Digital technology and globalisation are transforming how work gets done, who does it, and the working culture within organisations. The future of work in digitally transformed enterprises will be made up of highly productive workers who’ll expect to have more control over when and where they work.

In the future, labor-intensive industries will also move offshore and give rise to the service sector that will become a major player in Australia’s future of work. One of the primary reasons for this will be our ageing and ailing population, who will demand the types of jobs that will support these social changes.

There’s also a growing preference for more flexible part-time work that helps combine other responsibilities and activities like studying or spending more time with family. This approach is also being leveraged to transition into retirement.

Business models changing the workplace

The ongoing digital transformation across industries has made it much easier for workers to work from anywhere on the planet. This has created new opportunities in a shared “gig economy” that’s driven by both technology and globalisation.

According to Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, it’s estimated that as much as 11.6 per cent of the Australian workforce (or 1.2 million workers) is already made up of independent contractors. The shared economy is also expected to expand to create new opportunities for the underemployed, where we’ll see a rise in “personal skills for rent.”

In this scenario, businesses will gain access to top talent across the world, but the Australian workforce will also gain entry into international labor markets. At present, jobs in software development, data science, and web design attract the largest freelancing workforce with domestic listings rising from 26 per cent to 37 per cent between 2016 and 2018.

What the future of work will look like

While there is a notion that robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will replace the human workforce, only about 9 per cent of Australian jobs are at risk of automation. The reality is that the future of work will be augmented with AI creating new jobs where humans and machines can work together.

However, the incorporation of cognitive technologies will depend on consumer preference. For example, most people don’t like the idea of robots cutting their hair.

As the influence of automation grows across industries, more importance will be placed on soft skills like creativity, communication, interpersonal skills and leadership (intangibles that technology can’t replace). However, the demand for technical skills will remain in areas such as AI, machine learning and software development.

As AI technologies become smarter, businesses should become highly agile to react and adapt rapidly. One way to do this is to nurture a continuous learning environment where employees seamlessly upskill and reskill as needed.

So, rather than placing too much emphasis on technology, it’ll be important for businesses to concentrate on developing the emotional and social intelligence of future workers. However, organisations will need to transform their culture to achieve this.

To transform organisational culture, companies need to know how their staff really feel. The best way to find out is to take advantage of the power of AI and conduct sentiment analysis of employees.

By deriving valuable insights from the data collected from a variety of social platforms, businesses will be empowered to encourage transparency, improve communication and take corrective measures when dissatisfaction is found.

Sentiment analysis will play a crucial role in HR as the data collected will be more accurate than the information gathered from annual appraisals or feedback forms. Armed with these insights, companies can reflect on their organisational culture and take steps to ensure that everyone is fully engaged.

Is culture a tangible asset that can be optimised? The short answer is a resounding yes. While the novelty of technology-driven workplaces might last a while, they won’t ever be truly ready without laying the foundation for continuous business agility. Optimising culture will make it essential for enterprises to leverage experience and practice to identify what really works and what needs to be improved.

It’s imperative for organisational culture to be optimised to meet the demands of the digital age. Companies will want to take advantage of available technologies and tools to engage in regular maintenance, observation and action so that the workforce develops in step with the company and the markets they serve.