trends future of work

The world of work is changing. In the coming years we won’t be working the same way as we have been over the past few years. Perhaps one of the most important underlying factors driving this change is the coming shift around who drives how work gets done.


Traditionally executives would set the rules and pass those down to managers who in turn would pass those down to employees. But as Dan Pink aptly put it, “talented people need organizations less than organizations need talented people.” In other words employees are now starting to drive the decisions and conversations around how work gets done, when it gets done, who it gets done with, what technologies are being used to get it done, etc. The next few years are going to bring about dramatic changes. But why now? What are the key trends that are driving this new future of work? There are five of them as seen below.

New behaviors

Ten years ago if someone were to tell you that you would have all this information about yourself public for the world to read, see and hear, you would have said they were crazy. Now look at where we are, we are so much more comfortable living more public lives, we build communities, share, communicate, collaborate, access information, and shape our personal experiences. All these new behaviors are cascading over organizations which is forcing them to make changes.


Big data, the cloud, the internet of things, robots, automation, video, collaboration platforms, and other technologies are changing the way we work and live. The cloud puts the power of technology in the hands of employees, robots and software are forcing us to rethink the jobs that humans can and should do, big data gives us insight into how we work and how customers transact with use, and collaboration platforms give us the ability to connect our people and information together anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Millennials in the workplace

By 2020 millennials are expected to make up around 50% of the workforce, by 2025 this number is projected to be 75%. The important thing about millennials isn’t the fact that they might bring new approaches, ideas, values, or styles of working; it’s that there are going to be so many of them. They are by all accounts going to be the largest generation to ever enter the workforce. This is a generation of employees with technological fluency that is willing to live at home longer until they find a company that they truly want to work for. In other words, organizations must shift from creating an environment where they assume that people NEED to work there to one where people WANT to work there.


It’s absolutely fascinating that living in the Bay Area, I can access virtually the same type of information that someone else can living in a remote rice patty field in China. Today where you are is starting to matter much less when it comes to being able to do your job. As long as you can connect to the internet, chances are you can access the same people and information as if you were working in an office building. We are connected anywhere and everywhere we go whether it be 35,000 in the air or in a home office.


This is essentially the ability for organizations to work in a world where boundaries do not exist. The world is becoming just like one big city. The language you speak, the currency you transact in, and where you are physically located are starting to matter less and less. You can work in San Francisco yet have clients in Beijng or Melbourne; the same goes for employees. Boundaries to working with anyone and anywhere are being crushed and this trend will only continue.

So what do you do now?

First, make sure you understand what these five trends are and how they are going to impact your business. For example if you are in retail you should absolutely be thinking about things like mobility, the internet of things, robots and automation. If you are in finance you should be exploring how to attract and retain top talent and the future workforce. If you are in professional services then understanding globalization is going to be crucial. These are just a few examples but the important thing is to think through the potential implications of these trends on you and your organization.

Second, run experiments and tests constantly and frequently. In a world where the rate of change is rapidly increasing the best thing to do is act as a scientist. Your company is a lab where you need to challenge conventional ideas around how work gets done. Don’t take anything for granted.

Third, implement broad based changed based on the experiments you run. So, if you text out something like flexible work in marketing and find that the results are positive then the next step should be exploring how something like this can be rolled out to the entire company. GE is doing an excellent job of exemplifying this by rolling out their “lean startup” approach to various parts of the organization.

When it comes to the future of work “late adopter is equivalent to out of business.” The question that you should be asking yourselves is what is your organizations doing about these five trends to make sure that you can succeed in the new world of work? If your organization doesn’t think about and plan for the future of work then your organization will have no future.

Via Brian Solis