Future of work trend #1: Reinvention

If 2020 and 2021 were years of unplanned reinvention, 2022 is our opportunity to make intentional changes. There will never be a better time to seize the moment to transform.

It’s time to put reactive and extreme responses behind us, so we can move forward knowing the future will continue to be unpredictable. We now need conscious strategies to address digital acceleration, climate change and ongoing disruptions to supply chains – because these issues aren’t going away.

In the Asia-Pacific region, for example, we expect to see increased use of automation, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing tools to lower the cost of onshore production in the face of material shortages and trade shocks.

And of course, it’s also time to make sure we reconnect – with each other, with our organisational purpose and with the ever-changing needs of our customers.

This intentional reinvention will also have implications for how we attract, manage, and retain talent in 2022 – in six ways.

1. The rise of the ecosystem

New platforms and marketplace models have been changing the way we do business for some time – from Amazon to Alibaba. For example, Indonesia’s first unicorn, Gojek, is effectively the equivalent of Amazon, DoorDash, Uber, PayPal and Stripe in one business. As more organisations see the growth potential of ecosystems, they will need to stop thinking about work in terms of ‘jobs’ and start clarifying the future skills and mindsets needed to successfully bring customers, partners and even competitors together.

2. Flatten the operational structure

Agile ways of working are now business as usual – and that demands a more fluid, non-hierarchical structure. It’s no longer a case of leaders rising to the top, but leadership spreading across the enterprise and its wider ecosystem in a network effect. These enterprise leaders will need to be able to perform and transform, beyond business function siloes.

3. Personalise production

Customers increasingly expect a high level of personalisation – but doing this at scale requires a complete re-think of product design and manufacturing processes. Advances in 3D printing can make small batches more efficient, and we expect more ‘hybrid’ manufacturing to occur. Frontline production workers may need reskilling, as well as more autonomy, to respond.

4. Augment humans with machines

An interesting side effect of COVID was the challenges of operating large offshore call centres in India and the Philippines for extended periods of time. We saw some corporations accelerate the adoption of Robotics Process Automation (RPA), including AI-based chatbots, to undertake some of this repetitive work. This has proven highly efficient, while also improving customer experience. Human tasks are likely to focus more on the deep thinking, unique, or low-volume work – activities that cannot (or should not) be automated.

5. Re-imagine remote work

Hybrid, flexible work models are here to stay. So now’s the time to make the most of their potential. Can you attract talent in geographies you may not have considered before, or use remote work tools to improve collaboration between onshore and offshore teams? Leaders will need strong emotional intelligence to engage employees on their preferred channels.

6. Mash-up your industry with tech

We are seeing tech transform customer and employee experiences across entire business sectors – from AI-enabled eCommerce transactions to the use of algorithms to drive media streaming content. In the mining sector, control centres can now be located thousands of kilometres away in city hubs, while autonomous trucks and trains with advanced analytics and sensors are improving logistics, safety and productivity. This means, no matter what industry you work in, you’re likely to need coders and data analysts. And the competition for digital skills will only intensify.

We have already shown how much we can achieve when we have no choice but to adapt. Make 2022 your year of intentional change – and consciously realise the positive impact of transformation.

To learn more about the 7 trends dominating the future of work, download our white paper
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About the contributor

Mithran is a Senior Client Partner in Korn Ferry’s Melbourne office and leads the Organisational Strategy and Transformation practice in the Asia Pacific region.

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