As the Covid pandemic faded into the background, there was fevered debate about whether the remote work that dominated the pandemic era would be rolled back. Although employers are keen to get people back into the office for a wide range of reasons, flexible work has remained a key priority for employees. What might 2024 have in store for us?
Four-day working has become a noticeable trend in 2023. This is likely to continue into 2024 as both employers and employees alike realize that it’s not about the number of hours you do but the quality of your work.
With burnout and job dissatisfaction continuing to be extremely high, the four-day week is likely to be a major tool in organizational efforts to retain and attract talent, especially as evidence suggests that it’s just as productive as the traditional five-day schedule.
With this comes the continuation of hybrid work patterns that encourage people to work from wherever they feel most productive. A hybrid approach often marries the benefits of remote working in terms of engagement and productivity with the benefits of on-premise working in terms of corporate culture and professional networks. With a large proportion of the workforce willing to forgo a portion of their salary in favor of remote working, this is something that employers need to continue to offer if they want to attract the talent they need.
Adapting to technology
ChatGPT and other generative technologies have taken the world by storm in 2023. However, whereas this year has been one of experimentation and trying things out, 2024 will likely see a more substantial attempt to change how we work based on the technology's benefits.
For instance, early evidence suggests that AI technology can be especially helpful in supporting lower-skilled workers to achieve the kind of levels traditionally produced by higher-skilled peers. There has also been evidence of the “personal assistant” qualities of the technology in terms of automating many of the mundane tasks that hold us back and freeing us up to do the creative tasks that we’re best suited for.
Of course, generative AI isn’t the only technology affecting the workplace, and things like data are likely to continue to play an increased role as organizations strive to apply data to every aspect of their operations.
Skills, skills, skills
To help employees adapt to this changing landscape, organizations will need to invest heavily in upskilling and reskilling the workforce. Suffice it to say, the more enlightened organizations already get this, but the data suggests that many still fail to grasp the importance of investing in the workforce.
Cybernews has previously covered upskilling and how it can be carried out successfully. Upskilling can also help organizations to uncover talent that they didn’t know existed, both inside and outside the firm. These investments are crucial if the potential of new technologies is to be realized.
Investing in skills is also widely understood to help buffer against things like burnout and general unhappiness. Data from Gallup shows that employee happiness continues to be incredibly low, so it’s important to invest in them so that they feel a sense of purpose and belonging at work.
The multi-generational workplace
In the search for talent, organizations will increasingly have to accept that the workplace will be a multi-generational affair. A lot of attention has been given to the rise of Generation Z, and it's expected that they will represent nearly a quarter of the workforce by 2024.
This doesn’t represent the entire picture, however, as it's also likely that longer lives and uncertain finances will mean older workers will remain in the workforce for longer than ever before. This will mean discarding some of the stereotypes around older workers and ensuring that the different generations can work effectively together.
This can be especially problematic in traditionally hierarchical organizations where seniority tends to come by virtue of age rather than expertise. If younger workers are managing older ones, this can introduce problems if they are not managed sensitively.
Sustainability to the fore
Last but not least, the continued emphasis on sustainability in the aftermath of the latest round of COP talks will continue to impact the workplace. It’s long been evident that employees want to work for organizations that take care of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and sustainability will be at the forefront of these requirements.
If your organization isn’t introducing robust sustainability measures, then it will be increasingly difficult to attract the talent (and the customers) needed to thrive. Central to this drive should be an attempt to make the workplace a greener and more sustainable place to come to work. These investments should be used to help encourage people to come back to work. With viable alternatives now existing, mundane workplaces won’t cut it anymore.
For instance, it’s increasingly understood that green workplaces, complete with plants and other sustainable features, are conducive to happy and productive workers. In the wake of the “Great Resignation,” now is the time to invest in flexible working, digital technology, reskilling, and sustainability to ensure that you keep the talent you have and make use of it in ways you previously were not.
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