Why your working future may not be what you think

30 Jul 2020 8:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Martin Belton examines Talent Transformation’s latest survey results and concludes that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be what you are expecting.


I was recently re-reading the 2020 forecasts for business, originally published at the turn of the year. Most specifically, the predictions for ‘most important issues for HR’ in 2020. I found only one that specifies remote working. I shall spare the author’s blushes by not naming him. That’s because he spends most of his copy cautioning against rushing into the experience.

I mention this because it is worth pointing how easily world changing events through history can make fools of us all. Our forecasts are always based on snapshots of the world at that moment. And, of course, dramatic changes can cause dramatic shifts in points of view and actions.

Our latest survey is, of course, just such a snapshot. Conducted in June, it represents a viewpoint based on over three months of experience of the pandemic. But it covers little of a return to what might be called normality. I believe this timing makes it even more important. It may be unlikely that we will see similar conditions prevailing soon. Even more reason to gauge opinions and attitudes under these conditions. Though how likely the views expressed will be valid in another six months’ time remains to be seen.

Surprising results

There are some surprising results. For instance, there were only slight variations between the different generations’ attitudes to work and their ability to react to change. That was true, both when respondents spoke of their own generation, and when they considered others. Similarly, when we focused on different countries, again only minor variations were recorded. The survey focused primarily on the USA, UK and Brazil, three areas with superficially different attitudes towards the virus. But it seems we adapted to pandemic working in pretty much the same way, wherever we were and however old.


But where the survey gets really interesting is when we compare its results with another survey we conducted in January 2020. Here, we find out just how quickly attitudes can change. For instance, interest in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) has more than tripled in less than six months. In January, only 14% of respondents felt that AI and automation may be important to them during 2020. Now, 35% of respondents are keen to extend their use of AI as soon as possible.

HR/C-Suite disconnected

Our earlier survey also revealed a major disconnect between HR and the other organization’s leaders. They viewed the future of work very differently on most of the subjects we identified. The advent of COVID-19 has helped to realign these views, especially when it comes to technology. Today, a remarkably consistent 69.8% of HR staff and 70.2% of C-Suite agree that increasing use of technology will help to protect against future pandemics.

This obvious shift prompted us to crunch the numbers a little harder. The more questions we examined the more evidence it provided about the challenges. It consistently backed up our earlier supposition that there is now a far greater alignment between C-Suite and HR. It seems a common enemy provides a uniting purpose! Both are now concerned and starting initiatives related to employee safety, employee emotional wellbeing, and planning for

Of course, the standout and overwhelming business change issue in our latest survey is ‘working from home’. Our respondents’ viewpoints were strong and widely positive on the issue. For instance, 70% told us that their working from home technology performed extremely well. More troubling though were emotional and personal issues. One of the real standout findings of our survey was that 44% of our sample reported that they had to deal with these disturbing problems. 5% of these were especially distressing. Security and data protection issues were also challenging in around 20% of cases.

But let’s revisit our earlier contention that these views may change in six months. It is widely accepted that homeworking will become much more commonplace, now we’ve properly experienced it. We have already shown can easily we can overcome technology challenges with just a little more training and implementation. No trouble there then.


But delving deeper, we may discover that security and data protection issues are tougher to deal with. They carry more danger and are harder to predict. Likewise, dealing with personal and emotional problems can also be real showstoppers for some. These issues could become the real ‘fly in the ointment’ for wholesale working from home adoption. That is not to say that working from home will not become more prevalent. It’s just that these are embedded issues that will not easily disappear. And that can change our views again.

Long term effects

In which case, let us turn to another change flagged by the survey. That is, the dramatic increase in interest in AI and robotics. Let’s also couple this with the other highlighted desire to use technology to ‘future-proof’ organizations. As non-urgent issues, they have not been a source of pain during and immediately after the pandemic. But this new surge of interest could lead to important long-term effects. Implementing new robotics and AI is, after all, just that – an implementation challenge. And we have just seen, when push comes to shove, how easily we can deal with that.


The wider adoption of AI and robotics can therefore become a key consequence of the pandemic outbreak. That could also mitigate against more working from home. History confirms that business, in times of change, creates many new roles. It seems reasonable to assume that generating new roles will demand working closely together in tight-knit teams. The robots will be working on company premises. So therefore, may you.

In which case, where does that leave our organizations? Will HR be busy implementing working from home solutions for ever more people? In that case, will a degree in psychotherapy become de-rigueur for HROs as demands for greater emotional well-being and personal support escalate? Or is it more likely that AI and robotics become center stage and the focus of our working world returns, once again, to the head office? After all this, I have a notion it may be the latter. But as I say, history can make fools of us all…

Talent Transformation’s latest survey “Back to Work Survey Report: How COVID-19 is affecting the Return to the Workplace” is available here.

#report #backtowork #covid19

$Martin Belton examines Talent Transformation’s latest survey results and concludes that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be what you are expecting.$


About the Talent Transformation Guild

The Talent Transformation Guild provides resources for professionals that are preparing for upskilling being triggered by 4th industrial revolution and accelerated by Covid-19. Members include c-level executives, human resource professionals, consultants, and coaches. As a member-driven organization it promotes best practices via webcasts, webinars, podcasts, articles, white papers, research and conversations to improve and make the best of the talents of individuals for the benefit of themselves and the organisations they work for.

The Guild enable stimulating and meaningful discussions to help professionals prepare for talent transformations at individual, team and organizational levels. The Guild supports the Talent Transformation Pyramid, an open source model, designed specifically to recognize the widest possible range of talent influencers and skills. To date many decision-makers are caught in traditional, linear thinking and immediate concerns to consider this. The Talent Transformation Pyramid enables you to address the challenge by promoting more strategic thinking with a focus on an organization’s readiness to perform. https://www.talenttransformation.com/

About the Future of Work

According to the World Economic Forum, new and emerging technologies are affecting our lives in ways that indicate we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. This new era will build and extend the impact of digitization in new and unimaginable ways. The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be described as the advent of “cyber-physical systems” involving new capabilities for people and machines. This will see new ways for technology to become embedded within societies and even our bodies.

With process automation, robotic automation, the internet of things the nature of work will change. Some analysts predict that more than 40% of tasks currently performed by humans will be delegated to machines. This does not mean that 40% of people will be put out of work but it does mean that most workers will have to upskill. HR experts are predicting this will dramatically change the landscape of our workforce.


About the Guild's Founders

Eric Shepherd is an accomplished leader of international businesses and associations focused on talent, assessments, and success. Eric recently stepped away from a CEO role where he worked to build a SaaS company into a multi-million-dollar international assessment software business. Eric has also led industry and standards initiatives to promote best practices for assessments, learning, and interoperability. He served on the HR Open Standards Consortium to further the goals of open, transparent and trusted approach for HR data standards development. Eric was instrumental in developing the IMS QTI interoperability standard and assisted with the US Department of Defense Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative to define the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and the Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) to define launch and track standards for Learning Management Systems.

Martin Belton has provided marketing solutions to organizations supplying HR and Learning solutions throughout Europe. After working with some of the UK’s leading PR Consultancies, he joined Questionmark where he was Sales and Marketing Director working alongside Talent Transformation’s co-founder Eric Shepherd. He was also Sales & Marketing Director at Kallidus (formerly e2train) for seven years before working as a marketing consultant to organizations supplying talent and learning systems including Netex and Saba. Most recently Martin has organized the eLearning Network Annual conference and exhibition.

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