After a couple of years in which the pandemic has turned working life upside-down, we’ve all learned from experience how world events can change careers – for better or worse.
So it’s only natural to wonder how trends taking shape on the horizon might affect the jobs we do in the next decade.
We don’t have a crystal ball, but we were able to dig into some expert research on the social, political and technological changes that are transforming the world of work. Here’s what we found.
Robots are becoming our colleagues
Robots are coming for some jobs, but just how many isn’t yet clear. A report by the charity Nesta on the Future of Skills says studies show between 9% and 47% of jobs could be automated. But it says humans and robots can work together, and new jobs might be created in the process: “Jobs are a complex bundle of tasks, many of which are complementary with technology.”
It suggests several strategies to “add value” as a human competing with automated systems: being better at seeing the big picture, being creative rather than purely rational, learning to monitor technology as it handles routine tasks, specialising in things computers don’t yet do, or building the next generation of smart machines.
Work-life balance is becoming more important
Even before the great pandemic prompted a lot of soul-searching about work-life balance, a UK government report called The Future of Work: Jobs and Skills in 2030 identified it as a key trend. It said “growing complexity and performance pressures” at work was causing people to seek out better balance and boundaries.
More than nine out of ten of the Millennial generation – now aged between their early 20s and 40s – identify work-life balance as their top priority when choosing a workplace, it said. Increasingly, they’re in senior roles and shaping workplace culture. Flexible working and remote collaboration with far-flung colleagues is now standard practice, and it’s likely those trends will only accelerate.
The definition of a good job is changing
Research for the management consultancy Bain found that for an increasing number of workers the top priority is an interesting job, learning and growth, or being helpful to society – rather than just good pay.
Individuals have differing ideas about what fulfilment and purpose looks like at work. Some want to directly help others, some want work that is fascinating and inspiring, and some are on a mission to change the world. But Bain suggests that more and more workers are looking to jobs to provide a sense of “higher purpose”.
Business wants to be sustainable and responsible
Similarly, a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that the pandemic had made company leaders believe that business’ impact on society and the environment had become “fundamental”.
Regulators, investors and employees are all pressuring businesses to be more sustainable and ethical. “The rise of the ‘cancel culture’ means that reputational damage could be catastrophic for brands,” one leader said. And with 2030 a crucial year for climate change targets, sustainability will only take a bigger role as the decade goes on.