The Future of Work: The Role of People
Foreword by Joseph Sweeney, IBRS Advisor
For the past 30 years, organisations have applied technology to people to make the workplace more productive. But despite substantial investments in technology, productivity has grown annually on average at just 1.8 percent. Something was not working.
During the last few years, we’ve seen a shift in power. Instead of organisations dictating technology, increasingly people are choosing the technology they wish to apply in the workplace. Initially seen as a problem, shadow IT, is now accepted and embraced.
Leading organisations are discovering that the people doing the work are most effective when given freedom to determine how the work gets done. It is the essence of workforce innovation. The search for productivity will continue, but will be increasingly driven by people considering the way they do job, looking at the tools and platforms available both within and outside of the business, and finding small, iterative improvements.
In short, we are in the midst of the technological democratisation of the workplace. At the same time, technology is displacing people in the workplace.
In developed Asia Pacific economies, automation is already eliminating mid-level service roles. In developing economies, automation is altering traditional roles and reshaping manufacturing and agriculture. Jobs are becoming casualised. But the geographic borders of work are breaking down. The gig economy is on the rise. Soon, it will not just be democratised technology that people can select to improve their work processes, but human capital based not on location, but specific talents.
In the coming decade, organisations that take the lead will be those with a learning culture; where workers are given both time and bounded permission to experiment with how work gets done, to choose the technological tools and hiring of specific talent on an as-needed basis, where staff are increasingly empowered to look across traditional departmental silos and make decisions to improve customer’s journeys.
This is the future of work.