In recent times, one notices that the Indian world of work is experiencing a consistent shift in terms of work culture and general socio-economic environment. This gradual and constant change has influenced the finer nuances of doing business; right from processes, to policies as well as the employee-employer relations, everything is undergoing a kind of metamorphosis. Take for instance the workforce, in the past few years we notice more and more Millennials (or Generation Y) making up the better part of the ground force. Unlike the past traditional workplace hierarchy, where older, more experienced people held higher ranks in an organization, today’s work culture sees fresh young talent, rising to managerial positions and effectively leading by example. The next generation of workers (Gen Z) is also not far behind on the ladder to corporate success. This is a huge indicator of how the future of work in our country will look like.
One only need take a glance at the outwardly layout of any company office to notice the all new fabric of the average Indian office. Where in the past, the walls were lined with single-seat cubicles now the same spaces house multi-purpose, common workstations that are shared among teams. Brainstorming or ideation meetings are now taking place in the common game rooms or specially curated coworking spaces with all modern amenities instead of the traditional conference rooms that only housed a round table. People carry their own laptops to work and settle down wherever they find a cosy nook to channel their creativity. What’s more, thanks to the rise of the gig economy, work from home is the new normal and the future of work and an increasing number of people prefer to give the office a miss and work on-the-go. Rise of remote workers in the gig economy has allowed companies to hire transient workers for small projects resulting in a win-win situation where the workers have the liberty to take up suitable ‘gigs’ per their skill level and employers save money by escaping a permanent pay-roll.
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This rapidly changing work culture of the present day and age, is comprised of various technological tools being used to warrant ease of doing business. The social media generations (Millennials and Gen Z-ers) that make up almost half the workforce (approximately) prefers to get work done quickly and effectively and move on to other equally important activities. Hence, industries have adapted to the needs of its employees. Almost every other business model incorporates automated machine learning algorithms to make various processes or tasks in a job, easier, quicker and repeatable to an extent. The same is true in the case of employing the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace.
Companies who have access to more modern, high-end technology are also trying to lessen the burden on their employees by making use of robotics in the workplace. By having programmable machines carry out various tasks that might be repetitive, dangerous or simply mundane to be executed by humans, companies ensure they maintain the motivation level of their employees. Artificial intelligence powered technology such as automated machine learning algorithms, analytics, ride-sharing, & voice-controlled application software (Alexa, Google assistant etc;) are being used to increase productivity and speed up otherwise tedious tasks, thus promoting ease of working. Although, at present, the manufacturing sector is making the best use of robotics in the workplace, other industries are likely to follow suit.
More than technology, however, it is the newer generation that is driving this change. Similar to their Millennial mates, the newest lot i.e. Generation Z has an extremely strong hand on technology. Right from baby monitors to interactive bots, technology has been a part of their upbringing and they are more than comfortable with it. So comfortable in fact that they prefer to resort to its use whenever and wherever they can. As a good chunk of today’s workforce includes young talent belonging to this generation, there is a rising trend in remote working among the Gen Z cohorts. Soon enough it can be predicted that Indian remote workforce will not only rise in numbers but also span across organizational positions, this means full-time permanent employees of the organisation would be working on a remote payroll. Right from interns to top-level executives would prefer to spend their working weekdays either at home or at a café, logged in on their laptops into their company’s Operating Systems or Mainframe. Such is the impact of the gig economy on the traditional business model.
The present workforce have certain ingrained expectations in their minds about right to information and access to information. The social media savvy generations are used to sharing a huge part of their life with a large audience; as a result of this, transparency for them is akin to forming better work-relationships between employees and managers. The newer batch of employees may not agree with the traditional methods and processes that are still being followed by many employers. A good example would be the increasing expectations for making salaries public. This idea is said to have stemmed from linking job satisfaction to wages earned. Fortunately for HR managers, a theory suggests that the more information company workers have about how much they earn and why, translates to better employee retention.
What can we take from all of this? For one, that work culture is rapidly changing and in flux. Less than a decade ago, what we could have only hoped for is right in front of our eyes. The future of work is here and now is the time to address the change, redefine traditions, introduce new values and broaden our vision of how work models must function – fluidly.
“The Future of Work is Now,” Mason Stevenson, 19 June 2019