What does the future of work hold?
In a world where it’s impossible to predict what will happen tomorrow, it’s a tough question to answer. But businesses that hope to emerge from the global pandemic in a stronger, better position need to be thinking about – and planning for future models – today.
What will the workforce, work models and the work environment look like in 2035? And how will technology shape them?
To find out, Citrix teamed up with futurist consultancy Oxford Analytica and business research specialist Coleman Parkes to survey over 1,000 employees within large corporations and mid-market businesses across the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France and the Netherlands on current and future workforce strategies and work models. And here’s what was learned:
Robots will not replace humans
But they will make us smarter and more efficient. Three-quarters (74%) of UK respondents believe that in fifteen years, artificial intelligence (AI) will significantly speed up the decision-making process and make workers more productive.
New jobs will be created
New roles will emerge to support a technology-driven workplace and the changing relationship between humans and machines. Here are the positions UK respondents believe will be created:
- Robot / AI trainer (78% of leaders/42% of employees)
- Virtual reality manager (85% of leaders/34% of employees)
- Advanced data scientist (76% of leaders/28% of employees)
- Privacy and trust manager (74% of leaders/24% of employees)
- Design thinker (49% of leaders/20% of employees)
Work will be more flexible
Technology that allows for seamless access to the tools and information people need to collaborate and get work done wherever they happen to be will fuel flexible models that the future of work will demand.
- 59% of UK professionals (business leaders and workers combined) believe that a “platform” model – which creates value by facilitating exchanges between groups or individuals using digital technology – will dominate work in the future.
- 56% of UK workers believe permanent employees will become rare by 2035.
- 75% of UK leaders believe that technology platforms will provide instant access to the highly specialised, on-demand talent required to power future organisations and accommodate rapid changes in business and customer needs.
- 54% of UK leaders believe that in 2035, the majority of high-value specialist workers will work as on-demand and freelance contractors.
Leadership will have a new look
More than half of UK respondents (57%) believe AI has the potential to make the majority of business decisions by 2035 and potentially eliminate the need for traditional senior management teams.
- 69% of UK professionals think most organisations will have a central AI department overseeing all areas of the business.
- 63% of UK respondents believe that the CEO will work in a human-machine partnership with a Chief of Artificial Intelligence (CAI).
Productivity will get a major boost
Technology, closely integrated with humans, will drive step changes in productivity as workers are supported by solutions that enable them to perform at their best. “AI-ngels” – digital assistants driven by AI – will draw on personal and workplace data to help employees prioritise their tasks and time and ensure mental and physical wellness. These worker augmented assistants will, for example, schedule meetings to take place at the most effective time based on factors ranging from the blood sugar levels of participants to their sentiments at different times of day. And while the meetings are taking place, they will monitor concentration levels and attitudes and adjust as necessary to drive optimal outcomes.
Professionals in the UK are the most sceptical of technology’s potential to make workers more productive. Yet, on average, they still believe that technology will increase productivity by 87% by 2035, as opposed to a global average of 102%. Among the solutions they believe will be commonplace:
- AI that anticipates and performs tasks based on habits and preferences
- AI nudges
- AI personal assistants
- AI-guided digital wellness to ensure employees’ mental and physical wellbeing
- Wearable technology to interact with systems
- Augmented reality glasses
- Neuro-linked technology for controlling devices
- Exoskeletons to enhance performance-related tasks
Employee engagement will improve
As technology and AI takes over time-consuming, mundane tasks, work will become more strategic and employees more engaged.
- 82% of UK professionals believe that by 2035, technology will automate low-value tasks, freeing workers to focus on the meaningful work they want and are paid to do.
- 72% of UK professionals say it will be a significant factor in upskilling human workers, creating new opportunities for personal development and career growth.
Innovation and growth will soar
Organisations will invest more in technology and AI than human capital. This will open the door to unprecedented levels of innovation and new revenue streams and fuel sustainable growth – particularly among small businesses.
- 93% of UK business leaders believe that in 2035, AI technology investment will be the biggest driver of growth for their organisation.
- 58% of UK leaders believe that by 2030, AI will generate more revenue for their organisation than human workers.
- 59% of UK professionals believe that technology will level the playing field and convey advantage to small companies.
Businesses that embrace technology’s potential to boost productivity, improve employee engagement and drive innovation today can get a head-start on creating the more intelligent workplace of the future.”
“By adopting more flexible work models and using technology to better support workers, organisations can not only empower staff to work more productively in the way that suits them but also free employees up to focus on more meaningful and rewarding work.”