In 2013, Rocky Battista celebrated 75 years of working at Coca-Cola and said “there is nothing else for me”. He comes from an era where people looked to have a ‘job for life’ but we’ve quickly reached a point where people like Rocky are an exception rather than the rule. The astonishing rate of technological change has completely altered the employment landscape and the future of work is more complex and intriguing than ever before.

While your father may have had one job his whole life, it’s entirely possible you have had several since job hopping and even career change have become more prominent in the last decade or so. In the future, your children may have several jobs at once. In this article, we look at 6 ways in which work will change in the coming years.


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1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

We have already seen the growth of automation in recent years; from paying for shopping with a scanner to self-driving cars, the rise of AI could make our lives a whole lot easier. Companies such as IBM and Cisco are already using AI in the workplace. For instance, IBM’s Watson computer is now being used to diagnose cancer patients in the United States.

However, the growth of AI means millions of jobs could be at risk. The robots being used in factories are becoming more sophisticated and soon, they will be able to perform the same duties as human employees; only much quicker. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, AI could endanger up to 75 million jobs worldwide by 2025.

2. The end of the corporate ladder

Up until now, the goal of employees within an organisation was to work hard enough to climb the corporate ladder. In theory, you could begin at an entry level position and work your way up the ladder until you became an executive or even a CEO. The ladder has been replaced by the ‘Lattice’ which enables employees to ‘move across’ rather than ‘up’ and they can become part of new networks.

This term was coined by Cathy Benko, Deloitte’s vice-chairman and the company is one of the biggest drivers of this new outlook. Instead of simply trying to get promoted, Deloitte employees are encouraged to look at larger life goals during their biannual evaluations. The idea behind this new structure is to help employees achieve a better work/life balance by offering flexibility.

3. Workplace tracking

A lot of people reading this have probably complained about having their manager ‘looking over their shoulder’ at work. Things won’t be getting any better if companies decide to use productivity sensors. Sociometric Solutions has already created one of these tracking devices which is designed to monitor the activities of employees.

These sensors can measure employee productivity and more advanced versions may even be able to gauge your mood and determine if you’re getting enough exercise outside of work! Organisations such as the Bank of America and Steelcase are using these trackers while BP gives its staff in North America Fitbit fitness trackers!

4. The abolition of retirement age

The state pension age in the UK has increased and up to 20% of Britons have no retirement fund whatsoever. Add in our increased life expectancy and you can quickly see why the ‘traditional’ retirement age is more or less obsolete. At present, organisations are reluctant to keep on older staff and even less likely to hire them as new employees.

They may be forced to change this approach as the working population gets older on average. From the worker’s perspective, it will be necessary to keep their skills up to date in order to compete with younger rivals. The growth of freelance roles will make it easier for people to work a few years longer since they have the option of working from home.

5. Ultra flexibility

Upwork is the largest freelance network in the world and has over 10 million people on its database at present. Given the rapid growth of the market, this is likely to be a conservative estimate. According to McKinsey, there will be well in excess of 500 million people using freelance platforms to find work within the next decade.

This increased flexibility will also extend to the workplace where employees will be able to work longer hours but actually be happy about it! Instead of being asked to work in a cubicle or office, you will be able to work from home, a coffee shop or just about anywhere you like! Employees may also be able to work on things they are passionate about which will increase motivation levels.

6. Green is the colour

With the growing concern over climate change, corporate responsibility is top priority. Organisations will be expected to keep a close eye on their supplier network to ensure no ethical boundaries are crossed and employees will be expected to tow an environmentally friendly line as well.

Governments around the world are offering financial incentives to companies willing to ‘go green’ and there should be an increased number of opportunities in the ‘green’ sector. We will probably see a large number of jobs shifting from industries that harm the environment to ones that protect it.

To sum it up

In many ways, the future of work will have a similar theme as the past; companies will continue to look for ways to make more profit with lower overheads. The freelance market for example will provide a huge supply of willing workers and organisations can cut costs not only on wages, but also on the price of renting office space.

From a worker’s point of view, while jobs may be threatened by AI, there will be an increased number of opportunities across a wider range of sectors. They will enjoy flexibility and a certain element of freedom while looking to retire at the traditional age will soon become a thing of the past.