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5 Aspects of the Future Workplace

The future is bright but also complex, confusing, and a little bit frightening. Overall, it’s a lot of change. And as change goes, we have to adapt or risk falling behind. Due to this, I wouldn’t be surprised if, 500 years from now, we turn into little beings with large prefrontal cortexes. After all, the “robots” will do all the heavy lifting for us. I guess time will tell of this surreal reality.
Daniel Zacharias

Matthew Sopiars

July 25, 2023
future workplace

Change is happening at a rapid pace, and we’ve got to keep up. With the shifting work culture, new technologies, and evolving global economy, there’s much to look forward to. And even when sometimes it feels like we’re living in a dystopian world, I, for one, try to remain optimistic about what tomorrow will bring. That’s why I wanted to write this piece and take a trip “back to the future” as we explore five aspects of the future workplace that will become standard in the near term. 

(1) The increasing commonplace of remote work

Truth be told, remote work is already standard. A study compiled by WFH Research found that 27% of all paid work days in early 2023 were done from home. 

And this is just the beginning.

The anticipated growth of remote teams happens because of numerous factors, including:

  • The reduced need for manual labor due to the heightened use of automation.
  • The accessibility and feasibility of remote work owing to the growing use of fast fiber internet worldwide.
  • The increasing possibilities of what can be conducted remotely owing to the introduction of improved virtual reality (VR) technologies.
  • The growing need for skilled workers in fields that can be conducted remotely due to the evolving nature of work.
  • The shifting culture surrounding the perception of work due to the new well-informed and self-aware workforce. 

Of course, the above doesn’t even scratch the surface of why remote work is becoming so popular. But these are certainly some of the primary reasons. In a nutshell, not only is it becoming easier to work remotely, but it’s also becoming more desirable

And in cases where people have to work on-site, it’ll likely become merely hybrid work as full-time on-site work progressively fades out. 

(2) The growing use of artificial intelligence (AI)

If anything makes us think about AI, it’s ChatGPT. The popularity of this tool hasn’t gone unnoticed by anyone who uses social media or reads the news. And it’s mainly because of its vast utility. 

Along with being an excellent source of information, the tool can:

  • Write code.
  • Offer legal advice (with a disclaimer that it’s not a legal professional). 
  • Create cooking recipes.
  • Write articles.
  • Create exercise programs. 
  • Create diet plans.

The list goes on and on.

Basically, ChatGPT is proof that AI tools are starting to do things we thought only humans could do. What’s more, they’re also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They don’t request pay, they don’t need benefits, and they’ll never ask for leave. 

And although AI may never fully replace human creativity, it certainly can take over many jobs that don’t typically have a strong “human element.”

AI excels at task-based assignments, and as the technology develops, we can anticipate that the complexity of the tasks it can complete will also grow. 

Ever heard of Alibaba? The Chinese e-commerce company uses AI to predict consumer purchasing patterns and auto-generate product descriptions. Imagine what else AI could do for a company in the future (especially when augmenting or complementing an experienced human team). 

(3) The necessity of cognitive work

As I’ve mentioned, manual labor will be replaced mainly with automation (as history has already shown). But even a lot of structured task-based jobs (such as coding and accountancy) may end up being the sole responsibility of artificial intelligence.

So we can comfortably anticipate that the role of humans in all of this is to act as “think tanks” using ingenuity, critical thinking, human reasoning, and strategic thought to complete work.

The future workforce will primarily be a cognitive one, where the emphasis is placed on the following:

  • Adaptability
  • Upskilling
  • Emotional intelligence and empathy 
  • Creativity

The future workforce will be expected to think in ways that AI just can’t, that is, as emotional beings capable of logical thinking.

Using their innate humanity, they’ll be expected to create human solutions to problems, provide value to customers, and readily adapt to an ever-increasing pace of change.

People will also be expected to be ready and willing to dispense their current knowledge in favor of new knowledge. 

(4) The shift toward meaningful work

So, I went on quite a bit about the human element in my previous point, and this variable is precisely the reason for point 4.

We’re already seeing signs of the changing attitude of the workforce. A 2020 McKinsey survey showed that 82% of employees consider “purpose” as essential. It’s a new age, and people aren’t just going to work to put food on the table (unless absolutely necessary). 

Employees are looking for work that matters to them. 

And this is primarily due to the sheer quantity of information available to anyone with internet access. We’ve gone from a generation concerned only with survival to a generation worried solely about creating a comfortable life to a generation focused mainly on self-actualization.

I’d call that progress. 

So while it may seem like the new generation is just lazier, perhaps it’s just that they’re reaping the rewards of the efforts of their predecessors. They’re ready to move forward to a better tomorrow. 

(5) The nature of management will change

The traditional management how-to guides just won’t cut it anymore. Previous success was based solely on how managers can assess and evaluate employees. It was also based on how they can provide hands-on assistance as needed.

But now, there’s a new world for managers.

Hybrid or remote work settings, the increasing complexity of training (particularly remotely), and the varied responsibilities brought on by new technologies and tools make management not only a more difficult role but a more diverse one. 

On top of this, the shifting culture means that management should be less “do as you’re told” oriented and more “I see what you mean” focused. Emotional intelligence is rising among employees, and managers are also due to join.

A bright future

The future is bright but also complex, confusing, and a little bit frightening. Overall, it’s a lot of change. And as change goes, we have to adapt or risk falling behind.

Due to this, I wouldn’t be surprised if, 500 years from now, we turn into little beings with large prefrontal cortexes. After all, the “robots” will do all the heavy lifting for us. 

I guess time will tell of this surreal reality.  

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