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5 Future of Work Trends for 2024

Exploring trends, challenges, and opportunities in the evolving landscape of work.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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It's always difficult to predict the future of work, especially against the backdrop of the last few years where we've had to contend with a pandemic, a roaring economy, hiring bonanzas, then a market correction resulting in slow down, layoffs, and now it looks like the economy is heading toward a soft landing. 

So what's next? Here the five trends that I believe will be the focus of 2024: 

1. The evolution of leadership.

Leadership is always a sought after commodity but let's be honest, many leaders are inadequate for the road ahead. Leadership skills will need an upgrade and fast. 

A noticed leadership deficit are leaders who actively practice pre-pandemic management -- micromanagement, demands of five days in the office, reading badge swipes, and a general big brother approach toward management. That's not going to cut it. Leaders need to be focused on enabling trust and deepening employee engagement.

That means moving away from the command and control approach and instead focusing on the employee experience. Effective employee engagement is building a more holistic experience. The key part is exemplifying the five drivers of engagement as per Gallup -- purpose, development, empathetic management, ongoing conversations, and focusing on strengths. Leadership shouldn't be by decree, rather, it's about motivation, inspiration, connecting folks to meaningful impact, championing growth, dialogue, feedback and accountability.

2. Remote and Hybrid.

There are many trends borne of the pandemic and one of them is hybrid and remote work. What was before the exception is now the norm and many organizations are still working through how they can make it permanent as companies are realizing the cost and productivity benefits.

A big part of remote work will be focusing on employee wellbeing and mental health. Earlier this  year, the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, said that we've entered an epidemic of loneliness and that the lack of connection is contributing to a public health crisis in our country. 

Given how much time people spend working, there will need to be greater attention on creating more social connection and investments in employee wellness such as incorporating more health benefits, resources, flexible policies to support mental health, and a culture of connection.  

Ultimately, it will be an ongoing balancing act of driving productivity and practicality. 

3. AI Everything. 

AI was all the rage in 2023 and that trend is unlikely to change going into 2024. We can expect to see exciting growth in AI adoption - from chatbots to machine learning to automation embedded in many processes and operating behind the scenes. 

However, as AI usage spreads, we can't lose sight of unintended consequences. There are so many implications --  the perpetuation of bias, enabling discrimination through opaque, unauditable algorithms --  transparency, explainability, and fairness in AI design must be part of the conversation.

AI could also displace many jobs while creating new kinds of work. The question will be how folks respond -- reskilling or rejection. AI is just a highly evolved tool and addressing skills gaps will be crucial. The demand is already high for roles in areas like machine learning, data science and cybersecurity. There are immense opportunities for folks who embrace and harness AI so encourage and train your team on how to use AI so they're AI equipped.

Like any transformative technology, AI needs guided guardrails and responsible development focused on enhancing human potential beyond just efficiency. The ethical application of AI will define future progress and with thoughtful consideration AI can drive breakthrough innovations that serve all people. 

4. Gig Work Undercover.

When I used to work at Uber, I used Uber ride sharing practicality everyday. I'd typically get into small talk with the driver and ask about their experience. It was nearly always the same answer, "I love the flexibility." The expansion of the gig economy is no surprise -- people like flexibility in their work and that's not going away. Whether it's independent, temporary or contract work arrangements, we can expect side hustles to grow in 2024 and make up a bigger component of the labor market. Platforms enabling the marketplace for this type of flexible work will continue to emerge to meet the needs of this growing segment.  

5. Leadership shuffle - Boomers to Zoomers 

As Baby Boomers continue retiring, leadership roles will go increasingly to Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z aka Zoomers, bringing generational shifts in preferences and work styles. This will be an inflection point for many organizations as they will have to quickly adapt their management approaches to effectively meet the moment.

How folks lead will be especially important since many older leaders express they don't understand Zoomers. And when you consider that Zoomers will make up 25 percent of the workforce by 2025, leaders better learn about this group and in a hurry. Zoomers are more apt to care about DEI, flexibility, and values driven companies -- understanding Zoomers workforce needs and how leaders engage will be critical.

Not only are new folks moving into new leadership roles, it's happening in the most challenging and complex of times. Remote work is a confounding time for many leaders -- especially with young Zoomers entering the workforce who don't have the backdrop of the office's communal support structure to encourage their growth and development of professional etiquette. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images. 

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