undconsorten LLP

Future of Work. Where is the journey taking us?

Future of Work?

From machine learning to demographic change, the acceleration of technological and social changes presents companies with new challenges.

On the one hand, current business models are put to the test: new products and services are appearing, customer demands are changing and value-creation and profitability models must be adapted or defined anew. On the other hand, central questions must be posed regarding the “future of work” and hence about the tasks, employees and organization of businesses of the future:

  • What tasks will become obsolete, change or arise?
  • Who will carry out these tasks? Which skills do they require? What will future employees demand from their work?
  • How must structures and processes be adapted to enable and support value-adding work?

First recognizable trends

Our project experience has shown that, as you might expect, answers change according to industry, region and function. Nonetheless, nine overriding trends can be identified:

Tasks


  • Integration of predictive analysis in management and business processes

  • Augmentation of workforce

  • Further automation of manual and cognitive activities

Employees


  • Drift in demand and supply for high- and low-skill workers

  • Constant renewal of skills and knowledge

  • Increasingly purpose-driven employees

Organizations


  • Hybrid set-ups with “classical” and agile structures

  • Focus on project work and temporary assignments

  • Fluid boundaries with externals

These trends offer an excellent basis for developing clear perspectives on the “future of work” within a business, from the deduction of implications with top management teams (Impact Alignment) to the development of concrete scenarios and levers (Strategic Workforce Dialogue), and the design and implementation of individual measures (“Future of Work”-Pilots).

  • Impact Alignment.
    What is really relevant?
    • A common understanding of the drivers of change within the top management team is the foundation for actively crafting it. Together with you, we evaluate trends and their implications to develop a picture differentiated according to region, function and business area, and hence to prioritize further measures appropriately.

  • Strategic Workforce Dialogue.
    How can we plan when everything is always changing?
    • Classical approaches to strategic personnel planning fail because they only calculate future needs once, applying great effort to (often) flawed data without taking sufficient account of current or planned initiatives (e.g., recruiting, up-skilling).

      With Strategic Workforce Dialogue, we identify, working together with HR and Business, critical “hot spots.” We model different scenarios only for these in order to deduce implications for job families, skills and capabilities. In addition, we define concrete measures. A yearly anchoring of the dialogue on “hot spots” allows for experiences to be shared and dynamic changes to be accounted for.

  • “Future of Work”-Pilots.
    How do we make our business fit for the future of work
    • In our different consultancy fields, we have successfully developed, implemented and rolled out pilots together with our clients – e.g., crowdsourcing for the development of strategies, constructing agile teams and supervising management teams when engaging with “frenemies.”

Future of work - Can you spot our nine hypotheses?
Project Examples
  • Adapting HR strategies to the future of work for an international media and service group
    • Together with our clients, we helped define the meaning of future of work trends more concretely for HR strategy, equipping it better for the future. Moreover, we sorted and evaluated trends and their implications, developing a differentiated picture.


  • Investigating the effects of digitalization and innovative organizational forms for an infrastructure company
    • We investigated the effects of digitization and Industry 4.0 on the business model of a large German infrastructure services provider. For individual subdivisions along the value chain, specific use cases were developed in order to make the potential implications of technological development concrete and quantifiable (e.g. automatization or use of Big Data).

      In a parallel contract, we worked out in how far relevant social and organizational trends (e.g. autonomous teams, agile collaboration) could help shape the digital future in a business. Viewed overall, the potential connected to this largely depends on whether the value-creating steps in question demand a high or low level of procedural security.


  • Developing a strategic position towards the digital “frenemies” of a media group
    • With the rapidly growing relevance of large digital tech players, the question arises of how one will have to take a coordinated position towards “friends” and partners in several sectors and, at the same time, towards “enemies” and competitors in others.

      With an analysis of the relations of individual business units and the development of recommendations for action, we supported top-level managers in strengthening cooperation with “frenemies” and leveraging previously unrecognized potentials in shared initiatives.