the COVID-19 crisis, organizations and public officials have put up €7 Bn to improve the competence of about 700,000 automotive workers. In the US, Merck and other large enterprises have pledged over $100 Mn to polish the skill-set of Black workers without a university education and create jobs that they can apply for.
The outcome of such efforts will be a more skilled, more robust, and better-paid workforce – and a stronger and open-minded society.
Technology Will Come in Handy in this Transition
During the initial lockdowns, organisations had equipped themselves with basic technology to keep their employees connected.
As the pandemic prolonged, the ‘work from anywhere’ concept came out as the new normal. Providing both geographic and temporal flexibility to managers and employees alike, ‘work from anywhere’ elucidated several pros and cons. Now, organizations have to create a blueprint that helps prep them up for the long run.
The need of the hour for organizations is to integrate seamless technology that intentionally prioritises employee wellbeing and allows employees to ‘work from anywhere but together’. Tech-enabled solutions need to virtually mimic the immersive experience of the physical workplace and support video conferencing when needed.
The suitable tech solution will make employees feel like a member of the larger organizational framework and not as individuals helping in a particular task. That is why, in present times, to remain competitive, organizations are strategically embracing tech-driven innovations to pull in the proper skill-set and improve efficiency.
Tracing the Way Forward
While it is still uncertain when the COVID-19 pandemic will subside, what is clear is that our work life will change forever. Even though there is no proper method to anticipate the future, the present trends within the workforce already offer astounding insights on how the future of the work will operate and affect organizations.
For better collaboration and communication, more investments will be done on leading-edge tech solutions that make remote working more productive and functional. Also, the focus on data security will rise, making it necessary for businesses to invest in technologies and make sure that confidential data is not compromised.
No matter your industry, it is paramount that you keep tabs on the current trends to set your business up for future endeavors.
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