The last few years have permanently changed the workplace experience in a way that nobody could have predicted. But now that workplaces have largely adjusted and found a ‘new normal’, what is next?
We spoke to experts on the future of work for their predictions for the upcoming year to see what lies ahead.
Accessibility in hybrid working
Martin Bodley, Director and Global Head of Bose Work for Bose Professional said: “In 2023, I expect we’ll see accessibility of hybrid work brought to the forefront of business priorities. Hybrid work has been a huge benefit for many in terms of uninterrupted — or minimally interrupted — work, but it has also brought with it a whole host of new accessibility considerations. Now that businesses have settled into hybrid work, 2023 will see an increased focus on meeting equity, specifically around accessibility to ensure the workplace is inclusive to everyone.
“Each employee should have the same opportunity to participate in and contribute to the workplace, regardless of location or workstyle. Businesses supporting hybrid work will continue to see increased benefits in an environment where employees work collaboratively and productively in a variety of ways — whether synchronously or asynchronously. A clear understanding of different workstyles and investing in the right technology will results in greater efficiencies, increased productivity, and higher overall employee satisfaction.”
Pam Maynard, CEO of Avanade, was in agreement. She said: “For me personally, the future of work is rooted in flexibility and choice. Since the pandemic, the topic of how to give people diverse work options so they can live full lives, professionally and personally, has dominated boardroom conversations. There is no longer a one-size-fits-all box we all have to fit into—we can choose what works best for us and thrive at work and at home. And we can put our well-being first. I call that a win! For the businesses who do not grasp flexibility with both hands I fear they will be victims to the future expectations from workers and will ultimately lose out, both in the quest for talent but also by lacking the innovation and creativity that comes from nurtured minds.
“What’s more, embracing flexibility and prioritising life alongside work must start at the top. While I will admit to sometimes struggling to juggle responsibilities at work and home, I place great value on quality time with friends and family and pursuing personal passions, so I have made a conscious effort to do that without fear of professional judgement. If our employees don’t see me and my leadership team balancing our personal and professional lives, how will they feel safe to pursue the same kind of balance for themselves? It’s why I’ve been so open and forthright about my position and expect others to do the same.”
Paul McHugh, Area Director UK for Cradle point, highlighted the need for technology investment to support this. He said: “Businesses should be focusing on creating ways of working that are more flexible and resilient enough for the modern world. This means enabling their employees to work from anywhere, not just the office or home. We’ve seen across businesses that create a remote work network that mimics the office experience, leads to reduced employee training costs, and improves employee productivity.
“As such, more businesses will embrace 4G or 5G cellular technology throughout 2023. Through this technology, businesses will deliver a work from anywhere environment that “just works” for the employee and does not compromise IT requirements. This will allow companies and employees to be much more flexible and productive, working the way that suits them best. While the office will be a part of that, it should not be considered the main focal point for business going forward, becoming collaboration hubs.”
Hiring across more diverse backgrounds
Sam Rowlands, Co-founder and Community Director for Distributed noted: “Businesses will soon realise they cannot afford to reject applicants for tech roles based purely on the fact they don’t have a STEM degree to their name. If we are to meet the growing demand for talent, government and businesses need to understand the value of candidates from a range of backgrounds. That includes individuals that have studied arts or humanities subjects, or so-called “Mickey Mouse” courses.
“The soft skills these courses develop, like creative thinking and problem solving, are often the most valuable in the tech world, more so than hard STEM skills, which can be taught at any stage. We shouldn’t pigeonhole our future tech workforce; by doing so, we risk missing out on much broader talent that brings different attributes to the fore.”
Investing in advanced technology
Mark Gibbs, President – EMEA at UiPath told us: “With the tightest labour market since World War II and inflation at a 40-year high, today’s organisations face economic challenges from every direction. Naturally, business leaders are planning ahead to what 2023 might bring and exploring the best technologies to future proof their organisation, keeping it from suffering significant disruption. Automation is now being widely recognised as a key way to do so – offering fast and effective relief through such tumultuous times.
Take today’s labour shortages and technology skills gap. Our research found that 52% of workers find themselves considering other job opportunities when doing repetitive tasks compared to creative ones, which raises cause for concern given organisations are already finding it difficult to attract and retain talent in the current job market. Automation can help on multiple fronts – by expanding automation efforts, organisations can enhance the productivity of employees, while creating a more attractive work environment to land (and keep) top talent.”
On another note, Daniel McLoughlin, Field CTO for OneSpan warned: “In 2023, organisations will need to take a step back and develop a strategy that prioritises secure face-to-face transactions and interactions between businesses and people. Cybersecurity, and specifically the concerns around deepfake technology, will be at the top of many corporate agendas.
“As deepfake technology advances and fraudsters become more inventive, businesses must be able to verify the identity of virtual meeting participants not only before they join so-called secure environments but also throughout the session. This should be achieved by requiring continuous authentication and identity verification no matter where that interaction takes place. This will help guard virtual meetings and digital transactions from the spectre of deepfakes. Adopting the right continuous authentication and verification processes, while maintaining a high-quality user experience will be essential in 2023 – especially as we all edge closer to the next iteration of the internet: Web3.”
And, Sopra Steria’s Andy Whitehurst, Chief Technology Officer, wanted to highlight the impact of the metaverse as well. He said: “The foundation for the metaverse and the age of augmented and virtual reality will continue to be built in 2023. While there’s lots of talk around gaming, socialising and shopping in the metaverse, we often overlook the practical businesses applications it could support.
“The metaverse itself acts as a digital twin to our universe and our day-to-day reality. In theory, organisations could simulate different operational scenarios in the metaverse as well, changing inputs and observing subsequent outputs, which they can test until a positive outcome has been reached. This could be anything from transportation and logistics, to manufacturing, and even system-based processes like recruitment. Ultimately, these digital twins can help businesses visualise every aspect of a planned project or live operation allowing for missteps to be identified, processes to be optimised and operational costs reduced. The metaverse can also allow remote workers to interact and collaborate with one another without the need to travel to the office, providing more of a face-to-face feel than video calls.
Finally, according to Melissa Burke, Transformation Director at Grayce, “The social and economic disruptions over the last few years have truly placed “purpose” as one of the most important business themes, and in 2023, businesses will no longer be able to cast this aside. Similar to businesses that were late to the digital transformation party, organisations that don’t authentically address purpose will be left struggling. Purpose is the key theme for any business looking to close their talent gap, engage with a younger workforce, drive investment, and remain competitive.”