Responding to Change: What Will the Future Workplace Look Like?

Ocg Future Workplace Greg Featured

A lot can change in such a short space of time.

Only one month ago, I was presenting our whitepaper “Understanding the Free Agent Mindset” to our clients across the country. Of the employees we surveyed for this report, more than 80% highlighted the need to be ready for change, with an increasing fear of job loss.

What was more striking is that more than three-quarters of these respondents, irrespective of their stage of career, expected to make a career change in the next 12 months. And with the onset of COVID-19 making waves across industries both locally and internationally, it may be that for many, this change has come sooner than expected.

So, what will the future workplace look like, and how can we manage our careers in this unprecedented time?

Support in Times of Change

It seems that someone fired the starter gun and pervasive shifts have been forced upon many NZ workers from an unexpected quarter. In our business, we too have taken steps to maintain resilience and adapted reasonably well to the new reality of working from home within our bubble. This of course has been made easier by the widespread availability of technology that allows remote working possible.

The closure of the Christchurch CBD that followed the 2011 earthquakes demonstrated how, in a heartbeat, everything can change. Alongside the personal impacts (which were significant), workplaces closed, and their teams and individuals working lives were disrupted. Out of this situation, many innovative and new ways of working emerged as a response to business continuity.

The use of technology, greater work from home flexibility and the rise of virtual workplaces may well be a longer term outcome.

When we published our whitepaper “The Future of Work” and I spoke about this with our clients, little did we imagine that virtual work, teams and workplace flexibility would become pervasive in so many jobs by the beginning of 2020, and that for many in customer-facing industries, work would be suspended temporarily or possibly cease permanently.

But sadly, it seems inevitable that there will be a major shift in the structure and form of some sectors of the job market, particularly where customer contact and on-site work is necessary for the production or delivery of goods and services. Many of the jobs and career paths within those sectors are in a state of suspended animation for the foreseeable future. In the longer term, a percentage of them are likely to change significantly or simply cease to exist. Now more than ever, employers and employees will need to consider transferable skills and new career paths to provide opportunity for the future.

With unemployment set to rise following the announcement of significant redundancies in bigger businesses and the SME market soon to follow, the job market will become increasingly competitive. In the current climate, the guidance of a professional job search coach may be the edge job seekers will need. We have been working hard to support our existing clients, and are fortunate enough to have online career tools and resources to coach their staff through career transitions at a time when it is simply not possible to meet in person.

As the situation continues to evolve, I really do wonder now what the future workplace and careers will look like.

For a confidential chat about how our Career Transition and Outplacement Services may be of benefit to you or your staff, contact me or one of my team, Chris Gilchrist and Amanda Hamilton.

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