Eight drivers of change

Drivers of change: Eight questions

EIGHT QUESTIONS

The how, how much, what, where, who, when, from where and why of work.

The drivers of change will influence :

  • the jobs available and the tasks required in order to do those jobs – the what of work
  • the locations from which workers undertake those tasks – the where of work
  • the source of jobs – the from where of work
  • the times at which the tasks are undertaken – the when of work
  • the way in which those tasks are undertaken and the relationship between the employer and the individual – the how of work
  • the number of jobs available and the amount of time individuals spend working – the how much of work
  • which people do the work – the who of work
  • the reasons why people work or do a certain job for a certain employer – the why of work.

What?

What?

The what of work is particularly vulnerable to change as a result of the combined effect of the eight drivers, all of which promise to have a profound influence on current occupations (see new jobs, old jobs, more jobs, fewer jobs). Demand for some existing occupations will grow and new jobs will be created, whereas others will diminish in number or become redundant. The what of work has always evolved but the drivers of change are combining to increase the pace and scale of transition.

In addition to current occupations changing, technology is impacting the tasks required in those jobs. Automation, data and novel methods of communication mean that what we actually do will continue to change even where jobs themselves remain essentially the same.

Where?

Where?

The where of work is undergoing fundamental change. Homeworking and remote working are here to stay and employers face new challenges in managing a more fragmented workforce including, potentially, employees based in other countries (see migration – cross-border working). 

Homeworking and hybrid working bring some significant benefits for both employers and employees (see Covid-19 – Agile working). For employees, commuting time and costs are saved with enhanced flexibility to arrange work around other commitments such as the school run. For employers, cost savings include a smaller office footprint, but on the other side of the coin there are issues concerning health and safety, employee monitoring, working hours and discrimination. There may even be implications for pay, as employers balance reduced commuting costs for homeworkers against cost savings on office space in setting pay (see emerging themes – flexibility; and predictions – home working).

From where?

From where?

The from where of work relates to the sources from which work will be generated, as opposed to the location from where it will be done (see the where of work). Various factors will influence the from where of work. Increased wealth and productivity is expected to generate new jobs, as it has been a major factor in job creation in past periods of change. Other developments affecting the sourcing of work will include: the insourcing of jobs as a result of concerns about the climate (see sustainability); geopolitical uncertainty (see role of the state); and declining economic advantages from outsourcing in a world of increased automation (see globalisation). 

Another source is the public sector. In the UK, 17.7% of employees work in the public sector (Q1 2021) up from a low of 16.4% at the end of 2018. This number has, however, declined from a peak of nearly 30% in 1977.

If pessimists are proved right about insufficient new jobs being created to replace redundant ones, will we see state intervention in the form of an expansion of the public sector to compensate? (see role of the state).

When?

When?

The when of work promises significantly greater flexibility. The 9am to 5pm working day has been decreasing for many years and this decline will continue. 

Increased flexibility can suit employers, who need people to serve customers outside traditional hours and in international businesses that require working across different time zones.

Employees often value enhanced flexibility as a means of enabling a better balance between work and other commitments and interests (see emerging themes – flexibility).

How?

How?

The how of work will be transformed by new technology, including automation and artificial intelligence. This will mean people will no longer be needed to fulfil many of the tasks which form part or all of many traditional jobs (see technology – automation; and artificial intelligence).

The how of work also encompasses the relationship between the person doing the work and the organisation for whom it is done.

In recent years a plethora of “atypical” arrangements have evolved including self-employment, agency work, personal service companies, umbrella companies, “worker” status and gig economy arrangements. In some cases, these have provided flexibility for the individual and/or organisation. In others, they are used to reduce tax or social security obligations or avoid employment protection rights. The future will see measures designed to preserve flexibility while ensuring appropriate tax and social security obligations and employment rights for everyone (see emerging themes – regulation and enforcement).

How much?

How much?

The how much work (i.e. how many jobs) is less predictable. Will technological developments result in a net increase in employment, as in previous Industrial Revolutions? Or will the pace and extent of change mean that this time will be different and we will need to adapt to world in which there are insufficient full-time jobs to go around (see technology)?

On the one hand, it is difficult to think of jobs that are not under threat from technology. But on the other, there are various factors that might result in certain job shortages becoming more commonplace. These include: increased productivity; the ageing workforce in richer nations such as the UK (see demographics); anti-migration politics such as Brexit (see migration); the long-term trend to reducing working hours (see social trends); and increased demand in sectors such as health and social care (see new jobs, old jobs, more jobs, fewer jobs).

Who?

Who?

The who of work is relatively simple to foresee. Workforces will become more ethnically and racially diverse, people will carry on working later into their lives, and we will see more women in senior management and leadership roles that will become more broadly representative of society (see demographics – ageing population; ethnic diversity; and sex/gender).

Cross-border business operations will mean that many workforces become more international (see migration – cross border working).

Apprentice numbers in England were coming down before the disruption of Covid-19, but skills shortages are likely to lead to an increase - especially with increasing government support for apprenticeship training costs.

Employers will increasingly look beyond technical skills and experience when recruiting, placing greater emphasis on soft skills such as flexibility and resilience (see emerging themes - flexibility; and resilience). Other important competencies will include leadership, team-working, networking, creative thinking, time management, conflict resolution, and communication skills.

Why?

Why?

The why of work will come under scrutiny. Why work at all, why pursue a specific career, why work for a particular organisation? 

During lockdown, millions experienced the absence of work or at least the lack of a physical workplace to attend – for example, while working from home or placed on furlough. Social interaction was lost, compounding a sense of loss and isolation for some people (see emerging themes – socialisation and belonging).

While some choose a career or work for a particular employer for maximum financial gain, there are many other factors that often influence people’s decisions.

People want to be treated fairly and to be appreciated and respected. They also look for a sense of self-worth, in relation to both the value of their work itself and their organisation being a leader in its field. Other important factors include socialisation, a sense of belonging, security, wellbeing, personal growth, and being listened to.

EIGHT QUESTIONS - INTERCONNECTING DRIVERS

Technology

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Technology

Role of the State

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Role of the State

Sustainability

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Sustainability

Migration

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Migration

Globalisation

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Globalisation

Covid-19

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Covid-19

Demographics

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Demographics

Part 1 

DRIVERS OF CHANGE

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Part 2 

EMERGING THEMES

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Part 3 

PREDICTIONS

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