“The future of work is being shaped by two powerful forces: The growing adoption of artificial intelligence in the workplace, and the expansion of the workforce to include both on- and off-balance-sheet talent.” (Source: Deloitte Insights)

The Future of Work is a current debate around how new technology and global changes will impact three aspects of our work environment. What work will be done (the work), who will do the work (the workforce) and where will the work be done (the workplace).

  • The Work
    We are already seeing artificial intelligence and other technologies (including robotics) make in-roads into the traditional processing and repetitive tasks of the past. This substitution of repeatable tasks will over time most likely push human interventions into areas involving problem-solving, communication, listening, interpretation, and design.
  • The Workforce
    Traditional models of companies engaging permanent, long term workforces in fixed locations have made way for flexible working models with greater use of managed services and outsourcing; independent contractors; gig workers and crowdsourcing.
  • The Workplace
    Digital communication, collaboration platforms and digital reality technologies, along with societal and marketplace changes have already made it easier for teams to be distributed rather than in fixed physical locations. We have already seen industries with bricks and mortar pulling back and closing branches/retail outlets to cut overheads and adapt to changing conditions.

In South Africa, we have a couple of pre-conceived ideas that because we tend to be a semi-skilled labour market the debate around the Future of Work should only be the preserve of specific skilled and wealthy industries and even then; are only future questions and shouldn’t impact our current approach to work, the workplace and the workforce. 

For the next couple of editions of our reporter, we are planning to explore some of the issues/questions raised by the Future of Work and consider how these are pertinent to our organisations today in South Africa.