What is Future of Work? And Why Should You Care?

The COVID-19 epidemic has disrupted our working life and is likely to impact the way we operate in the long run. Poise Nigeria commissioned a poll of company executives in November 2020 to better understand these trends. According to the findings, the crisis may hasten certain already ongoing workforce developments, such as the use of automation and digitization, increased demand for contractors and freelancers, and more remote work. Those changes in turn will create greater demand for workers to fill jobs in areas like health and hygiene, cybersecurity, and data analytics.

The poll responses allude to a time of disruptive transformation ahead. Not only has COVID-19 displaced millions of people, but the jobs that emerge from this crisis are likely to be different from those that were lost. People with the lowest incomes and educational attainment have been disproportionately affected, putting a burden on attaining inclusive growth and perhaps jeopardizing their future prospects, raising income inequality. Small and midsize businesses already more severely affected by COVID-19, are also more vulnerable to disruption from increased automation.

For which of the following roles do you think your company or business area will hire more people because of the COVID-19 crisis?

N= 800 respondents.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that more than 80 percent of workers in the Nigerian economy cannot work remotely. Their jobs require at least some physical presence such as standing on a meat processing line, helping customers in a store, or providing healthcare services. The potential for remote work depends on the nature of tasks conducted; workers in jobs requiring interaction with machinery or in outdoor spaces, for example, are less likely to be able to work remotely than those using computers to do their work.

There will be challenges in managing a workforce that is working partly remotely and partly in person. Companies will need to reconstruct how work is done, decide which employees and roles are best suited to remote work, and reconfigure and rethink the workplace.

COVID-19 already has dramatically changed the way many jobs are done, and employers are now planning how best to extract benefits from those changes as they prepare for business after the pandemic subsides. Greater digitization and automation, more demand for independent contractors, and increased reliance on remote work have the potential to deliver better productivity, lower costs, and enhance resilience. Innovation historically has driven changes beneficial to workers and humanity at large, and new workplace trends hold the promise of greater productivity that will fuel broader well-being. The trick will be in reducing the risk of unequal outcomes, ensuring companies of all sizes can benefit, and preparing workers for these shifts.