When we were entering the year 2020, we all found ourselves reminiscing over that one question, “how decades have gone by?”
We gabbed endlessly on changes that took place around these decades that shaped everything the way it is today. We lived through the transformation of technology in almost every sphere of our lives. Among all this innovation and transition, work and workplaces have witnessed tremendous change.
Gone are the days when primary business models survived on profit motives only. Today, increased competition and specialism in almost everything has raised the benchmark that defines success of a business. Employee satisfaction, inter alia, plays a key role in success of almost all business types. Only this has brought a revolution in the way organisations and employees interact and work. Evolution of co-working spaces, development of a gig economy, and work from home are some key examples.
At some point in our lives, technology used to be a luxury. Today, it dominates a significant area of any business. We have entered a digital era where half the work is done over the internet. Technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation has wiped out a large number of jobs and businesses, but it has also built many. However, the pace at which we are developing technology may either prove to be fatal for human kind, or may become a reason for development of their benign future. Let us see what 2030 might have in store for us.
The Future of Work in 2030
What does 2030 look like? Do we see ourselves hedged by robots doing all the work at home and in businesses?
Well, maybe. The Sci-Fi fantasy movies we have been watching for years will soon come to life. Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation are already coming along as a huge change in our world and they are advancing and changing our surroundings so quickly, they are likely to surpass humans very soon in every possible way.
Tesla Inc., a company that has already built autonomous vehicles, is developing its own AI hardware and robotics machines that will soon erase the existence of the human workforce from its factory. It is already developing autopilot technology to achieve full self-driving. If this is happening in 2020, imagine what will happen in 2030? This Tech giant’s CEO Elon Musk recently donated $ 10 million to a non-profit AI research organization called ‘openAI’ again.
AI will be the future and we will become more and more Dependent on it
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science concerned with building machines that are made to think like humans. The goal of AI is to replicate the human brain, and in some cases, even surpass it. How do you think Ola or Uber determine the price of a ride? Or how do they match you with other riders for car-sharing services and suggest minimum costs? Well, it is AI. Collaborative AI, another similar concept, is a developing branch of AI which is being built to understand and collaborate with humans.
AI is a futuristic vision that will eventually be deployed in all walks of life; from national security and health care to criminal justice and financial services. Big Companies are already spending billions of dollars on AI products and services and the fact that most universities have already begun to include AI in their curricula is a sign that AI is the future. Russian President Vladimir Putin was found quoting that whichever country leads in AI research will dominate global affairs.
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Industrial Automation will become more usual than ever to do Intelligent Business
By the end of the next decade, automation and robotics will dominate the manufacturing sectors. Automation and Robotics are all about using and handling physical machines and control mechanisms to automate tasks within an industry. Robots are only a type of machine used in automation processes. Industrial automation is already gaining momentum and soon enough, we will have fully autonomous factories at our disposal.
Global fashion brands like Uniqlo, Zara and H&M are already using automation and robotics to make their supply chains more efficient each day. Instead of setting up manufacturing plants across the globe, these brands have set up local automated factories and have deployed robots there who work round the clock in creating unfinished goods. The result is the reduction in time taken from manufacturing to final sales.
Big Data will become a Norm
Just like AI, big data too will eventually become dominant across various sectors of businesses. Big data is a process that generates massive amounts of digital information through online platforms. It is then utilized for business intelligence, i.e., to identify areas that are likely to generate more revenue. With each passing day, the number of users of the internet contributing to this data is only on a rise. Therefore, traditional applications to collect and store these data will soon become dormant.
The introduction of cloud service to store and manage big data is increasing manifolds and will keep rising. Eventually, analysis and application of big data for predicting activities and developing challenge points will become the new ordinary and in years to come, the products and services will be a smart result of growing dependency and easy accessibility of big data.
Immersive Technology will Create a New World
The new world is all about working from anywhere in the world. Whether at home, or on a vacation, all you need is a laptop and an internet connection. Immersive technology which includes virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, will soon make its way to organisations for sharing information in real-time without being physically present.
Augmented reality will help improve communication by providing headsets and gears that will help employees to be seated at their home/desks and still be a part of meetings taking place at distant places. Anyone working in India will easily be able to collaborate with the workforce in say the United States of America. Augmented reality will also come as a big rescue to businesses in the retail space where one can shop online by trying shoes and apparel in real time without actually visiting the shop.
Social Media giant Facebook has already launched its virtual reality hangout session called Facebook Spaces where one can meet his or her friend on a virtual space in a way as if they were sitting side by side. Immersive technology called holoportation is underway where a 3D image of a person can be placed physically as a hologram anywhere in the world and who then can be used to interact as if he or she were right in front of you.
Augmented reality could bring a huge reform in the way businesses work. It could bring together the best talent from across the world and yet decrease overhead costs in transportation and travel of employees and having physical offices.
Work Culture 2030 Might Just be ‘The Thing’
More and more businesses have become employee-centric. If you want to be in the race and survive, you must win your workforce, and once you do so, you will have done half the job. We have already undergone a paradigm shift from ‘providing tools to do the job’ to ‘employee satisfaction, happiness, and productivity as being a key aspect in the success of any organization. However, is that enough?
Employees seek more from an organization than just monetary returns for impelling and slogging like robots. They want to have a sense of purpose, comfort in working, and an affable work culture that can boost their productivity. Organizations have already begun to transform their offices based on these factors and if this is how they continually advance, 2030 might become a very pleasant era to work in human history.
Workspace Culture will become more Employee-Centric in 2030
In 2030, organizations will literally feed on their empowered employees who have a sense of purpose and achievement. Therefore, Inclusivity and well-being will become the focal points for all businesses. We will barely see a concept of head-office that dictates employees in their work. Offices will closely resemble a sociable spot where all employees will be able to interact and share their ideas. Innovation, creative thinking, emotional intelligence, and advanced problem-solving skills will drive the workforce to achieve their rewards.
Workplaces will be completely transformed. The use of Artificial Intelligence will become rampant in helping employees track their performances and become a tool to monitor their overall well-being. It will guide them through short breaks, workouts, meditation, and nutritional food as a part of their everyday work. Overall mental health, well-being, and financial security will be the key focus.
Google is already giving us world-class company culture goals. It has its office more like a playground rather than a workplace. From video-game stations to nap pods, google has changed the way employees work and interact. Many companies have taken google as an example and are now transforming workplaces to suit the needs of employees. In the end, what matters is employee comfort and contentment.
Flexibility and Infrastructure Will Become key to the success of any business
A normal working day often looks like rushing through the morning traffic, taking a packed elevator, ruffling through people, and running to the desk in time to avoid any kind of bashing by the boss. Post this, we are only made to slog for hours and hours, and eventually we get so consumed in the toxic work culture, that we lose the sense of our goals and ourselves. This only forces them to continually look for a different workplace. For millennial and generation X today, a sense of purpose and meaning, a holistic work environment, and happiness have taken precedence over financial success.
This is where the gig economy comes off as a blessing. Freelancing and contracting are attracting more and more millennial as it gives them flexibility in working, benefit of working from home, avoiding commute time and costs, wide choices of organisations to work with, and fulfilling experience in working on different projects with different companies, each day. They can do whatever they want to do, and from wherever they want to do.
The pace at which gig economy is picking up momentum, the conventional work culture is very likely to become extinct by 2030. Reports from freelancing aggregator Truelancer show that the global freelance market is at $2-3 billion which is growing at an annual rate of 14%. India currently accounts for $1 billion of the global market. It has 15 million freelancers.
A report by FICCI, EY and NASSCOM reveals that with a 24% share, India is leading in terms of the online labour market globally. A study by KellyOCG shows that for 56% of the Indian firms, The proportion of temporary workers is more than 20%.
If Covid-19 lives with us, the world may never be the same
With Covid-19 lingering in our streets, the chances of a physical workspace seeing the light of the day look very grim. Even if it does, workstations won’t be the same. Social distancing norms would only mean more office space to accommodate all our employees, which will require shedding out extra expenses; or calling only a few employees to work on alternate days while incurring the same rental expense every month. Since most of us have become accustomed to and comfortable with ‘work from home, then why have a workplace?
A lot of companies have already begun evaluating the possibilities of closing down certain office spaces. If at all this happens, it will come out as a huge benefit to employees as it will cut down their commuting time and costs, will give them greater autonomy, and help them deliver their work more peacefully. However, this is likely to happen only if corona virus stays with us for long. And if it does, the digital world, which is already gaining momentum, will become more prominent, and this will definitely lead to new inventions and innovations and the evolution of a new era – The Digital Era.
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2030, A Race Between Humans and Machines
At a time when overpopulation and unemployment are already posing a big threat to India, technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation may just worsen the situation. It is likely to affect every sphere of our lives and every aspect of the business. It has the ability to wipe out human existence from a large number of jobs. With 1.3 billion people in its economy, the future of humans in India looks very bleak. A study by Teamlease Services shows that around 52-69% of repetitive and predictive roles in sectors like manufacturing, transportation, packaging, shipping, and financial services are likely to be hit by automation.
However, there is an argument that the displacement of humans with this new technology is likely to generate new jobs and skills in the future. The new era will focus on higher specialization and critical thinking in jobs to come. Many jobs and skills will become redundant by 2030, but many more will emerge. The argument still raises pertinent questions; will these new jobs and skills of tomorrow be sufficient enough to meet large-scale replacement of human beings? Will we have work to do in the future? Or will humans be completely sidelined by technology? The fear is real. It is therefore time we begin to develop strategies and prepare for the future.
Government and Businesses must protect people against the possibilities and unfavorable outcomes lying ahead of us by re-skilling and upskilling them and imparting them with the knowledge of AI and machine learning technology. Every job in the future will be associated with technology. Either it will be converted into tech or will need a partnership with it. We must now begin to expose our employees to the tech-enabled future through online training programs and corporate training. We must also introduce technology studies as a curriculum in educational institutions. Science and technology will be a subject none us will be able to ignore. From lawyers to doctors, accountants to analysts; technology will dominate us. With the advent of tech will come various other issues like cyber attacks which will need strong regulations.
The focus should be on increasing employment in the areas which are least likely to be affected by the advancement of technology; like art, entertainment, and sports. These creative fields, which are least encouraged in India, must take precedence now, as artificial intelligence and automation are likely to oust all the mainstream jobs in the world soon.
Technology comes with its own perils. It has the power to improve our lives, standard of living, productivity and gives us more time for personal fulfillment. Flip this side of the coin, and you will see the devastation of the whole economic system of our world, jobless humans, and cyber-attacks being at the core of it. But digital advancement will not stop. We must focus on how we decide to use this technology. The future is all about human and machine partnership and we must make correct and optimal use of it to avoid any dreadful economic situation.
It is also time the government comes out with more stringent laws relating to information technology, privacy, and data protection to avoid hassle-free growth of technology. If not done, it will create unrest among the world, which will have by then become fully dependent on it.
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