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Before the pandemic, it was easy to see where work was going. Most companies were moving forward with digital transformation, investing in new ways to work together, using AI to improve sales and marketing, and figuring out which channels were best for reaching their customers.
Just a few years from now, the future of work will be very different. The office is like a living room. Most meeting rooms are mostly empty. The office hours change. The whole idea of work was turned on its head, and it doesn’t look like it will go back to how it was before the pandemic any time soon, if ever.
When you add these changes to the current state of the economy, you have a recipe for an uncertain future. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, told investors on a recent earnings call that they are ready to do more with less. And this is a fact that many companies will have to deal with as they get ready for the new world of work. The good news, though? Most people who need help are turning to technology.
Since the last few years have been rough at work, people are changing what they want to pay attention to. Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trends Index says that 53% of workers are more likely to put their health and well-being ahead of their work. 47% are more likely to put their family and personal lives ahead of their work. The Great Resignation is a clear sign that workers are ready to find jobs that match their priorities and how and where they want to work.
In the middle of 2022, Futurum Research and Microsoft worked together on a global study to find out more about the state of the workplace at that time. The soon-to-be-published study looked at 500 business leaders, technologists, marketers, and IT decision-makers from around the world who are in charge of helping their companies figure out how to work together. We found that the future of work will depend on what employees have to say. The better off a business will be, the more often it looks at the experience of its workers.
At the start of the pandemic, it was clear that collaboration and efficiency were not always smooth. Most businesses were not used to having all of their employees work from home. To get remote collaboration tools on board, a lot of last-minute changes had to be made.
Still, after two years, more than 70% of the people surveyed said that their workplace culture had improved. Employees now have more of a say than they used to. About 85% of those polled thought that more people were involved in making decisions. And almost 80% of them think they work together just as well as they did before.
Still, in a world of hybrid and remote work, what does “collaboration” really mean? More than 40% of the people surveyed said that tools that let people work together but not at the same time have replaced real-time tools. Also, more than 85% of respondents said they are either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with how well their employees work together. Changes are going well for employees.
What does that mean for the “office” as we know it? If they keep supporting the hybrid and remote workspace, it means that many companies may be able to cut back quite a bit. Nearly 80% of the people surveyed were able to physically change their offices to make better use of unused conference space, and 75% said they were able to change how much they paid for their lease or space. In a nutshell, the future of work means fewer costs and more output. That works out well for everyone.
A recent conversation I had with the CEO of Mitel, Tarun Loomba, may have been the best way, to sum up, this change to the hybrid workplace. When he talked about the very important trends in hybrid work, he said it in a few words. “More organizations will make a conscious and concrete commitment to building a hybrid work culture that fosters human connection.” They will do this by deeply integrating their different ways of communicating into organizational processes and workflows. Modernizing communications is the key to improving employee connection, productivity, and health.
Collaboration platforms can make it easier for employees to do their jobs, but that’s only one side of the story. According to a survey from Asana, 42% of employees say they are tired of their jobs. which makes sense since most employees move from one platform to another to talk about work, look for information, and find updates. Employees say that they spend about 33% of their day doing the job for which they were hired. But there is a way out.
According to the Automation Now & Next Report, which was made in collaboration with Automation Anywhere, 61% of organizations are turning to automation to help ease the burden that staffing problems have caused. But that’s not the end of it. 94% of those who answered say that moving employees to higher-value work is a strategic goal for the next year.
70% of the people who answered our survey think that at least 30% of regular work tasks in customer service, sales, marketing, finance, human resources, and IT could be done by machines. That’s 30% of a worker’s day that could be used to do more important, strategic, or meaningful work for the business.
And we can be sure that automation will lead to more use of AI and immersive technologies like AR, VR, and the Metaverse. This will, of course, make it more important to invest more in cybersecurity. We’ll start to see these trends right away, and they’ll keep growing as companies rely more and more on technology to drive constant change.
To be successful in your future work, you will need a plan. The one area where we see companies push back a little on employees is with apps. At the start of the pandemic, businesses quickly adopted new technologies and often let employees use whatever tools worked best for them to get the job done. This led to a lot of apps being used at work.
With a lot of apps, data is scattered and hard to connect, and there is a big chance of a security breach. Those are problems that no business wants to deal with in the future. Now, we’re seeing that companies want to limit the number of devices and apps their employees use so that it’s easier to keep an eye on them and keep them safe. According to a report we did with Microsoft, more than 75% of the people who filled out the survey said they strongly or somewhat prefer to use a single solution for collaborating across teams or apps.
Learning means figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and it’s clear that many companies are still working hard to find the right balance for both the company and its employees. The change to hybrid and remote work gave employees more freedom to balance their work and personal lives. They have no plans to give up this freedom in the future.
According to the State of Remote Work report, 25% of employees would quit their jobs if they couldn’t work remotely, and almost half would take a pay cut to keep working remotely at least part-time. This will keep happening. In fact, our research showed that more than half of the people we talked to thought that up to 50% of their full-time workers would keep doing so for the next year. When asked about the next three to five years, the number dropped to 49%.
The point is that work will be different in the future. The way people work will change in the future. Businesses must do the same thing if they want to do well at work in the future. This means finding ways for employees to work better and technologies that make their lives easier. You’ll need a plan and to pay attention to what your employees require to accomplish this. But if you do what you need to do, your business will do well in the future.
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