The world of work is constantly changing. Concepts that our parents or grandparents grew up with, such as the nine-to-five office and the job-for-life, are being consigned to the past.
Technology is clearly a driver behind much of this. However, societal changes such as aging populations in many developed countries and a growing understanding of the environmental impact of working practices are important factors, too.
In 2024, we can expect to see further development of many of the trends that have reshaped our working lives in recent years. However, the impact of breakthrough technologies (particularly AI) will be felt more keenly than ever as the rate of adoption accelerates. This wave of digitization and transformation will affect everyone, even those outside of the high-tech industries and tech-focused roles where it is already the norm.
This set of trends focuses on changes that will impact our working lives on a day-to-day basis. Look at it as a heads-up for those who want to get ahead. Or for bosses or managers, it can be thought of as pointers for where to focus your efforts to ensure your workforce is ready to face the biggest challenges of 2024.
This is probably the big one. There’s a popular line of thought today that AI won’t replace jobs – but people who can use AI will replace people who can’t. Generative AI tools are quickly evolving to the point where they offer solutions that can increase efficiency in just about any task or line of work. But remember – a big part of becoming a proficient AI-augmented worker is understanding its limitations and knowing where you still need to apply human creativity, compassion and innovation!
Sustainable Working Practices
In my opinion, this is the most important area in which we have to make conscious changes to our behavior. Understanding and reducing the impact of our actions on our environment and planet requires rethinking many aspects of our working lives, from where we work to how we create and implement circular processes that reduce wastage and encourage recycling and re-use of resources.
As technology transforms more areas of work and business, ensuring we’re equipped to use it effectively is a priority for us all, from understanding the importance of data-driven decision-making to developing an awareness of cyber threats, developing emotional intelligence and empathy to counter for technology’s lack of it, and adopting the shift in mindset needed to work or lead effectively when your team is spread around the world. Perhaps no one can be expected to affect all of these changes, but understanding which are relevant to your role and responsibilities is the key.
Organizations understand that today, customer experience is key to developing lifelong relationships and generating recurring business. Equally so, they are starting to understand the importance of ensuring that workers are satisfied across the board rather than just adequately remunerated. This takes in work/life balance, wellness, intellectual challenge, and personal growth and development. In 2024, if your employer doesn’t come up to scratch here, it should become increasingly easy to find one that does.
Changing Workplace Demographics
Populations are aging, international migration is increasing, workers' skills are being boosted up the chain of command, and organizations are increasingly aware of the value that diversity and inclusion bring to any workforce. All of these shifts mean that traditional hierarchies are being shaken up, and traditional ideas about who our co-workers might be are going out of the window in 2024 and beyond. The tolerance for anachronisms such as the gender pay gap will decline, and factors such as age, race or even level of traditional educational attainment will be less of a barrier to progression. Those who are flexible in the face of this change will not be short of opportunities.
Digitization and Datafication of Work
In 2024, data impacts every aspect of our working lives – from the metrics that are used to assess productivity to the information we leverage to make better decisions and implement more efficient processes. For those who want to make their mark, a basic ability to knock together a spreadsheet in Excel isn’t going to cut it in 2024. Understanding how to use data to assist our day-to-day tasks doesn’t mean studying for a degree in data science, but it does mean having an overview of the tools and platforms that are becoming available and learning how to spot opportunities to use them.
With today’s pace of change, education can no longer be thought of as a process we go through in youth that will equip us with skills for life. Businesses will require workforces to take part in ongoing training in order to keep skills up-to-date or reskill in emerging technologies, particularly those involving data and AI. A diverse range of opportunities mainly focused on online learning, will be available for those who want to take the initiative and ensure they are personally equipped for the future.
The Decentralized Workplace
Remote working was a necessity for many of us during the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, we might choose it because we prefer the benefits it brings to work/life balance, or we’re more productive without wasting time (and money) commuting. Or because we want to leverage the ability to build a truly globalized and decentralized workforce. In 2024, more of us will choose hybrid working arrangements, combining the collaborative and cultural benefits of face-to-face co-working with the flexibility of remote working.