New Study: It’s The End Of The Work As We Know It

A survey of C-level executives finds that when, where and how we work will all have drastically changed by 2030. Key takeaways.

The pandemic crisis may not be quite over, but it’s clear that it has already created a unique opportunity to reimagine talent strategy for the coming decade, and the world of work will look very different in 2030 than it does today, according to a new CEO survey by consulting firm Protiviti and the University of Oxford.

The study is part of an ongoing research project, VISION by Protiviti, which is diving into global business leader sentiment about a host of “big-picture” trends that will reshape the world in the coming decade.

Research leaders shared results of the study on work during a webinar hosted by Chief Executive (replay available). The following are key takeaways from that session:

Hybrid is here to stay.

• While 78% of companies’ employees worked full-time in the office pre-pandemic, survey respondents said that 70% of employees will have a hybrid home-office work model by 2030.

• However, 57% of employers still say they are very likely to mandate where and how employees work in 2030, which could cause some tension. “Workers have more choice, more power and certainly more flexibility that they’ve had in a long time, and maybe ever,” said Joe Kornik, director of brand publishing and editor-in-chief of VISION by Protiviti, who notes that if the jobs employees want aren’t available, “they’ll just create the ones they want.”

• Workers seeking greater flexibility will be able to point to the fact that remote work did not significantly reduce creativity, networking, professional development or social interaction, according to CEOs interviewed for the survey. “At the very least, the jury is out,” said Dr. David Howard, Director of Studies at the Sustainable Urban Development Program at the University of Oxford, who notes that respondents found greater efficiency and collaboration during the pandemic.

• Work location, notwithstanding, 78% of North American leaders believe the standard 5-day-40-hour workweek will become more prevalent, while in the Asia-Pacific region, 35% of business leaders foresee more flexibility.

Overall, the definition of work has changed on a broader scale, said Peter Richardson, National Managing and Architect for the Future of Work for Protiviti. “Work is no longer just somewhere we go. It’s something we do and can possibly do everywhere and anywhere. That trend has accelerated pretty rapidly.”

New skills will be needed.

• 86% of all participants agree that the type of jobs their employees will perform in 2030 will be different from today. “So that’s a massive transformation of the types of roles employees will have,” said Howard.

• While the conventional wisdom holds that new technologies such as AI and automation will replace humans and therefore decrease jobs, 75% of survey respondents say that adoption of new technologies will actually increase the size of their workforce as employees do different types of jobs with greater efficiency and productivity. “[They see it as] a chance for their companies to grow,” says Kornik. “They won’t be the same jobs, but there’s an evolution happening.”

• But the new ways of working will also widen the skills shortage chasm: 86% of business leaders believe their company will face a shortage of skilled labor by 2030. Interestingly, 78% of North American business leaders believe that quantum computing will have no relevance for their operations in 2030, while more than half of leaders in Europe and Asia Pacific believed it would have a transformative impact.

• 85% of all business leaders will look to improve their use of AI and automated recruitment processes for staff hiring over the next decade. “The speed of this transformation is far more than anyone would have envisaged two years ago,” says Howard.

• Eight in 10 respondents, across all continents, recognize the following as key areas of concern over the next 10 years: new technologies, particularly AI and automation; shareholder concerns over climate change and management diversity; system integration; and the need to retrain employees.

Culture changes (and potential clashes) ahead.

• For the first time we will have four generations, from Boomers to Gen Z, working alongside one another—and each will have different expectations of how work is done and how groups work together.

• 70 percent of business leaders foresee a change in the gender balance of management structures, suggesting greater engagement of women over the next decade.

Overall, Kornik notes that anecdotally, respondents saw the seismic changes of the past two years, and those coming up, as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvent their business,” says Kornik. “If we do this right, we’re going to end up in better shape than we were pre-pandemic.”