This is a world where corporate responsibility isn't just a nice-to-have but it's a business imperative.
It's characterised by a strong social conscience, a sense of environmental responsibility, a focus on diversity, human rights and a recognition that business has an impact that goes well beyond the financial. Workers and consumers demand that organisations do right by their employees and the wider world.
Trust is the basic currency underpinning business and employment. Companies have to place their societal purpose at the heart of their commercial strategy.
“Climate change [will be the biggest impact on the way we work], we are going to have to change our priorities.”
Workers are attracted by the opportunity to work for an organisation they admire and whose values match their own.
Even so, competition remains intense for the best talent and therefore financial reward is still important. The incentives package is an essential tool in attracting and retaining workers and has become increasingly inventive. Three weeks' paid leave a year to work on charity and social projects is standard practice.
Workers are expected to reflect the values of their employer, both at work and at home through organisational pledges. Travel is tightly controlled and monitored and there are incentives for inventive and efficient use of resources.
The HR function, renamed ‘People and Society’ embraces a broad mix of HR, marketing, corporate social responsibility and data analytics.
In this world the idea of a job for life returns to the workplace lexicon.
In this world automation and technology are essential elements to protect scarce resources and minimise environmental damage.
Technology is used extensively to replace the need for travel, in turn driving rapid innovation in communications technology.
But in the Green World, technology is a double edged sword: it allows organisations to meet their ethical and environmental agenda, but at what cost to humans?
The Future of Work: In their own words
“I started my career in solar power but I couldn’t resist when InsurCorp approached me to help set up the Relief Division of their Infra-Drone business a couple of years ago. I had a lot of approaches but everything about Infra-Drone really appealed to me, so here I am.
We use infrared technology and drones routinely as part of our insurance business. My division adapts and deploys drones on a benevolent basis for low-income communities in the Drought Belt and around the world to monitor for flood risk and forest fires. We might be just a small part of the world’s biggest Insurance company – but we can genuinely say that this work is saving lives.
I could work from home but I like to come into the office to meet up with the team and to focus on innovating together – it’s allowed as long as you walk or cycle. The only non-negotiable of the job is that we spend an hour every day on compliance training and renewing our personal pledges. Everyone does it, including the CEO – environmental, employment and financial regulation is constantly evolving so there’s a lot to keep up with, but it’s also an important part of the company’s culture.
We’re now officially zero-emissions and entirely energy self-sufficient across the whole InsurCorp business. Achieving this goal meant embracing automation – but the company took a far-sighted view of the people it would need around the world and supported workers to gain the right new skills. It was the right thing to do.
At the moment I’m using any spare time I have to plan this year’s special leave – we’re allowed up to two weeks’ paid leave every year to work on altruistic projects. I want to volunteer on a project that’s installing an atmospheric water plant in Central Africa but the fact that I have to fly there is proving a sticking point for our people.
I’d say that everyone here is like-minded – we’re ambitious, certainly, and constantly want to push the boundaries of technology. But the adventurous, altruistic spirit spills over to our everyday lives too. The modern world can be harsh, but we’re fighting against that.”
All companies, individuals and products described in our Visions of the Future and Road to 2030 sections are entirely illustrative and bear no relation to any real-life examples.
Partner, Global Leader for People and Organisation, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 77 3987 4275
FS People and Organization Practice Leader, PwC United States
Tel: +1 (646) 471 2377
Director, Workforce of the Future research programme, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 77 1016 9938