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The future will bring great change
Employment as we know it will radically change in the coming decades. The future of work will be defined by the implementation of today’s technology for tomorrow.
Computer-driven automation and machine learning (artificial intelligence) will power a lot of the work tasks of the future. A good number of employees will be replaced with computer software. This might seem silly, frightening, hopeful or dismal, but there is no stopping it. The coming way of technology will transform our society forever.
Certain jobs will disappear
In many ways, it’s a good thing. Productivity will skyrocket and ROI will be incredible. It will be possible for enterprises to be run by a small team with a lot of computing power. Jobs will be redefined. Some are even predicting that jobs will disappear altogether. If this seems too good (or bad) to be true, just look at how companies run these days.
A lot of jobs have been reassigned or phased out due to software replacing sheer manpower. It is uncommon to find a company that doesn’t run on SAAS or have an entire company’s operations in the cloud, managed by other companies.
Indeed, entire enterprises can be run without a physical office. This brings new opportunities for many and will become an interesting dynamic once in place.
But, let us consider, what good is HR if there is no workforce?
Before you HR managers call this doomsday for your careers, you should consider that there is a lot of opportunity in the future of employment. Sure, it might already look bleak as companies shift from hiring to using employment contract agencies, but if you dig deeper, there is a chance for some HR managers to help define their future.
Opportunity in techonological innovations
In fact, hiring will be an even more critical task that requires absolute precision. Not only that but, HR will undergo a technological revolution. HR will be directly involved with the future of employment. Some of you might think that it’s really up to each individual department to determine whether employees are needed are not, but, you shouldn’t discount the fact that HR must be responsible for creating a productive working environment machines involved or not.
Don’t forget that department heads usually aren’t experienced in fostering a great working environment. Nor are they experts in onboarding. As machines increase in relevance, the workforce will change greatly.
It’s best not to think of the change in the workforce as a change in employment, but a change in tasks. While it will be true that a company doesn’t need a large force of workers to do repetitive tasks, what won’t be true is that people will be out of a job.
Just like the shift in jobs from manufacturing to information jobs, we will see a shift from repetitive, single-purpose, low thought process jobs to creative, multifaceted jobs. Work hours will be spent on solving problems and generating new ideas rather than operations and work tasks.
Work will be exciting and it will be up to HR to find the brightest, most creative people to lead companies forward and accelerate industry growth at an exponential rate.
HR will likely focus on behavior, motivation, emotional intelligence and acumen rather than skills and experience.
Skills and experience will become obsolete as artificial intelligence replaces the need for carrying out tasks.
Less is more
Companies will start to run lean. And by lean, that means how many people work there. A lot of departments will be decentralized. That is, in-house departments will dissappear and be replaced by external services. To give you an example, think of how sales used to be. Many companies used to have a huge workforce of telemarketers cold calling people at all hours of the day to get leads. These days, the marketing department brings in a lot of leads through technological services such as search ads and content marketing. Customer servie use to be in-houce but now a lot of it is outsource and supported with software such as Zendesk which facilitates with communication and information sharing increasing efficiency.
HR services might also follow suit and become more of a service than a department. How does this change things? HR performance will be increasingly predictable, reliable and automated. In many ways HR today does a lot of guesswork. As a detached model, HR will increase its value by scaling it’s capabilities across multiple companies assisted by software and virtual networks of people.
Additionally, HR will be able to better manage “microjobs” or extremely short term work assignments. Instead of providing labor, they provide solutions. In order to become the source of solutions, HR will need to get a handle in very technical areas and thus will either specialize in certain areas within an industry. HR will merge with today’s consultant industry.
How is all of this possible?
The 40 hour work week must disappear, releasing people to perform in multiple work engagements. Income must be distributed by new economic models. Technology must be open source.
It looks like pie in the sky, and maybe it is. Maybe it’s too optimistic. However, productivity has reached the point where society can produce more than enough food, energy, and health services for its population (though that distribution is uneven today). What will push us past the tipping point is when technology drives us to that threshold where an equilibirum is reached between productivity and distribution of the proceeds of that productivity.
Unlimited, renewable energy from sun, wind, and solar, free, relevant education for anyone who wants it, and open source technology that will be available to more people so that they can focus on problems in various areas.
The question we should be asking is why hasn’t it all been achieved already? That one can be left to sociologists and politicians.