Click on a question below that interests you the most.
- What does “future of work” mean?
- What is the future of work?
- What are employees saying about the future of remote work?
- Is investing in your employees part of the future of work?
- What are executives saying about the future of hybrid work?
- What are the trends about the future of work?
- Is working from home or remote work the future of work?
- Is hybrid work the future of work?
- Is a four-day week the future of work?
- How will Covid-19 (coronavirus) change the future of work?
- Will humans have to work in the future?
- Will machines replace humans in the future of work?
- How will technology change the future of work?
- How will AI impact the future of work and life?
- Will jobs of the future feel like work?
- How will the metaverse change the future of work?
- How should one prepare for the future of work?
The Future of Work: 17 Questions and Answers
1. What does “future of work” mean?
In this article, we defined the “future of work” as “the ways in which labor will be delivered in 10-20 years.”
To add some context, people are forecasting how the workplace will evolve in the coming years. That includes how technology, generational shifts, and social changes will influence workplaces around the globe.
2. What is the future of work?
Whatever the future of work is, it will impact who works, how we work, and where we work.
- Who does the work? Will everyone be full-time employees or freelancers? What about gig work and crowdsourcing tasks?
- How will we work? Many routine tasks can be automated right now. With advances in artificial intelligence (AI), how much of it will be automated in the future?
- Where do we work? Whether it’s automated or not, where will people work? As technology improves, workers can communicate and collaborate from all over the world. Do people need to be in the same physical place to get things done?
I think the future of work includes:
- People working for themselves. Workers will no longer have to rely on someone else for employment. Advances in technology make it possible for anyone to start a successful website and be a one-person company.
- More remote and asynchronous work. People will be able to work from wherever they want, whenever they want. Physical offices are unnecessary for many jobs, and people no longer need to be in the same space to get the work done.
- No set schedules. There will be freedom and flexibility in work schedules. People will be judged on what they accomplish, not how early or late they are in the office.
- More automation. As AI advances, it will take over much of the busy work humans currently do, freeing them up for other work and non-work tasks.
Learn more about my predictions for the future of work: The Future Of Work Lies 12,000 Years Ago.
3. What are employees saying about the future of remote work?
The pandemic gave employees a chance to experience the future of work with remote work, and many do not want to let it go. Though employers want people to return to the office, workers want to remain remote full-time or, at least, work a hybrid schedule.
4. Is investing in your employees part of the future of work?
Workers and employers learned that more jobs than previously thought could be done remotely without sacrificing productivity or quality. Unwilling to give that up, many people are searching for remote and hybrid jobs. And with more companies sticking with remote work, remote work job openings have increased substantially.
This gives people 100 times more opportunities to find a job that’s a good fit for them because they can work for any company in the world instead of settling for something that’s just OK because it’s within driving distance.
And while this means that employers have the chance to work with the best talent anywhere, it also means that recruitment is more competitive than ever. Any employer that wants to attract and retain top talent needs to invest in their employees through training and other incentives.
5. What are executives saying about the future of hybrid work?
Many executives want employees to return to the office (RTO) but are willing to allow hybrid work schedules. The positive way companies explain this hybrid RTO is that even though people are productive working at home, collaboration still needs to happen in person.
A more pessimistic (and not often acknowledged) spin is that even though almost everyone wants to work from home permanently and probably could, these companies are locked into expensive, long-term leases (or purchased buildings) and need to justify that expense.
Find companies that allow hybrid work: Every Company Announcing A Hybrid Work Model.
6. What are the trends about the future of work?
There are many trends from today that the future of work will build on. The main ones are:
- Artificial Intelligence: AI will change how decisions are made, leading to higher productivity. It will make workers more efficient and work alongside them, not replace them.
- Remote workplaces: Remote work will transform work and entire economies. Employees will be more productive and autonomous, changing how people progress in their careers and make decisions.
- One-person companies: More people will take on freelance work and become one-person companies. They may choose multiple types of work (writing, bookkeeping, and web design) to give them experience in several fields.
- Employee well-being:There will be more emphasis on attracting and maintaining a diverse workforce with things like individualized perks (people can choose which perks they want instead of HR creating a single package for everyone), upskilling, and overall job satisfaction.
- Flexible and alternative schedules: More companies will offer flexible work weeks (like four-day workweeks). This will be in conjunction with switching to results-only workplaces (ROWE) that focus on what an employee accomplishes, not how long they were in the office.
7. Is working from home or remote work the future of work?
While many companies think hybrid is the future of work, I firmly believe it’s fully remote. Remote work often gives companies the best outcomes, motivating them to become remote-first companies.
Take hiring. When a company advertises a job opening as hybrid, they’re restricting their candidate pool to those who A) want a hybrid schedule; and B) live within a reasonable commuting distance. That limits who applies for the job, and while good candidates might apply, outstanding ones might never see the posting.
But if the company advertises the position as fully remote, they will have a broader and deeper talent pool for sourcing candidates. That posting is more likely to attract the very best talent from around the world. And while that makes applying for the role more competitive for job seekers, it’s a boon to companies. When the best in the world can work from anywhere, remote-first companies will likely have the best staff working for them.
8. Is hybrid work the future of work?
Hybrid is the least likely outcome for the future of work. Creating a balanced work environment between in-person and remote staff is complicated, making hybrid the least attractive option for employers.
Consider meetings. When everyone works in the office, it’s easy to decide where meetings happen: in the meeting room. The same goes for a fully remote workplace: all meetings are virtual.
In a hybrid workplace, though, how do you decide where to meet? Does everyone meet online even when half the staff is in the office? If the in-person people all meet in the same room, how do they include the virtual people equally?
And that’s just the big meetings. What about the little ones? What about small decisions that happen casually? What if two people are in the office and one is remote? Do you all meet on Slack to chat? Dial into a quick Zoom? Or, do the two people make a decision, then loop the third one in later?
9. Is a four-day week the future of work?
Most likely, yes. Tons of companies are switching to a four-day work week, and more are joining all the time.
In America, the five-day, 40-hour work week is an arbitrary number. Almost 100 years ago, manufacturers (like Henry Ford) decided that the five-day, eight-hour shift worked best for their companies. The decision was based on creating efficient production lines (and profits) more than anything else.
But most jobs these days aren’t in manufacturing, and the company’s profit doesn’t depend on making sure the production lines run “on schedule.” Most people can get more done in less time, making the five-day work week irrelevant and, eventually, obsolete.
Learn more about the four-day work week: 4-Day Work Week: The Complete Overview
10. How will Covid-19 (coronavirus) change the future of work?
There’s no denying that the pandemic was a massive A/B experiment for remote work vs. office work. And there’s also no denying that for most workers and employers, the results were positive. People were generally more productive working from home despite the many challenges they faced.
11. Will humans have to work in the future?
Yes, but it probably won’t be the same.
Though there are people who like to work, it’s more accurate to say that people want to feel productive and accomplished however they define it.
So, while people may still have to work in the future, it won’t feel like work. When more tasks are automated, and people only work four days a week, there will be more time to work on the things that matter to individuals. People will be able to pursue creative and artistic endeavors. That may not be “work,” but people will feel satisfied and fulfilled.
12. Will machines replace humans in the future of work?
Though employers are investing in technology to meet the demands of the future of work, they are also investing in humans.
In the future of work, the best talent will have the most options, so employers are doing what they can to attract and retain the best workers. While this will include remote work and four-day work weeks, it will also include training and professional development.
Though robots can perform some human tasks, they can’t perform them all. For example, a chatbot can help a human visitor to a point. It doesn’t have the empathy or problem-solving skills to help the customers with complicated issues. The employer still needs a human customer service rep for that, and smart employers will invest in their staff to ensure they stay happy, fulfilled, and on the job.
13. How will technology change the future of work?
It already has.
In the last 50 years, technology and automation have helped companies accomplish more but with less staff. Consider manufacturing companies. While there are still humans on production lines, machines complete many of the tasks. Even in offices, technology has changed how work gets done. The boss no longer needs to ask their secretary to compose an interoffice memo, type it up, copy it, then distribute it to the staff. The boss simply types one up on their computer or phone, then emails it.
While these technologies have eliminated jobs, it’s also led to the creation of new jobs. Consider how selling handmade items on Etsy or being a YouTuber is a profitable side hustle or primary income source for some. The future of work will have different kinds of jobs, including ones that haven’t been invented yet.
14. How will AI impact the future of work and life?
AI won’t replace humans anytime soon, but it’s already impacting work and life.
When you go to a website and interact with “customer service,” often you’re talking to a robot. Eventually, you might need to connect with a human, but the bot can likely answer many of your questions.
The problem with AI, though, is that it can only do a few things. It can’t adapt to changes and often has a limited set of responses. That chatbot can’t recognize sarcasm or calm an angry customer. Even Google and Facebook still use human moderators to rate content. as that’s well beyond AI’s capabilities.
15. Will jobs of the future feel like work?
Hopefully not. In a perfect world, more mundane tasks (entering numbers on a spreadsheet) will be automated, and basic needs (food) will be relatively inexpensive (go to the grocery store instead of farming it). The combination of these things means that in the future of work, more people will have the opportunity to work on things that are fun (or feel less like work).
16. How will the metaverse change the future of work?
Though it’s a long way off, the metaverse could not only transform the way we work but also remove some of the negatives of remote work.
For example, coworkers could “meet” in the same room instead of staring at each other in tiny boxes. Screen sharing could become a thing of the past and allow people to work in 3D. Employers would never have to worry about outgrowing the office or negotiating a lease renewal. And companies could change how they onboard and train people by allowing them to work on “equipment.”
17. How should one prepare for the future of work?
Start by reading about automation in your field and for your skills. What parts of your job can be automated? Can all of it be automated? Will your job disappear because of automation?
Consider building a side business or multiple income streams. This way, if your job is automated or outsourced, or the company goes under, you still have money coming in and don’t have to rely solely on unemployment.
Then start pursuing jobs at companies that are thinking about the future of work. Look for businesses that are fully remote, offer four-day work weeks, or allow you to freelance. These cutting-edge companies are ahead of the curve and are more likely to thrive in the new future, meaning you’ll benefit, too.
What The Future Of Work Holds
While we can’t predict precisely what the future of work holds, looking at today’s trends can give us an idea of what to expect. Prepare for it now by researching fully-remote jobs and companies that think differently on FlexJobs.
What do you think the future of work will be? Drop your predictions in the comments.