This is explored in detail in Adecco Group Foundation’s latest white paper ‘Future of Work post-COVID: Bridging divides for shared prosperity’, which complements the company’s earlier research, Reset Normal, a global survey of 8,000 people that revealed their thoughts on the key drivers of change in the world of work beyond the current crisis.
The whitepaper highlights the workplace disconnect that exists, particularly around:
Digital transformation – business leaders are more upbeat than workers about the positive impacts of technology on the future workplace
Remote working – leaders envisage a move towards more remote working, while workers are focused on more flexible work schedules
Sustainability and security – operational sustainability is a bigger priority for leaders than workers, while the latter have more concerns about employee welfare
Skills – High-end tech skills are valued by leaders and workers, but their views differ on the merits of those all-important soft skills
However, while workers’ and business leaders’ expectations for the future differ, they are not mutually exclusive, and the white paper also explores the solutions for aligning them more closely.
The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across all sectors and unlocked new opportunities for growth through AI, robotics and automation technology. Business leaders are optimistic about the benefits that these changes will bring to the workplace, with as many as 74% polled in an informal survey with business leaders during the FU.SE Digital 2020 event sharing that sentiment.
However, with the impact of COVID on the jobs market, coupled with apprehensions about the impact of automation on jobs, only 35% of workers shared the same optimism about the future as their bosses. Female workers are less optimistic than their male counterparts, with 43% of women expecting the post-COVID future of work to be worse, compared with 39% of men. Predominantly still the main carers, women are more likely to lose jobs.
This expectation mismatch could mean further polarisation of the workforce in the future, with leaders that are overly optimistic failing to recognise the biggest concerns of their employees and not taking the right measures to engage them in the transformation of the workforce. If female workers are disadvantaged as a result, many of the gains made in terms of gender equality, diversity and inclusivity over the last decade could be undermined.