Key Trends Shaping the Future of Work

There are significant demographic trends affecting business operations, workforce attitudes and the need for strong organizational leadership to navigate the pace of change. For one, the impact of an aging population is being felt across all industries. Experienced employees are leaving the workforce and being replaced by a younger generation who are digitally savvy and have fundamentally different expectations. 

This demographic evolution — combined with innovations such as robotics, workflow automation and cloud-based technologies — are posing unique challenges that can only be solved by new approaches and best practices. Many business leaders are already embracing change by driving their enterprises to digitally transform their operations. In doing so, these leaders have several critical goals in mind that include streamlining core business processes in order to boost efficiency and contain costs.

Among many other potential effects, digital transformation can translate into restructuring the company’s workplace and redesigning the way that business gets done. Influencing these strategies is the new generation of employees who are bringing novel attitudes to the workplace. These contemporary perspectives, according to one study, are marked by greater flexibility and a blurring of professional and personal goals. The desire for a more collaborative environment is another demand that business leaders will encounter.1  

Recruiting and retaining talent

One way organizations are responding to these key developments is in the area of recruiting and retaining talent as employees seek greater flexibility and personal lives become more intertwined with work. Technological trends will be reinforced by the growing gap between requirements and available skills inherent in a more dynamic economic environment. While much of our attention is focused on the impact of automation on work and jobs, additional workforce disruption comes in the form of independent work, the open talent economy, and whether people work on an outsourced basis or not.

Here’s another way to look at it: what the open source model did for software development, the accessible talent economy is doing for today’s evolving workplace. Younger, digitally connected, mobile workers are managing their careers differently, often outside categories that have defined the workforce for decades. Consequently, enterprises will need to reconsider how they can attract talent and what kind of talent they want to bring on board. 

The need for business leaders to respond effectively to these workforce challenges suggests a best practice to think about: explore business process outsourcing. Changing technological and workforce factors are driving enterprises to explore business process outsourcing to elevate performance and remain competitive. The struggle to meet ongoing operational and talent needs can drain the essential resources needed to achieve strategic and revenue objectives. At the same time attracting and retaining the specific resources needed has become increasingly difficult. Business process outsourcing providers fill the gap as an invaluable resource for organizations that are reimagining how work gets done and developing their vision for the future as people work alongside smart systems and machines.

Talent ecosystems

A report from Capgemini and LinkedIn found that over 50 percent of businesses are now feeling the pressure from the digital skills gap.2 Technology, demographic and workforce drivers are pushing business leaders to find expert service providers who can execute talent management strategies at increasing levels of complexity. Technologies are evolving so rapidly that skills training can’t keep up.  With entire industries beginning to digitally transform, businesses need access to guiding expertise that currently isn’t available. This is creating a growing demand for capable digital talent. 

One emerging strategy is the notion of a talent ecosystem that involves having a talent pool that is available as an extended, dynamic and evolving network of relationships instead of as a single static team. Toward this end, business leaders are rethinking how they engage with strategic partners and business process outsourcing providers. The trend now is to regard the partner relationship no longer as simply one of convenience, but one of necessity. Leveraging third-party providers will be an essential way to obtain specialized talent or supportive services while organizations work to refocus their efforts on reinventing core competencies, services and experiences.

These challenges around the need to obtain and retain dedicated talent indicate another best practice to consider: retrain employees quickly for new roles. With a massive skill shift underway, organizations need to move quickly retrain employees for new roles and activities. Long course cycles or static classroom learning will not be effective. Instead, organizations should provide learning content updated in real time and learning tactics focused on speed, flexibility and collaboration. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can also help personalize education, so employees are served up relevant courses and learning paths appropriate to their responsibilities.

Moving forward

Executives must consider how the changing workplace and knowledge worker skills will impact their organization. Technological and demographic trends are shaping the future of work in ways that provide both great risk and great reward. Look for providers and partners with the right mix of expertise, vision and capability that allow you transition successfully.


  1. Canon Business Process Services and Hanover Research (2017) Leading a Future-Ready Business: Vision 2025, Changing Talent and Workplace
  2. Capgemini and LinkedIn (2017) The Digital Talent Gap: Are Companies Doing Enough?

is a certified enterprise content management practitioner (ecmp) and director of corporate communications for Canon Business Process Services, a leader in managed services and technology.