What is the Future of Work? | Human Capital | Deloitte Netherlands

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What is the Future of Work?

Redefining work, workforces, and workplaces

Forces of change are affecting three major dimensions of work: the work itself, who does the work, and where work is done. To create value from these changes, organizations should take a broader perspective.

The Future of Work

What does this term really mean? Much discussion has focused on artificial intelligence and whether or not robots will take our jobs, but cognitive technologies are only one aspect of the massive shift that is under way. To understand what’s going on and, more importantly, what we can do about it, it’s important to consider multiple converging trends and how they are already fundamentally changing all aspects of work—with implications for individuals, businesses, and society.

We define the future of work as a result of many forces of change affecting three deeply connected dimensions of an organization: work (the what), the workforce (the who), and the workplace (the where). Interested? Download the full article to read more.

What is the Future of Work?

Work: What will the work look like?

This isn’t the first time that the western society has completely changed its cultural idea of work. In the preindustrial economy, work was synonymous with craftsmanship, the creation of products or the delivery of complete outcomes. The craftsman took end-to-end responsibility for delivering the product or outcome—a cobbler, for instance, would do everything from measure the customer’s feet to make final adjustments in the finished pair of shoes. The industrial revolution changed this conception of work, as industrialists realized that products could be manufactured faster and cheaper if end-to-end processes were atomized into repeatable tasks in which workers (and, later, machines) could specialize. The notion of a “job” became that of a collection of tasks, not necessarily related to each other, rather than an integrated set of actions that delivered a complete product or outcome.

Workforce: Rethinking talent models

As labor-sourcing options increase, it opens up the possibility for more efficiency and creativity in composing an organization’s workforce. But with more options often comes more complexity. Employers should not only consider how roles are crafted when pairing humans with machines, but also the arrangement of their human workforce and what type(s) of employment are best suited to obtain the creativity, passion, and skill sets needed for the work at hand. Orchestrating this complex use of different workforce segments might require new models. It could fundamentally change our view of the employee life cycle from the traditional “attract, develop, and retain” model to one where the key questions are how organizations should access, curate, and engage workforces of all types (see the sidebar, “Beyond the employee life cycle”).

Workplace: Rethinking where work gets done

As the “who” and the “what” of work shift, so does the workplace. Where once physical proximity was required for people to get work done, the advent of digital communication, collaboration platforms, and digital reality technologies, along with societal and marketplace changes, have allowed for and created the opportunity for more distributed teams. Organizations are now able to orchestrate a range of options as they reimagine workplaces, from the more traditional colocated workplaces to those that are completely distributed and dependent on virtual interactions.

Again, changing the physical workplace should not be seen simply as an opportunity to increase efficiency or to reduce real estate costs. Workplace culture is highly connected to both innovation and business results, and as teams become more distributed, organizations might need to rethink how they foster both culture and team connections.

More information

For more information about the Future of Work, please contact Bart Moen or Robert van Barlingen via the contact details below.

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