What is the Future of Work? (2022 Update)

Remote work as we know it will transform in 2022. With the effects of COVID-19 variants rippling worldwide, new workplace and project management trends for the year deal with a well-rounded approach to new methodologies. So take a few moments to stop worrying about today and take a peek into the future of work — you won’t want to miss these exciting predictions! 

How is technology shaping the future of work?

The emergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has led to the reduction of manual tasks, which will allow employees to focus on their creativity. In order to keep up with these trends, workers will need to learn new skills and continuously improve their knowledge. Meanwhile, employers will have to strategically choose tools that are easy to master and improve productivity, despite the growing demand and complexity of work ahead. 

Automation and the future of work

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many organizations to rethink their operations. The need for increased efficiency without sacrificing quality will lead to an increased dependence on automation

According to Gartner, by 2024, organizations will save 30% on operational costs by combining task automation with existing processes. This is no surprise, as most organizations are already implementing more advanced automation methods such as AI.

AI and the future of work

AI is expected to completely transform the way project management and standard functions are performed by 2030. Not only will this make it easier to automate tasks, but it will also help employees companywide make better decisions. For example, project managers will continue to use AI-powered data analysis tools to predict project requirements based on evidence from past recorded work. 

Future ways of working in project management

The digital transformation of project management that we’ve seen over the past two decades should be the norm in 2022. New tools and methods of working allow employees to work from anywhere, while employers benefit from the increased productivity of their workers. Online project management tools are becoming more prevalent in today's business environment. 

The line between home and office will blur

Remember going into the office? Whether you’re fully remote, hybrid, or finally in-person again, the work sphere as we know it will continue to evolve this coming year. 

Office buildings are going extinct

Virtual tools such as Zoom, Slack, and project management solutions will continue to make it easy to collaborate with team members all over the world. And now that companies are pulling from overseas talent, it makes sense why the need for entire buildings with multi-floor offices is a thing of the past for some brands. 

Working from home will be the norm

The Global Workplace Analytics forecast states that “25-30% of the U.S. workforce will be working-from-home one or more days a week after the pandemic.” It makes sense considering how teams have adjusted to this style of work already. Between cost-opportunity savings, employees’ willingness to trade a commute for a pay cut, and the flexibility work from home offers, we can see how Global Workplace Analytics came to their conclusion. 

Workspaces will be personalized 

Organizations will look to technology to personalize every aspect of the office, including open workstations that will be “beamed” a worker’s lighting and temperature preferences, as well as their contacts, projects, and work files, so employees can easily move around. 

Offices will be less expensive to maintain

Emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will measure foot traffic and daily activity to turn off lights and A/C in empty rooms, tell cleaning crews not to bother with an unused conference room, and make offices more efficient. 

Technology moves from tool to strategic advantage

Advances in technology will continue to be a huge driver of change. How we interact with our colleagues, clients, and employers is about to see a radical shift thanks to the prevalence of mobile devices, social media, wearable tech, and public health and safety concerns. 

You'll join a social workplace 

Although there was once a pronounced line between your life on social media and your life at the office, that line has blurred in recent years and will start to disappear completely as companies start implementing internal social networks like Slack and Facebook At Work. 

There will be an emphasis on devices

According to Gartner, “Through 2024, remote workers will use at least four different device types for remote working, up from three devices in 2019.” This includes everything from phones to computers to remote employee monitoring tools. 

More collaboration tools will be adopted

Collaboration apps, along with the remote teams they support, are here to stay, and more companies are using them than ever before. But in order to spur adoption of these tools among their teams, businesses will start emphasizing the benefits for individual employees (schedule flexibility, better recognition for achievements, etc.) over benefits to the company (greater innovation, productivity, etc.).

Your own personal work assistant is coming soon

Smart voice-activated assistants like Siri and Alexa are going to keep improving, to the point where artificially-intelligent assistants will be running in the background at work, learning our patterns in order to anticipate and provide the information we need to improve our productivity and work performance. 

Expect IoT and wearables at work

Mundane tasks like starting a fresh pot of coffee or turning on lights at the start of the workday will be taken care of by IoT devices, freeing employees to focus on more creative and complex tasks. Wearables will tell employees when to take a break and which foods to avoid for better energy and focus. Companies will collect data on employee activity, mood, and habits and start to experiment with people analytics in order to determine how best to support employee performance and satisfaction — without looking like Big Brother.

Work management will no longer be ad hoc

It’s not just the tools and technologies we use that will change; our attitude towards work and how we approach getting it done is shifting. Over the next several years, organizations will embrace new management techniques, values, and standards in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and cultural shifts around work-life balance. 

Expect smaller, flatter organizations 

More new ventures will keep it small, with a core group of founders and key employees, and they'll hire freelancers from around the globe to fill the other necessary roles. Meanwhile, larger companies will minimize hierarchy and embrace flat management styles like Zappos' “holacracy,” giving workers greater ownership over their projects, freedom from rigid job titles and descriptions, and more input in the company’s direction.

'Entrepreneur' will be redefined

As the way we take on new projects changes, so will our concept of entrepreneurship. The word will no longer primarily refer to someone who invents a new product or launches a business; it will come to include independent freelancers who team up with other freelancers, forming a temporary group to take on bigger, more lucrative projects than they could tackle individually. 

Experimentation and iteration will be the norm

Companies will start to see themselves as laboratories, focusing less on refining the same standard processes and products and instead prioritizing experimentation and constant innovation. 

Slacking off? You won’t have to hide it

Businesses are coming to appreciate and encourage “off times” when the brain is able to wander, explore, and later make interesting connections that lead to new ideas. Companies like Google have long encouraged and made time for employees to pursue side projects and indulge their curiosities, and that attitude will spread to companies looking to keep their employees sharp and engaged. Since we as a collective have been in survival mode for more than two years, it’s no surprise that managers are interested in helping their employees thrive now more than ever. 

Cross-functional and soft skills will dominate

As new tools and technologies open up fresh possibilities and modes of approaching our work, the skills we'll use to succeed will become more unconventional, and soft skills will be highly sought after. 

The gig economy will bring new opportunities

Some of the most in-demand skills for the next decade revolve around the emerging "gig" economy, like personal brand coaches who help freelancers and consultants market themselves, and ‘Tribers,’ who work with companies to assemble the perfect teams for specific projects. Even teachers and professors will go freelance, choosing to work for one of the many on-demand, online learning platforms. 

You’ll be updating your resume more often 

The days of spending your entire career at one company, painstakingly working your way up the ladder to the corner office, are gone. In fact, a recent study shows “Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) plans to move on from their current employer in three years or less, and only one in four plan to work for an employer for five years or more,” which means short-term gigs are here to stay. 

The new norm will be to work for a company for a handful of years, gain experience and skills, and then move on to a new opportunity. It'll no longer be enough to master one skill and use it throughout your career — you'll need to master several and be able to switch between them. Highly specific "nanodegrees" that take a year or less to earn will become increasingly popular, and both companies and employees will learn to adapt to higher turnover rates. 

You'll need to master remote work

You’ve seen the statistics — with 80-90% of the workforce stating they want to telecommute at least part-time and 50% stating they already do, remote work is here to stay. But over the next several years, we’ll refine our approach to remote teamwork in order to better recreate the genuine social connections and collaboration that, as of now, we can only get at the office. 

Companies will be remote by default

Instead of established companies embracing some remote teams or employees telecommuting occasionally, companies will be built remotely from the get-go. Everyone meeting face-to-face will be the exception, not the norm, as companies embrace the technology that allows them to hire talent wherever it happens to be located. 

You'll redecorate your home to accommodate work

Many homes have an open floor plan, which isn't usually conducive to focusing and getting work done. With more people working from home, telecommuters will start creating spaces within their homes for work. 

Culture will define company success

Flexible hours, remote work, and the need to keep talented workers engaged over the long term will lead many organizations to spend more time and resources creating a company culture that makes employees want to come to the office. 

Colleagues will become members of a community

In a time where “85% of employees are not engaged in the workplace”, the question is more commonly not how to hire the best talent but how to keep them. Companies will focus more effort on creating a tangible and genuine sense of community, which excites its employees and compels them to stick around. 

Circular evaluations and feedback are coming

Performance reviews are going away as companies phase them out in favor of more flexible means of giving and receiving employee feedback. Organizations will place greater emphasis on coaching, skills development, and letting employees set their own goals, as well as gathering internal feedback on an ongoing basis so that everyone in the company is focused on improvement, from the CEO down. 

And don't forget: New employee perks

While health insurance, paid vacation, and other typical benefits won't go away, more companies are adding personalized perks that stress their company's unique culture and their employees' personalities. They're rethinking standard benefits to provide what their workforce really wants, like paid parental leave, ongoing learning opportunities, and helping employees repay student loans. 

Organizations will prioritize diversity

Facebook and Pinterest require that at least one woman and one underrepresented minority be considered for every open senior position, and Twitter and Pinterest are making their hiring goals public for greater accountability. More companies will follow suit as they become increasingly intentional about cultivating diversity on their teams, and they'll implement measures to counteract unconscious bias, like “blind” interviews where candidates and interviewers can’t see each other or their voices are masked. 

Hiring managers will look for culture fit...

For your next job search, experience, diplomas, and GPAs will start to take a backseat to your drive, goals, and willingness to learn. Essentially, do you fit with the company culture? You also may be able to BYOP (Build Your Own Position), focused around your specific interests and industry, developing a relationship with a company first and then creating the right role from there, rather than applying for a specific open position. 

... And you'll be choosier about accepting jobs

Compensation will no longer be the top consideration. As people look for jobs that fit in with their lifestyle, values, and professional goals, organizations will adapt by fostering a sense of purpose for employees — although what that looks like can be difficult to discern (and even more difficult to deliver). 

Ready to put these cutting-edge trends into practice? Get a jump-start on your 2022 project management with Wrike’s two-week free trial.

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