Welcome to the first “full on” week of the year and welcome to another year of significant shifts in the world of work.
In this video, we look at the ten trends we believe will have the most impact on the workplace and the workforce in the year ahead. For more information on these trends, and if you’d like us to help you think through how they will impact you and create opportunities for yourself and your teams, please be in touch for a no-obligation chat.
Have a great year!
Welcome to ThrowForward Thursday, my name is Graeme Codrington and let me say happy new year. If you’re watching this on the original release date of the 11 January 2024. What I want to do today is to look ahead at 2024 and to give you ten themes that I think are going to be part of what shapes the workplace and the workspaces of our lives in this coming year. These are not predictions, but they are scenarios of the things that I believe are going to be the focus points, the touch points, the pain points of 2024/2025 in our workplaces.
Let’s start with the green workplace and the green workforce. We’ve been predicting this for a while, but I think that having now lived through the hottest year in human history and 2024 is going to be filled with more extreme weather events. We’ve already started with earthquakes and volcanoes and all sorts of things. We’re going to see snowstorms soon and extreme weather and I just think it’s going to, although it’s a culture war issue and there are some people who are saying, no, it’s not happening, I actually think it’s going to be something that you can’t ignore too much longer.
We can still debate about what we should be doing about it, but I think that it’s going to become part of not just the COP conversations, not just part of the United Nations conversations, not just seen as a Governmental Policy issue, but I think it’s going to begin to work its way into our workplaces. And those companies that get ahead of this, those companies that are already working hard on a green agenda, will, I think, begin to see some of the benefits of that in 2024.
I think that we are going to see, secondly, massive shifts in government policies. The last twelve months have seen massive strikes all across the world in different sectors and different countries. There’s a real sense of worker dissatisfaction and that is then flowing over into the elections that will be taking place this coming year.
There are 70 countries, accounting for 4.2 billion people in the world that are going to the polls to have elections in the year ahead. Some of them are less consequential than others, but many will have the potential to change the governing structures of countries. And I think that that pressure from workers and labourers, not just pressure from labour unions, although that’s part of it, but just pressure from people who feeling the pinch, who feeling the squeeze of life at the moment, lower class, middle-class people who will not just express themselves in the workplace but also express themselves politically and societally. And I think that that’s going to have an impact on our workplaces and governments are going to have to adjust and sometimes will adjust their policies and regulations. Look out for that in your industry.
Now, obviously, we need to spend a bit of time talking about technology. I think one of the big technology trends that we’re going to see this year, I’m skipping the obvious stuff of AI and generative AI, of course, that’s there. But I think that we’re going to see very focused applications of generative AI in recruitment and HR practices. Trying to find the right candidates, doing assessments and measurements of people, changing our L&D learning and development stuff and training in businesses and a variety of monitoring and assessment systems. I think HR is going to be very busy with technology in 2024.
I also think that we’re going to see a lot more globalisation of HR. The workforce of 2024 is going to be more interconnected than ever, transcending geographical boundaries even for small and medium-sized businesses. And companies are going to have to tap into a global talent pool thinking about the fact that their existing staff are also capable of working globally. And, yeah, this is going to, I think, change things quite dramatically in the way businesses think about it, or if they don’t think about it, businesses are going to be very hurt, dramatically hurt, by this particular trend.
Fifthly, then, I think remote work is still going to be the big conversation. Way too many companies in 2023 were still trying to deal with remote and hybrid working as if it was a back to the office, a return to office after Covid conversation. It isn’t, it’s a future of work conversation and flexibility is now the new norm in terms of people’s mindsets and expectations at least, and it’s particularly true, let me get to point number six, that a new generation is arriving.
If you know anything about me, I’ve been working on generations and generational theory for nearly 30 years now. Did my master’s thesis on it 25 years ago in sociology, and while generational theory doesn’t explain everything, it does help us to anticipate and recognise that every 20 years or so, a big shift takes place in the way that a new group of young people seem to arrive in our universities, in our world, and therefore in our workplace.
Something’s happening again and I think even people who are 28, 29 years old now are looking back at today’s University students, today’s University campuses, and saying, what’s going on there, guys? Who are you? And I think that new, new generation are about to arrive and are just arriving in our workplace and they’re not taking any nonsense and they’re taking no prisoners. And I think it’s going to cause a massive stir in the workplace, more to come in 2024.
The seventh trend for this year ahead is there needs to be a massive emphasis on upskilling and reskilling. My word, what a year it’s going to be, to be an L&D. As long as you’re awake, as long as you’re ahead of the game, and as long as you’re not trying to just do what you’ve always done. We’ve got to make sure that 2024 sees new ideas, new approaches, because our companies, L&D professionals, and your companies, need you more than ever before.
Oh, number eight, I call fractional talent what I mean by this, It’s gig economy for adults, gig economy for grown-ups. When we think of the gig economy, we think of Uber and Airbnb and delivery guys on motorbikes. But I think we’re going to get to the gig economy for senior leaders and professionals. Maybe you don’t need a chief financial officer full-time, maybe just half-time, maybe there’s a part of your business where you don’t need a professional full full-time, and we’re going to learn how to have fractional employment. I think it’s more going to be driven by the individuals, though. People who maybe those baby boomers, the late baby boomers who are retiring but not wanting to stop work, they’re going to now get into that gig economy, but with all those years of experience behind them.
Number nine, diversity, equity, and inclusion, are not going away. I know this is a bit of a culture war issue. I know some conservatives wish that we could shut up about this, but they are wrong, and those of us who realise the power of developing a diverse and equitable and inclusive workforce, we’re going to continue to see people understand this is not an issue to be dealt with and grit your teeth and overcome this but we’ve got to now start moving beyond some of the rhetoric and move to see this as an asset to be nurtured. If you want innovation, if you need adaptability, if resilience is important to you, then diversity is an asset that needs to be nurtured.
And talking about assets to be nurtured, point number ten is that I think mental health is going to be a priority. Well, here’s the sad reality. We talk a good game, but we’re not doing it. In fact, I think 2023 shone a spotlight on the fact that most companies are actively making physical and mental health worse for all of their staff, from the CEO down to the most junior person in the business. Whatever your values and principles and policies state about work, life balance and health and all the rest, in reality, everybody feels like their boss is on their back and just work, work, work, work, work.
And that divide between what we say, we believe and what we actually do is going to sadly cause some people to get very, very sick. It’s going to be some disastrous health outcomes, and hopefully, that wakes people up to the fact that we should be doing much better. So, I say mental health will be a priority. The idea of it will become frighteningly clear and urgently required, and hopefully, that will turn into action in our businesses.
The workforce of 2024, the workplace of 2024 is going to need adaptability, innovation, a commitment to building a more innovative, a more sustainable, a more inviting and enriching future. And as individuals, as teams, as businesses, as government and policymakers, we need to embrace the changes that are coming and the potential that we have for transformative change. Transformative change in 2024, and that means we’ve got to have a future-focused mindset. And that is what our team is all about at TomorrowToday. That’s the team behind ThrowForward Thursday, and I hope that you join us throughout this year for weekly insights into the future, into how to think differently about the future and what to do about those disruptions and changes today.
Thank you for joining me in the ThrowForward Thursday studio for this unusual, different start of January session. Next week. We’ll get going with our normal and shorter insights as we jump into the future and see what’s going on there.
I’ll see you next week. Have a great year.
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Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change. Chat to us about booking Graeme to help you Re-Imagine and upgrade your thinking to identify the emerging opportunities in your industry.
For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.