We are witnessing a period of fundamental change in the nature of work and the workplace—driven by technology, demographics and newer insights into what drives the organisation and people effectiveness. A number of recent studies, including those conducted by PwC globally and in India have shed light on the three inter-related mega-trends that are shaping the future of our work.
Workplace technology: Technology has driven a greater degree of connectedness than ever visualised before, and driven behavioural changes too in how employees interact with the workplace and with each other. For instance, in a study of millennials, 41% said they would rather communicate electronically at work than face to face, or even over the telephone. Social media, and other technologies coupled with greater penetration of mobility products are blurring the line between work and life. While they allow employees to collaborate across time zones and geographies, they can also be very intrusive and bring into question the concept of the ‘workplace’ as being a distinct physical space where work gets done.
From an HR perspective, over a period of time these technologies are also expected to provide a mine of information into employee behaviours and preferences—organisations are already seeking newer methodologies and tools to capture, analyse and convert structured and unstructured people data for better decision making at all levels. The increasing use of technology also poses pressing questions around the role of individuals in decision making, individual privacy, ethics of data usage and governance norms that organisations must appreciate and aim for a framework of response.
Organisation effectiveness: Following close on the footsteps of workplace technology are the changes in organisation design, role definition and performance management. Future organisation structures are likely to have flatter hierarchies, virtual teams and customised career paths for individuals. The current boundaries of jobs will turn fuzzy. Employees will need to engage each other with greater trust, collaboration and mutual dependency. They will need to negotiate roles, accountabilities and work in more unstructured ways to achieve success and ‘lateral leadership’ or the ability to influence without direct authority will be a key attribute for effectiveness.