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At Working the Future, we carry out our own expert analysis of the rapid pace of change that is occurring across key over-arching themes, some of which we've listed here. We carry this out on an almost constant basis, to ensure that the future of work insights and knowledge that we share with our clients are always on-point and relevant to their requirements, helping them to keep ahead of the curve.
Obviously, there are myriad socio-cultural trends, shifts and undercurrents that are likely to influence the future of work significantly moving forward, but here we’ve shortlisted five key areas that are set to make an impact in 2019… Below them, you'll find the core future of work themes and areas that we're tracking on an ongoing basis, to help inform our thinking.
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2018 was arguably the year that Facebook fell from media grace. The controversy around data-harvesting, the manipulation of social media in the run-up to key elections and votes internationally, and ensuing data breaches continues apace, with convincing evidence in short supply that the behemoth intends to take meaningful steps to act more responsibly moving forward.
In 2019, expect to see the emergence of greater public discourse around the extent to which modern social and communications technology has been designed specifically to draw us in and hook us on dopamine-inducing news feeds and cycles. There’s an epidemic of attention deficit playing out at the precise moment in history when we need most focus on how we, as humans, remain relevant in the future of work, so no doubt we’ll see growing awareness of the need to reclaim a piece of the attention economy, in a world where ‘skim’ culture seems to be at the fore.
Just when we thought we’d got our heads around the emergent behaviours and drivers of the Millennial generation, along come the Centennials. Also known as iGen or Gen Z, Centennials are those young folks born any time after 2000. Bloomberg estimates that this cohort will comprise 32% of the global population in 2019.
As the rising costs, and indeed relevance, of university education render it potentially less enticing than for previous generations, Centennials will continue to enter the workplace in increasing numbers in 2019, and, being the first generation to have grown up ‘hyper-connected’ – not as mere ‘digital natives’ like their older siblings – with continuous access to 24/7/365 media consumption, their attitudes, behaviours and motivations will once again be considerably different to what we’ve seen before, requiring yet more nuanced, smart approaches to how we recruit, motivate and retain younger members of staff.
Retention will continue to be a centre-stage topic of conversation in most boardrooms; according to research undertaken by the UK CIPD in partnership with Hays in 2017, the rate of staff turnover is on the rise, and our conversations with both corporates and SMEs throughout the course of 2018 suggests the churn trend continues to be a challenge.
As workers come to terms with the fact that they’re likely to be working longer than their forebears, it stands to reason that they’ll want and demand more flexibility from their work to meet the needs of their changing personal circumstances throughout the course of their lives. We predict that those organisations that are flexible and savvy enough to adapt to curate morepersonalised work journeys for their colleagues will both benefit from improved loyalty and retention, but are also likely to enjoy greater organisational resilience in work’s evolving future.
If 2018 showed us anything, it was that change and uncertainty pervade all aspects of the world we now live in. 2018 was the year of unprecedented climatic events, presidential and other political manoeuvring, and the continued emergence of stories of commercial impropriety, corrupt elites and leadership failures that have all significantly eroded trust in authority as we know it. We don’t expect this global volatility to self-correct any time soon.
Being able to survive and thrive in increasing uncertainty will require us to be able to flex in both our thinking and response to continuous change and circumstances we feel we have increasingly little control over. We expect to see continued public discourse and awareness around the importance of purpose and meaning in our lives, and also the continued growth of intervention approaches such as mindfulness and meditation in our workspaces.
Last year, the UK-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported on data published by the DWP, showing in-work poverty (defined as affecting those in households where the household income is below the poverty threshold, despite one member of the household working either full or part-time) to have leapt by 300,000 from the previous year.
With zero-hours contracts now widely used to maximise workforce flexibility and drive profit, and with much-needed resources and attention being diverted due to Brexit, we don’t think in-work poverty is likely to disappear any time soon, sadly. However, we do expect awareness of this socio-cultural issue to grow and even potentially the emergence of additional grass-roots movements to try to tackle it, in the absence of any meaningful governmental leadership on the matter.
Business and consumers resigned to doing 'more with less'
The rise of environmentally efficient and sustainable business
Increased social collaboration to solve global challenges
The rise of the environmental migrant
The rise of urbanisation