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Foresight | Industry Insights

How to Prepare for the Future of Work: Key Drivers & Best Practices

The ‘Future of Work’ is a much-talked-about topic evoking a sense of uncertainty in an increasingly uncertain world characterized by accelerating technological advances and shifting cultural imperatives. The ‘Future of Work’ is one of the megatrends identified by ITONICS as pervasive and impactful for businesses globally. This article explores key factors driving the future of work and draws from the experiences of some of our clients. Moreover, we outline how you can identify and monitor trends and emerging technologies relevant to your business to spot new opportunities.

3 key factors driving the future of work 

1. Workplace flexibility

Following the lockdowns required by the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, organizations were required to pivot rapidly to ensure business continuity. Fast-forward to the post-pandemic world, where remote, hybrid, and flexible working models introduced during the pandemic have become standard workplace practice, as well as a significant driver of the future of work megatrend and a means for attracting top talent.

Contrasted with workplace trends like the ‘great resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting,’ flexibility in the workplace has become a sought-after benefit for workers seeking to improve work-life balance. Equally, employers can benefit from providing flexible work arrangements through increased loyalty, improved staff retention, and the ability to attract top talent in highly competitive job markets. According to the Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, 43% of respondents said that flexible working hours helped them achieve greater productivity. Workplace flexibility can add further value to employers by improving diversity, productivity, and employee engagement, contributing to a cohesive workplace culture that underpins competitive advantage and drives sustainable futures.

Trend: New Talent Strategies

New Talent Strategies is a growing trend influencing human resources (HR) leaders. Ensuring long-term future growth and competitive advantage means navigating a widening skills gap, multi-generational workforces, diversity, and equity imperatives while competing for the talent required to meet digitalization and sustainability commitments. With studies estimating that the workplace could reflect a skills gap of more than 85 million people by 2030, organizations are compelled to explore various strategies to mitigate a potential shortage of critical skills.

In action: How o2 Telefónica responds to change through innovation

As part of strategic efforts to future-proof their organization, ITONICS customer o2 Telefónica actively nurtures innovation as part of the company culture. Our Innovation Rockstars podcast episode with Vera Betz, HR Digital Transformation Manager at o2 Telefónica Germany, outlines how their HR-driven innovation approach has enabled employees to develop new ideas collaboratively across the organization. Vera is emphatic that “Innovation is not done by one business unit; innovation is done by everyone,” a sentiment that is of importance for any organization’s future success.

o2 Telefónica’s pervasive innovation culture has produced a startup accelerator that has been a springboard for startups for over ten years. Innovation experience areas with several different use cases can be found throughout the organization, proving that innovation is an integral part of company culture. Harnessing innovation from an HR perspective means creating a framework where people can connect, synchronize and collaborate effectively to ensure organizational growth and customer value creation.

ITONICS has been a trusted partner of o2 Telefónica, which continues to embrace the ITONICS Innovation OS as a path to collaborative innovation. With unlimited access to the latest trends and technologies and thousands of signals and inspirations available in the ITONICS Innovation OS, o2 Telefónica ensures that decisions are made with the best information available.

2. AI in the workplace

The launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT at the end of 2022 provided a first glance at the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). It signaled that the implications for AI in the workplace are no longer on the horizon. With ChatGPT’s ability to write code and tell stories, the ushering in of AI in the workplace can be hailed as the most significant technological disruptor in labor markets since the industrial age. The increasing automation of routine tasks and the growth of AI capability could likely lead to job losses across industries while new types of skilled jobs will be created. Formerly, jobs on the manufacturing line were considered most at risk from automation, but generative AI’s ability to create new content has the potential to transform a wide range of industries. The creative power of generative AI tools in the hands of more individuals could change the nature of work and contribute to the exponential growth of the gig economy, which is likely to be further bolstered by the recent layoff of large numbers of employees in the tech industry.

With the rise of AI, individuals, and organizations could focus on upskilling by integrating AI tools into their daily tasks. Many large corporates have already invested significantly in training their workforce in digital, data analytics, machine learning, robotics, leadership skills, and agile methodology—a suite of skills fit for the future.  

Technology: Creative AI

Creative AI embraces the democratizing capabilities of artificial intelligence. By making skilled capabilities accessible to broader audiences, AI can empower individuals to participate meaningfully in the economy.

In action: How ERGO uses AI to enhance customer-centricity

Our Innovation Rockstars podcast episode with Dr. Sebastian Kaiser, Head of Machine Learning at ERGO, debunks the myth that machine learning makes business impersonal. He shares how they use AI to eliminate repetitive tasks at ERGO so that employees can focus on customer service and building valuable relationships. At ERGO, the primary use case for AI is improving the speed of customer contact, which comes with further benefits of cost-effectiveness and greater personalization. Sebastian is unequivocal about using AI as an enabler and advises that companies focus on doing things right. He shares insight into how ERGO’s AI department is structured and geared toward extracting the most value from the team and adds that innovation and digitalization are crucial first steps before implementing AI-driven processes.  

Using the ITONICS Innovation OS, ERGO practices continuous foresight to remain at the forefront of innovation. ERGO uses the ITONICS Insights tool to respond to rapidly changing market factors and monitor and mitigate competitor activity. To ensure strategic alignment within the organization, ERGO creates trend and technology radars annually in insurance and HR using expert evaluations. In this way, they are assured of remaining relevant while ensuring that their employees are satisfied.

3. Cultural imperatives

There has been a widespread shift to ensuring greater diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DE&I) in the workplace. Disruptive technology, such as automated résumé screening and apps that use algorithms to allocate work, can either perpetuate discriminatory recruitment practices or, on the flip side, can be used to transform workplaces. Research shows that equitable employers outperform their competitors due to higher levels of job satisfaction, trust, and engagement portrayed by their employees. Furthermore, investment in DE&I yields better retention of employees, which can be considered a boon in a highly competitive job market.

Trend: Diverse Perspectives

Diverse Perspectives explores the recognition of greater demographic diversity in the workplace. Organizations that embrace and promote diversity can expect to reap benefits such as greater innovation, improved processes, creativity, and empathy as part of a more inclusive company culture. 

Inspiration: Insurance stocktake on DE&I

The International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) undertook a stocktake on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the insurance sector in December 2022. In line with their mission to promote effective and globally consistent supervision of the insurance industry to develop and maintain fair, safe, and stable insurance markets for the protection of policyholders and to contribute to global financial stability, the IAIS recognizes the importance of DE&I considerations. A key issue in addressing DE&I challenges was the absence of agreed standards or best practices, the uncertainty of what action to take, and a lack of a supervisory mandate to act. In weighing the reputational and operational DEI-related risk factors, some outcomes included reducing the risk of groupthink by providing the safety to speak up and improve decision-making, ultimately positively impacting governance and risk management.

The ripple effect of the rapid disruption defining the landscape of the future of work will have multiple implications for organizations and individuals. Agility and awareness of emerging trends that impact the future of work will help organizations adequately prepare to thrive in a world that operates distinctly differently from how it does today. The future of work holds opportunities for organizations and individuals willing to embrace new social norms, learn new skills, and become increasingly adept at technology.

Identify and monitor emerging trends and technologies relevant to your business

The Future of Work megatrend shows that the confluence of post-COVID-19 work behavior, technological advancements, and new cultural imperatives will lead to an entirely new way of working in the future. Organizations need to see the change on the horizon and react to it in a way that fits their business needs. The analyst-curated and hand-picked trends and emerging technologies available in the ITONICS Innovation OS are the perfect starting point.

ITONICS Emerging Technologies and Trends as your starter kit

The nearly 170 trends and emerging technologies, along with thousands of inspirations - real-world proof of innovation in action - give you the strategic edge to take advantage of watershed changes in your industry. Our analyst team attributed predefined ratings to each emerging technology and trend on the platform based on various criteria (e.g., Potential Impact, Adoption Stage, Technology Readiness Level).

Moreover, our analysts have segmented the trends and technologies into digestible clusters that provide different types of value to users. These exist as presets in our Innovation OS to help you quickly filter down information that has greater relevance to different industries and megatrends and identify drivers of change relevant to your business.

The Future of Work Trend Radar


Check out the emerging technologies relevant to the Future of Work in our Future of Work Technology Radar.

Megatrends represent big shifts driving future disruption and change across industries. Our platform lets you see precisely which trends, technologies, and inspirations are pertinent to which megatrend. These have global influence and represent significant opportunities and challenges that most businesses will likely need to consider now and into the future.

Alongside Digital Transformation and the Sustainability Imperative, the Future of Work is one of the ITONICS Megatrend presets and will continue to be a critical factor in determining the success of businesses globally.

The Future of Work: Relevant Trends and Technologies

How to get started on the platform

ITONICS provides various collaborative business intelligence tools that can augment your scouting, scanning, and monitoring activities. In the video below, our continuous foresight expert guides you through the steps on how to kick-start your innovation journey on the ITONICS Innovation OS.



Get started with the ITONICS Innovation OS

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