What are the big issues ahead? Cirrus explores the latest research.

As 2018 draws to a close, organisations everywhere are facing up to the challenges ahead. Although the future is becoming increasingly hard to predict, when we look at the biggest trends researchers are highlighting, some key themes emerge.

Most researchers agree that we will experience seismic changes in the world of work. The McKinsey Institute predicts that this change could be on a scale not seen since the transition of the labour force out of agriculture in the early 1900s in the United States and Europe, and more recently in in China.

Are we ready to face the future?

Most researchers also agree that many organisations are unprepared for the scale of this challenge. The World Economic Forum has said that although the skills required for most jobs are evolving rapidly, the development of future-focused skills is lagging behind. They predict that 35% of the skills demanded for jobs across industries will change by 2020, and report that at least one in four workers in in OECD countries is already reporting a skills mismatch with regards to the skills demanded by their current jobs.

What is driving change?

Many factors are driving this dramatic change, but three trends are frequently referenced by researchers:

Advances in technology

The pace of technological change is increasing, disrupting every industry. Although there is quite a lot of fear and uncertainty around AI and automation, there is also a growing awareness of the importance of the very human attributes of strategy, innovation and creativity in order to make the most of these advances.

Evolving organisational structures and demographic change

Organisations are becoming less hierarchical, more agile, multigenerational and diverse. The rise of the gig economy, with more short-term contractors and freelance workers, as is an example of this.

Geopolitical instability

The ever-changing nature of international relations, foreign and social policy can create uncertainty. Brexit is the biggest example of this for those of us in the UK right now.

What will the future look like?

Although these challenges are concerning, they also offer leaders a chance to completely rethink how organisations operate.

Back in 2014, The Future of Work: Jobs and Skills in 2030 report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills predicted that by 2030, the UK workforce will be multi-generational, older, more international and female. Technology will be pervasive, jobs more fluid and the global labour market highly competitive.

Fast forward to 2018 and Gartner’s How We Will Work in 2028 report predicts that:

  • constant upskilling and employee digital dexterity will outweigh tenure and experience
  • extreme work choices will blur boundaries, businesses and buddies
  • smart machines will be our co-workers
  • we will work for purpose and passion, not just money.

Are you ready to face the future?

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum said that, “It is imperative that governments, businesses, academic institutions and individuals consider how to proactively shape a new, positive future of work—one that we want rather than one created through inertia.”

This is the challenge for all of us – and we believe that organisations need to develop greater agility to react swiftly and responsively to this challenge. As technology fuels the pace of change in our increasingly uncertain and complex world, adopting agile ways of working that focus on ruthless prioritisation, devolved decision-making, greater collaboration and customer focus can help us to be more adaptive, innovative and successful.

We’re going to explore the biggest challenges facing businesses in 2019 and beyond in our next Cirrus 30-minute lunchtime webinar on Tuesday 11 December. We’d love you to join us and would be interested to hear about the biggest issues facing you and your business.

Watch and listen to our 30-minute webinar on the Biggest Business Challenges of the Future here.

You can also tweet us at @CirrusConnect or email us any time.

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