The competing forces shaping 2030

Accelerate your thinking about the world you want to shape

Shaping our own destiny

We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work.

Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are changing the skills workers need, while demographic changes promise a talent shortage, longer lifespans and other significant shifts that will affect the workplace.

These changes raise huge organizational and HR challenges at a time when business leaders are already wrestling with unprecedented risks, disruption and political and societal upheaval.

To help you think about what this means for your business and your career, we worked with the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilisation at the Said Business School in Oxford and commissioned a survey of 10,000 people in China, India, Germany, the UK and the US to better understand the future of work.

From there, we developed scenarios for the future that reflect the various forces in the market. We call them the four worlds of work. You can use these scenarios to kickstart your thinking about steps you can take now.

This story is bigger than automation. It’s about people.

People respond to the challenges and opportunities raised by forces in the market. You determine how your future of work plays out.

Where to begin

Your company’s plan for the future world of work will inevitably mean a combination of obvious ‘no regrets’ actions and the occasional leap of faith. Here are some thoughts on where to begin:

Act now

This isn’t about some ‘far future’ of work–change is already happening, and accelerating.

Have no regrets; make some bets

The future isn’t a fixed destination. Plan for a dynamic rather than a static future. You’ll need to recognize multiple and evolving scenarios. Make ‘no regrets’ moves that work with most scenarios–but you’ll need to make some ‘bets’ too.

Take a bigger leap

Don’t be constrained by your starting point. You might need a more radical change than just a small step away from where you are today.

Own the automation debate

Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will affect every level of the business and its people. It’s too important an issue to leave to IT (or HR) alone. Deep understanding and keen insight into the changing technology landscape are vital.

Protect people, not jobs

Organizations can’t protect jobs that are made redundant by technology–but they do have a responsibility to their people. Protect people, not jobs. Nurture agility, adaptability and re-skilling.

Build a clear narrative

In the US, over one third of workers are anxious about the future and their job due to automation–an anxiety that kills confidence and the willingness to innovate. How your employees feel affects the business today–so start a mature conversation about the future.

The competing forces shaping 2030

The shape of the future depends on how humans will respond to dynamics we’ll all face. Here’s where we see the push and pull of those dynamics, based on broad factors influencing business.

Four Worlds of Work

We’ve developed four different scenarios for the future world of work. Each is an aid to scenario-planning to help you imagine what the future may bring. Each has implications for your people and how you work, your products and services and your business model.

Humans come first

Social-first and community business prosper. Crowd-funded capital flows to ethical and blameless brands. A search for meaning and relevance with a social heart. Artisans, makers and ‘new worker guilds’ thrive. “Humanness” is highly valued.

Which future world of work do you belong to?

Take our quiz

Innovation rules

Organizations and individuals race to give consumers what they want. Innovation outplaces regulation. Digital platforms give outsized reach and influence to those with a winning idea. Specialists and niche profit-makers flourish.

Which future world of work you will belong to? 

Take our quiz

Companies care

Social responsibility and trust dominate the corporate agenda with concerns about demographic changes, climate and sustainability becoming key drivers of business.

Which future world of work you will belong to? 

Take our quiz

Corporate is king

Big-company capitalism rules as organizations continue to grow bigger and individual preferences trump beliefs about social responsibility.

Which future world of work you will belong to? 

Take our quiz

75% of US workers are ready to learn new skills or retrain to remain employable in the future.

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Carrie  Duarte

Carrie Duarte

Partner, Transformation, PwC US

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