Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted lives and livelihoods globally, in ways that will last for a very long time. However, with the vaccines rolling out successfully across the world, it seems we are finally heading towards the faint light flickering at the end of the darkest of all tunnels.
Although the uncertainty is still pretty much there owing to the fresh rise in cases of the Omicron variant, a lot of research have come up with predictions that say we still have a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the future. While we are at it, let us quickly check out five such predictions that suggest a better future for working lives:
Hybrid is the new Norm
A lot around us have changed ever since the pandemic started, but if we look closely, most of these changes are only accelerated by COVID-19, not caused by it. Based on that fact, a lot can be predicted about how the future of work will look like. Various surveys were conducted over the past two years, and the results show that hybrid working, i.e. a mix of both in-office and remote working, is here to stay, which itself cues for a shift in mindsets for employers, as well.
As per that arrangement, tracking results over working hours will become the norm. However, the reformed parameters of productivity along with hybrid working model further require the leadership as well as the management to develop soft skills and emotional intelligence for smoother operations, going forward. Once again, the crisis has brought into light the importance of upskilling and reskilling of employees to survive and thrive in the ever-evolving work eco-system.
After markets were opened towards the end of the second wave of the pandemic, multiple surveys have reported widespread distrust for returning to business as usual. This led to the debut of stakeholder capitalism, where organizations consider all their stakeholders, including producers, suppliers, distributors and customers while making decisions. Very much like a bridge between businesses and communities, the concept is being adopted by corporations in order to build trust, or social capital, to be able to keep doing business.
Future is Green
Amidst the process of adjusting to the new normal, we can see a number of countries including the UK, Japan, South Korea, the US, Canada and Nigeria taking the global health crisis as an opportunity to introduce environmental policies in their recovery strategies. While this is a significant step indeed, green measures do not come without challenges. More than 1.47 billion global jobs depend on a stable climate, and the implementation of the green policies will lead to inevitable job losses. Furthermore, the lost jobs will not reappear automatically in the same industries they were lost in.
All of these points towards the fact that in order to keep up within the greening of economies, one cannot underestimate the room for skills development. Maintaining labor market mobility, as well as flexibility via reskilling and up-skilling is absolutely crucial at this point. One just cannot deny the massive role of skilling in an economy’s progress towards green transition; as both these factors are inter-related.
Prioritize Protecting People, not Jobs
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has single-handedly accelerated the digital transformation. But while the digital transformation might have boosted productivity, that should not be an excuse for undermining companies’ and workers’ growth and well-being. And one of the primary steps towards ensuring the same is focusing on reskilling and up-skilling of the workforce.
It is high time for organizations to start protecting people, not jobs. Reskilling and upskilling is a stepping stone towards empowering your employees, and supporting them through lifelong learning. As highlighted at the recent World Economic Forum Job Reset Summit, if the current trends continue, by 2030, over half of all young people across the world will not have the skills required for the jobs of the future.
That suggests, while digital transformations will continue bringing in new disruptions, there should be better investments for reskilling, up-skilling and role redeployment, going forward. This does not only benefit the employees, but also the employers. After all, retraining existing employees is cheaper than rehiring.
Bank on Resilience and Adaptibility
The sudden onset of the pandemic was enough to force the world to transform overnight. It did not take much time for e-commerce to become the norm, and almost every sector, including education, logistics and healthcare adopted altered ways of working in order to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines. An entire storm of disruptions took over, and the disruptions offered an abundance of scope for entrepreneurs.
A flood of new small businesses was witnessed in many countries around the world. While that is definitely an inspiring piece of news, we should not neglect the established businesses, and instead, be supportive to bring them back into the world of work.
As per research, the journey back to business requires building resilience and adaptability, for both companies and the employees in them. But additionally, we must make sure that skills development and active labor market policies are also there to ensure quicker redeployment of workers whose jobs are under risk of becoming redundant or have already been lost.
The world of work have always been evolving. However, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last two years have witnessed the fasted ever transformations in history. The new norm in the work eco-system must put emphasis on the ever more diverse forms of work, including temporary, agency, and platform work, and we must ensure that social protections, career and skills development, and good quality work is available to all.