What is the future of work?

You’ve probably seen the headline “robots are coming for your job!” While there is no doubt that some job roles will become obsolete as technology evolves, the likes of AI, automation and robotics are not here to “take over.” They’re actually enhancing what we do, and how we do it.

These robots could be better described as human-deployed tools that enable us to be more agile, more responsive and more ambitious. In other words, the future of work will be populated by technology that is deployed and implemented by humans.

Future workplace trends to watch

Human skills are and will continue to be irreplaceable

Technology will complement, streamline, and redefine existing jobs rather than merely replace them. Gone will be the days of long hours spent working on spreadsheets, processing data, or handling customer inquiries. Those tasks will be streamlined by machines, allowing workers to focus more time on complex tasks which require a human touch. As well as working with advancing technologies, junior employees will be more involved in planning, reporting, and analytical jobs, and as a result of this, their required skillset will change.

The growing importance of soft skills

Judgement, curiosity, making sense of complex situations and contributing creatively are just a few of the things that machines cannot replicate or replace. These “soft skills” are fast becoming key selling points for businesses, and highly sought-after among the workforce.

“Recently, at a conference on applied robotics, I asked the panel of 10 academics what skills they hoped their students would attain with their degrees. They cited: inquisitiveness, creativity, curiosity, flexibility, human values, practicality, proactivity, drive, self-awareness, and passion for life. It’s a challenging list, but one that would seem to be aligned to what many employers are looking for now, and in future.”

Nicola Strong, occupational psychologist and MD of Strong Enterprises

The message from our research in partnership with Foresight Factory is clear: while AI, automation, robotics and human enhancement technologies may offer exciting new ways to push business forward and boost capabilities, any employee’s greatest asset will continue to be human skills.

We invite you to read and share this research with your management, HR leaders and innovation teams.