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Author's profile photo Chris Panigel

The Future of Work is…

In SAP’s Future of Work organization, we explore the challenge of completing the following sentence: “the Future of Work is…”. As you can imagine, the answer is rarely the same.

The ever-changing business landscape all organizations are operating in drives us to understand trends to proactively shape the future that we as individuals, teams and organizations want to work in. Much of today’s conversation is focused on the impact of AI and unleashing its potential. In the Future of Work, we envision AI as a part of our teams, reshaping the employee experience and unlocking new levels of HR value delivery.

Along SAP’s journey to shape the Future of Work, we launched a Future of Work Trend Report 2023 covering twelve key trends along a holistic Future of Work agenda – covering the Future of Workforce, Future of People Practices and the Future of the HR function itself. As the halfway point of 2023 has come and gone, we want to share a few reactions along our continuous Future of Work trend-scouting activities:

  1. Pace of change: We constantly see references to an ever-increasing pace of change in the environment. Looking over the first half of 2023, we could perhaps challenge the conversation that it isn’t the pace of change, but rather the pace of adoption that has increased significantly. Changes in technology and as-good-as-immediate communication enables innovations to go from idea-to-reality at furious speed.
  2. Adaptability: What does the pace of adoption mean for you and me? We need to adapt and re-adapt on an ongoing basis. I’m sure we have all experienced a new update on our favorite technology, followed by some brief confusion and learning of new functionality or redesign followed by greater levels of productivity, engagement, or other measure. Continuous learning is a critical skill for positive reinvention.
  3. Human-centricity: The availability of new technologies offers us an opportunity to learn. Technology helped us as individuals and organizations navigate the Covid-19 pandemic with remote access and virtual meetings. This experience, however, also showed that we need to take a human-centric approach to work. e.g., understanding different schedules work for different people, or addressing burnout concerns for individuals and organizations to run at their best. We look forward to shaping the next intersection of people and technology.

We would be remiss If we did not include Generative AI in the original challenge:

  • Me: Give me 3 one-word options to complete the sentence, “the Future of Work is…”
  • GPT-4: flexible, collaborative, automated

Is AI right? Check out our Trend Report 2023 to find out!

What are the trends that you expect will shape the Future of Work agenda in 2024+?

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      Author's profile photo Daniel Wroblewski
      Daniel Wroblewski

      The opportunities in our rapidly changing world are enormous ... I can create and distribute an app to millions of people within days or even hours without any development skills, I can publish content and communicate with millions across the world almost instantaneously, and let's not get started on AI. If my situation is less than perfect, the world will quickly change and I will find new opportunities.

      But ...

      It still feels that people are serving the change (and its Silicon Valley / powerful masters) instead of the changing world serving the people. We are given "coping mechanisms" to deal with the change (if I was really cynical I would compare it to taking soma in "Brave new World") but we still are told we must "embrace the change" -- "Human-centricity" is only the 3rd bullet point, and even there it only seems to hint at perhaps some tips for just dealing with it all.

      For example, I (and everybody) are becoming more and more addicted to our phones, and occasionally we are told to put the phone down and enjoy life. But when I leave the phone at home, I am often later chastised for being unreachable, and even mundane tasks often require my phone for identification or payment.

      Perhaps this bowing to societal demands always existed in my grandparents' time – finish school, get a job, make money, raise a family, pay taxes, support our institutions. But it seems that people are less and less able to keep up and society is more and more willing to leave people behind.

      Author's profile photo Chris Panigel
      Chris Panigel
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you for your insightful reply – one that also triggers the opportunity for much more discussion! To me, the points you raise helps emphasize that the Future of Work is not about only technology or our collective needs but taking into account the broad range of trends across macro factors to challenge and shape the right balance in this “intersection of people and technology”.