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Everyone wants to know: “What does the future of work look like?” It’s a difficult question to answer, considering the constant changes in workforce demands and advancements in HR technology. And according to a recent employee engagement survey, only 28 percent of respondents said their company focuses on employee engagement and 20 percent said they don’t regularly measure their employee engagement. This leaves a lot of room for improvement. Here’s a quick look into what we can expect in the future of work:

1. Location will become less important

In the “open talent economy,” varying work hours and schedules will arise from the fact that a growing number of jobs are information-based. This increased flexibility will foster a better work-life balance, which is especially important to the growing number of millennials in the workforce. To get a preview of what we can expect in the future, we can take a look at Switzerland’s workforce of today: According to a report by Deloitte, one in four people in Switzerland currently works independently as a freelancer. This career choice seems attractive to their neighbors, since one-third of the remaining population would also like to join these freelance ranks. Likewise, 28 percent of the entire Swiss population now work remotely from home for some portion of the week. A Gallup survey states, “the optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend 60 to 80 percent of their workweek – or three to four days – working off-site.” There are numerous benefits of offering remote work, including reduced cost-savings. For instance, a typical business would save $11,000 per person per year if they offered remote working. Location will continue to be less important, as long as employees remain productive and engaged.

2. Organizational structure will flatten

The changes brought by technology will result in more than just a change in where people work; experts predict a radical shift in the underlying structure of companies. In place of the traditional corporate hierarchy, a new “lateral” configuration will emerge. Cathy Benko, co-author of The Corporate Lattice, explains that the combination of increasing workforce diversity and digital connections has resulted in a flattened-out management structure. Ideas and power flow along more horizontal pathways, while organizations prune out extra layers of management. Meanwhile, an article by Page Executive reveals millennials prefer a less hierarchical, more transparent and flexible way of working and a flat management structure better supports innovation and agility.

3. AI and chatbots take center stage

As workplaces embrace artificial intelligence (AI), the resulting displacement of workers will be revolutionary. The McKinsey Institute estimate that, by 2025, the global economic impact of AI will be somewhere between $7 to $13 trillion dollars. This is a massive market to tap into and for HR to leverage. Let’s start with chatbots for example. Chatbots are everywhere today. As the new “face” of AI technology, chatbots are delivering an intuitive interface for every business function, from customer service to employee engagement. In fact, 80 percent of brands will use chatbots and AI technology for customer interactions by 2020. Expect to see chatbots, such as Allie from Achievers Listen, pop up more in the workplace. Chatbots like Allie turns the one-dimensional survey activity into a three-dimensional dialogue between the employee and chatbot, with the manager being prompted to close the loop on feedback with real action.

4. Employee networks will be as valuable as employee skills

In the new workplace structure, employees with extensive personal networks will be considered highly valuable to their organizations. The ability to reach out and form connections within their industries will be just as important as the technical skills and education they bring to their jobs. As a corporate analyst and futurist Jacob Morgan explains, the shift from past to future includes a shift towards borderless platforms. He states, “Digital transformation really comes down to increasing collaboration … and borderless platforms helps that happen.” The right employee network can also help improve your recruiting efforts, with 73 percent of recruiters making successful hires through social media.

5. Recognition remains a staple of engagement

Did you know companies identified recognition as having the greatest impact on employee engagement? And currently, 60 percent of companies plan to increase their investment in social recognition technology? Employee recognition isn’t going anywhere. If anything, recognition will only be given more focus in the coming years. A Workplace Trends Report finds that recognition yields 50 percent higher sales, 27 percent higher profits and 21 percent better retention. Recognition programs will become more robust and platforms will become more advanced, with additional social and reporting capabilities. Companies, such as Shop Direct and Availity, are already leveraging cultures of recognition to boost engagement. Thanks to Shop Direct’s employee recognition program, Shine, and it’s associated initiatives, Shop Direct’s engagement survey has seen a 17 percent increase.

6. New forms of HR technology

With evolving HR technology, the role of HR departments will be constantly be reinvented. New forms of HR technology will be introduced across the entire range of traditional HR functions, from recruiting and interviewing to onboarding and training. New technology is already being developed to improve employee well-being and increase retention – this includes new technological advancements for recognition and rewards programs and employee listening tools. With new forms of employee feedback platforms, HR is now able to empower employees and managers to take action and impact engagement right away with personalized, bite-sized actions. Keep a lookout for new forms of HR technology that will reinvent the wheel and change the way companies work.

To learn more about the future of work and AI, check out Achievers’ report (in partnership with Lighthouse Research & Advisory): “Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace: Making Work More Human, Not Less.


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