Here are Watson’s top five trends that will transform work:
- Globalization/connectivity. Although more jobs will go to workers in developing countries than ever before, there may actually be a worker shortage due to declining fertility. This worker’s market means that workers will be more free to ask for the working environment they want, and employers will become more competitive in what they offer as part of their recruitment packages. Since more and more work is done remotely, companies will be more willing to hire workers who work from home or who live remotely or even internationally. Work hours may also become less standard since increased globalization means having to communicate with people in other time zones.
- Accelerating technological change. You think online job searches are advanced technology? You ain’t seen nothing yet. People’s resumes and work history might live online or even be implanted in their bodies. You might not even need to remember your passwords or bring your ID tag to work anymore if you’ve got an implant or if some part of your body can be scanned. People will work from home more, of course, but when they do need to meet, it won’t necessarily be at the brick-and-mortar office—the office could be anywhere, even in your car or on the commuter train. In the future, you might download your meetings rather than attending them in person.
- Corporate social responsibility and governance. Prospective job seekers will care less about how much money they make and more about doing good in the world. They’ll want to know that the company they work for is ethical and honest, and that it’s working to make a difference. Since people will be more value-driven and information will become even more accessible, it will be hard for companies to hide their less-than-savory aspects.
- Demographic shifts. Look out, Baby Boomers: Here comes Generation Y! Since there will be more jobs than people, companies will have to compete to recruit the younger generation, and the younger generation will demand changes. Look out, middle-aged white men: Here come the women, the minorities, the international workers! The younger generation is more diverse than its predecessors, and it wants to see evidence that its employers are making efforts to promote that diversity. Employers will have to be more creative about how they reward work, what commitments they expect, and how they accommodate differences in the workplace.
- Work/life balance. The old model of more-work-equals-more-prestige will die out. In the future, employees will be more concerned about having a life than being workaholics. Watson imagines that companies will even have to start paying out lawsuits for failed marriages and stress-related illnesses if the courts determine they are too demanding of their employees. Company culture will have to adapt to workers’ demands for more personal time, and it will likely become part of their official policies, so that requests for flexibility become routine paperwork rather than isolated incidents.