As a new decade begins, it’s time to step back and assess how the world of work is changing. Some of these changes are difficult to predict, but there are some broad trends that can help companies think ahead. There are also a few changes you can make today to help employees do their best work.

Workers Go Mobile

The shift to mobile and remote work has been underway for years. Today, it’s become an expected quality of life accommodation, and an important way to keep a company productive and flexible.

About 3.6 million Canadians work from home some of the time, a number that’s doubled in the last decade from 1.8 million in 2008, according to Statistics Canada. That means about a fifth of working Canadians work from home to some degree. Interestingly, they seem to evenly split between people who are self-employed and those working for companies.

Regarding the latter group, there are many reasons working from home is compelling for workers and employers alike. For workers, it can make it easier to manage a household and coordinate daycare and school drops and other family obligations. In increasingly congested cities, it can reduce their commuting costs, both in time and money. These benefits can mean better retention – a boon for employers. Employers also benefit from having a staff that can be equally productive in the office and off-site.

Making this possible requires IT solutions that are robust, secure and cloud-based. CDW Canada’s experts can help you determine your needs and how you can transition toward an infrastructure that supports mobile work.

Many Tasks Can Be Automated – And Increasingly Will Be

The automation of work tasks is nothing new, but it’s now happening in more fields and with more sophisticated activities. Up to half of jobs could be disrupted by automation in the next decade, according to the RBC report Humans wanted, How Canadians can thrive in the age of disruption.

Looking further ahead, by 2030 up to 30 percent of hours worked globally could be automated (McKinsey Global Institute). And when we consider changes in occupations more broadly, as the World Economic Forum did, 65 percent of today’s school children will graduate into roles that don’t exist yet.

While these predictions tell us what changes we can expect, they don’t provide insights into how companies can prepare and respond. What skills will workers need in the future?

Soft Skills Are Ascendant

Creating a vibrant workforce in a world that increasingly runs on software will mean ensuring students have opportunities to code and paths to making it a career. But by 2018, about 36 percent of Canadians schools didn’t offer coding classes, and 59 percent of boys and 72 percent of girls weren’t confident in coding, according to a report by D2L, a Kitchener, Ont.-based maker of education software.

The report recommends helping workers upgrade their skills continuously by providing reskilling and retraining programs. Providing such support at the company level can keep staff nimble and equipped to handle the changing nature of their roles.

Another approach is to step back and focus on the skills that make people effective regardless of the tasks they perform. The RBC report assessed 20,000 skills across 2.3 million expected job openings and 300 occupations, and found growing demand for “foundational skills.” These can include social perceptiveness, complex problem solving and critical thinking – skills that transfer readily as roles change or are replaced.

What employees need now are ways to flex those muscles by connecting with their teams, even when working remotely, so they can maintain the social aspect of work that smoothes the way to solving problems collaboratively and creatively. In this way, soft skills can be supported with technology.

Prepare Your Company for the ’20s and Beyond

Putting modern IT solutions in place can make your employees more content and productive, improve retention and prepare your company for the coming decade of change and automation. Talk to your CDW Canada representative to learn how you can ensure your company is secure, adaptable and ready for what the 2020s will bring. For more information visit https://www.cdw.ca/content/cdwca/en/orchestration/the-future-of-work.html.

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