Abhijit BhaduriGuest Author

Trends: The Future of Work, Workers & Workplaces

By Abhijit Bhaduri

‘IT firms in India are in the midst of the industry’s largest retrenchment drive, with seven of the biggest companies, including Infosys, Wipro and Cognizant, planning to lay off 56,000 engineers this year.’

In November 2016, Larsen & Toubro, India’s biggest engineering firm, shed 14,000 employees, or 11.2 per cent of its workforce, in one of the biggest corporate retrenchment exercises in recent times. The $16-billion giant explained it as an attempt to “right size” its strength in the face of “business slowdown caused by digitisation of operations”.

What’s happening? When the topper gets a C+ in his or her grade sheet, the teacher pauses to ask why. It is that C+ moment in the world of work. IT jobs had it all: money, gadgets, tenures abroad and everything else that middle-class India dreams of.

Connected WorkerThe tech disruption

If you think the disruption is a problem for the tech sector and techies alone, think again. Every sector – from farming to fashion – is getting redefined by digital technology. So, every sector is a tech sector. Business models will be redefined by digital tech. If you are not doing it, your competitor will force you to. Traditional models of work, workers and workplaces are getting replaced with new formats that decision-makers and leaders need to understand. The pace of change is exponential. Airbnb, which started in August 2008, has a market capitalisation of $31 billion, and is in more than 65,000 cities in close to 200 countries. The market capitalisation of Hilton and Marriott is around $20 billion and $34 billion, respectively.

The changing workplace

Every company expects productivity improvements of about 30-40 per cent every year. The only way to deliver it is to use digital technology: Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, chatbots and so on are now terms every business has to grapple with.

Pay-as-you-go makes it possible to use services without owning assets. For the enterprise, software and hardware no longer need to be owned. It resides in the cloud and everything from upgrades, applications and maintenance can be distributed to any company around the world. From hotel rooms to movies to relationships, everything is moving to a subscription model.

Rethink work worker and workplacesTechnology is making online work similar to local work, with added speed, cost, and quality advantages. The new workplace is heavenly – it is in the cloud. Talent communities are becoming the new office where everyone hangs around.

To be able to keep pace with fickle customer taste, companies will need to run fast and be agile enough to change direction all the time. That can happen only when a team of experts come together to accomplish an outcome even as they race against the stopwatch.

That means we may need AI-powered platforms to pull together individuals into the dream team that will succeed. Performance appraisals have been historically designed to evaluate individuals while employers pasted slogans of teamwork and collaboration in the cafeteria. We may need new approaches to hiring, performance management, reward and recognition.

Read On…

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About Author

Abhijit Bhaduri works as the Chief Learning Officer for the Wipro group. He lives in Bangalore, India. Prior to this he led HR teams at Microsoft, PepsiCo, Colgate and Tata Steel and worked in India, SE Asia and US.

He is on the Advisory Board of the prestigious program for Chief Learning Officers that is run by the Univ of Pennsylvania.

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