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07 Jan 2022
by Debi O'Donovan

REBA Inside Track: why the revolution in work has barely begun

If the past two years have brought huge change to the way many people work, then the coming years will bring an even greater revolution in working practices. I believe we’re not even halfway through this revolution, and here are three reasons why.

 

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1. Tomorrow’s workplace will have a different function

Let’s start with the obvious one: some jobs can only be done in-person at a set location, the rest have become location neutral. These latter jobs will not completely go back to the place they were conducted previously. Over time, more offices will change in design to allow for flexibility according to job and team demand. Leases will be renegotiated and many buildings will change function over the coming decade. As we work differently and interact differently further new creative and unforeseen working ideas will emerge.

2. The death of nine-to-five

Our old industrial-era schedule of working will reformat. Currently many still adhere to a rough nine to five, Monday to Friday pattern. But we are aware this is already being tweaked, morphed and fudged to allow for personal circumstances ranging from working at the time of day individuals are most productive and when cross-time-zone-calls take place, through to allowing for school runs and exercise classes. Parameters around meeting times might become the norm, with the rest pegged to outcomes by achieving deadlines/targets as opposed to hours spent at a keyboard.

3. Jobs and skills won’t look the same

What jobs entail and the skills needed is also shifting. In some industries extremely rapidly, in others less perceptibly. From robots taking over in warehouses and engineers repairing machines via remote computer, through to delivery people using handheld devices and desk-based staff using Apps for communication. How we work is evolving to be unrecognisable.

Anyone coming back into work now after a two-year break will have serious catching up to do on the basic functions of working. Add in the shifts and evolutions in service design and product development to meet environmental targets or benefit from technological evolution, and it is clear to see that the skills that will be needed in the near future are barely foreseeable right now.

So as reward and benefits professionals, what does this mean?

First, skills mapping will become vital. From understanding the skills you have in your organisation today through to what you will need in the coming two to five years (and beyond, if possible). Then tying these back to pay and progression (or lateral moves to broaden skillsets and experience). Progression may not always mean upwards movement, and pay reviews may not be limited to annual increases.

Second, time and location are important negotiation areas for reward packages. How pay structures reform to meet the demands from talent to work in different locations at times to suit them can only be guessed at, but it will change, with some forward-thinking employers already trialling different options. Tax and social security structures in different territories are a constraint, as is the state of flux in which we live due to the nature of the current pandemic. So, this is a space to watch.

REBA will continue to gain insights from leading reward practitioners on how they are evolving this thinking in practice in order to share it with our wider community during 2022.

The author is Debi O’Donovan, director at REBA.

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