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The Future of Work - What does the workplace of the future look like?

The Future of Work - What does the workplace of the future look like?

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We are not only passionate about always looking at what is coming next in the world of organisations and people but also looking at the impact that is going to have on the broader social environment. We organised a workshop with thought leaders across a variety of industries to discuss what the future of work looks like.

As a global recruitment agency, we are able to gain unique insights across the industries we operate in, both locally and internationally. We work with a lot of organisations and individuals enabling us to get an in-depth understanding of what challenges they are facing. In today’s world workplaces are changing drastically and quickly, and organisations - especially smaller ones - are not prepared for the fast pace of change. 

It seems that organisations are not fully aware of the impact these changes are bringing, and in turn, they are not planning for them. This big shift that is coming down stream is not only happening at an organisational level - individuals will also need to think about what these changes mean for them. 

While there has been a lot of research conducted and published about ‘The Future of Work’, it seems we are still not really prepared for it across the broader workplace. 

The aim of our workshop on ‘The Future of Work’ was to bring different people together to discuss what the ‘Workplace of the Future’ looks like, and what individuals and organisations need to do to ensure they can keep up with the fast pace and remain competitive. 

“If individuals are not starting to re-skill and gain practical experience in jobs of the future it may become increasingly difficult to transition as roles become displaced.” (Louise Langridge)

Thought Leaders 

Morgan McKinley brought together a diverse group of thought leaders to discuss the big challenges for the workforce of the future (1-5 years). 

Louise Langridge

Louise Langridge
Joint APAC Managing Director
Morgan McKinley - Global Recruitment Services

“Organisations are not prepared for how quickly the workforce is changing, especially smaller organisations. People also are not thinking about what it means for them, which is what they really should be thinking about.”

lauren caldwell

Lauren Caldwell
Head of Adoption - APAC
Feathm AI - AI Analytics SaaS Platform for the Future of Work

“We are providing analytics to support the nature of change to help people understand what is happening to the workforce. We identify what industries and jobs might be disrupted and how they are being disrupted.”


Dr Catriona Wallace

Dr. Catriona Wallace
Founder & Executive Director
Flamingo AI - an Ai native Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration Hub for Enterprise. 

“We are building the technology that will augment or replace the workplace. Businesses and individuals are not prepared for it, they do not know what they should be re-skilling for and how to raise awareness so that people do not get displaced.”


Kathy Condos

Kathy Condos
General Manager
Commonwealth Bank of Australia

“The way we work and the work that we do is changing rapidly. These changes will have impacts for people and the broader Australian community.”


Catia Davim

Catia Davim
KPMG Australia

“Whatever we do in our jobs, Governments etc, let’s do it with a lense of social purpose.”


Vanessa Harding-Farrenberg

Vanessa Harding-Farrenberg
Joint Managing Director APAC
Morgan McKinley - Global Recruitment Services

“We also need to be thinking from a purpose perspective; we need to be thinking and guiding the people we have worked with over many years.”


Anne Marie Holubinskyj

Anne-Marie Holubinskyj
Head of Organisational Development
NBN Australia

“We (at NBN) are a disruptor to the industry and are also being disrupted at the same time.”


Angela Coble

Angela Coble
Director of Business Technology
Johnson & Johnson

“What I think is missing and what we have not really captured is that we need to be intellectually compelling and emotionally appealing...bringing those together in this world."


Jody Weir

Jody Weir
Head of Agility
The Iconic

Jody successfully facilitated the workshop bringing together the above thought leaders.

While discussing the predictions, the disruptors and those that will be disrupted, one issue that stood out was the fact that we need to create more awareness around this topic. 

It is more important, however, to not just look at the problem at hand but to look at how we can bridge the gap with potential solutions. What are the actions we have to take now to solve for this?

The workshop was broken down into 5 areas:

  1. Predictions

  2. Disruptors and Disrupted

  3. Change Managers

  4. Key Challenges 

  5. Action Plan

According to the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum 75 million jobs may be displaced globally by 2022 while at the same time 133 million new roles may emerge.

When discussing the future of work, our group first looked at the predictions to really think about what will be happening in the next one to five years in the workforce, in particular how the workforce and workplaces are changing today.

These predictions were grouped into three areas: Speed & Scale, Social Impact and Technology.

Speed & Scale

future of work speed


The pace and magnitude of emerging technology are drastically speeding up automation and is thus increasing the risk of more and more employees being displaced at a fast pace.

New roles are evolving already and all roles will eventually end up being affected by these changes. The main question is really around how those roles are going to be impacted and what we can do today to prepare for the future.

Social Impact 

The second key prediction was the social impact these changes will have on organisations and individuals. One common theme was that of unemployment - it is predicted that these changes will lead to an increase in unemployment (affecting certain concentrated geographic locations more so than others). Unemployment is also often closely linked to mental health issues and well-being

future of work social impact


“There is no doubt these changes will cause disruption. But we can see that from the disruption comes opportunity. It is a moment in time where organisations can consider how they can create new work and help people develop the skills for this.” (Kathy Condos)

When talking about the social impact of these changes, it is becoming more and more important that organisations work more closely together to tackle certain issues across industries rather than each organisation trying to find a solution to the problems by itself.


Technology has been a hot topic of discussion over many years, and it will continue to evolve at a rapid pace. 

Technology is replacing key roles today already, and in turn, transforming the look of supply chains across all industries. This, however, will create problems in the long-term as organisations are not thinking about the end-to-end architecture, nor the level of investment required to maintain the scale of change. 

2. The Disruptors and The Disrupted 

When considering who or what will be causing the biggest disruption, there were quite a number of topics that were brought to light: 

Emerging Technologies

future of work ai


As mentioned above, technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, making it one of the fastest emerging disruptors. Things like Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, 3D printing and robotics will all cause an impact. 

The privacy and protection of data and digital literacy is becoming increasingly important as well, especially when there is the potential of technology being the cause of the problem. The companies which ultimately have control of this data will win the game, whereas those that do not could suffer in greater ways than before. 

Leadership and the Rise of the Vulnerable Leader

Vulnerable leaders are leaders that are comfortable with being uncomfortable. They will be the ones that will disrupt how the workforce goes forward. What will become increasingly important is to create leaders who are authentic, vulnerable and are able to completely be themselves in the workplace. 

Being vulnerable is not a bad thing. It is about taking down the facade and admitting to not knowing everything, especially in a field like technology where everything is changing so quickly that it is almost impossible to keep up. 

Media and Social Media

“Media is a function of what is happening on social media. It is a question of who is leading, and who is led?” (Catia Davim)

We will see social disruption through social media because people today are so well-connected, they don’t need media to carry the story. Since the launch of social media over a decade ago, people are more connected than ever before. Social disruption is well and truly here, and it is not going away anytime soon. With so many platforms available to people, any story will be read and reacted to almost instantly.

Global Political Power

If we think about the Governments and the nations that are putting a lot of energy and investment into creating more people with data science capabilities (India, Singapore, China for example), these people have the potential to become the leaders in this space and, therefore, disrupters.

Supply Chain Disruption

As mentioned above, technology is transforming the look of supply chains across all industries, whether it be the creation and production of something or the delivery of a service. 

If we look at healthcare as an example, there is huge potential for disruption by technology. Today we have to go see a doctor in person, in the future we might not even have to leave the house to get a diagnosis by a doctor. That doctor might not even necessarily have to be in your country. 

The question will become that of competitiveness - what is cheaper, more accessible, what services are offered, what is their point of difference?

Mergers and Acquisitions

While the size of the market is huge, the number of players operating reduces. Competitiveness will always be present; the impact here is that technology will have to change to enable that type of acquisition. Governments will have to rethink policy because colouration and coalition will look very different if one organisation owns the majority. 

“The ones that can capitalise on that disruption first, have got a real competitive advantage. The early movers advantage is going to be huge in all of this.” (Louise Langridge)

The Disrupted - Who will be disrupted in the future?

The answer here is simple: Everyone!

Every single person will be disrupted: all organisations, all industries, developing and developed nations, society, schools and both higher and lower socio-economic groups.

Higher Disruption to Women

Automation is moving fast in replacing administration based tasks and process-driven roles, most of which are dominated by women on both full time and part-time capacities.

Research by McKinsey shows that between 40 million and 160 million women globally may need to transition between occupations by 2030.

If we think about the roles that are going to be displaced first, those are heavily weighted towards female occupations and part-time female roles. 

When looking at the question of who or what will be managing these changes, this can be broken down into six groups:

  1. Us - Thought leaders of this topic

  2. You - Every single person is accountable for their career

  3. Education - Career coaches, Institutions

  4. Industry bodies - Governments, Unions

  5. Leaders - including the role they will play in leading the change?

  6. Change teams - All Change teams that exist in organisations

  7. HR - HR groups and SWAT teams

4. Key Challenges - What are the key challenges we will face?

The key challenges were grouped into four areas:

  1. Social health - Creating meaningful lives, how do we keep our humanity?

  2. Accessibility  - This is looked at from two perspectives:
    a) people’s willingness to learn new things
    b) accessibility to training and being able to switch to new careers

  3. Communication - The rise of “Fake news”, campaigns around awareness, building confidence and moving away from complacency 

  4. Financial - Short term vs long term goals? Governments prioritising policies around this (FBT implications), investment in re-skilling and tertiary education institution capacities.

One of the key challenges is: How do we keep our humanity when all this change comes through? As more roles become automated, the human characteristics are what we will have to lead with, those will be the key traits we will both want and need. 

One of the current major challenges in Australia on this very topic is the investment in re-skilling: the law says that if you are being trained in something outside your job family, it is subject to FBT, which can double the cost of training for organisations. 

The lack of access to Data and Technology

The gaps between digitally included and excluded Australians are substantial and widening for some groups with 15% of Australians being digitally excluded. This is not limited to the older generation - it includes the younger generation that, while they own a mobile phone, they do not have the finances to use the data. 

This is creating a massive gap between those with access to data and information and those without. We need to start thinking about this total division from a society point of view. 

future of work human


Based on the discussion findings and insights and in order to move the dial forward on this subject, potential actions that need to be taken are: 

a) Create more awareness around this topic, 

b) Bring together disrupting organisations.

Creating Awareness

Creating a market awareness campaign could be a potential action that will help address two key areas:

  1. Building awareness more generally across the market on what lies ahead

  2. Identifying potential solutions to help individuals and organisations bridge the gap. 

“The fear around disruptions is out there, it is installed in us. What is missing is that there are actually possibilities and solutions to create bridges.” (Catia Davim)

Bringing Together Disruptors

While organisations are competing in the market, it will be important to bring the key players in the disruption field together to tackle the challenges of the future, to drive the impact, and achieve positive outcomes for all in a world of the unknown. 

Further Reading:

MIT Technology Review - Asia’s AI agenda: AI and human capital
What is the future of work? Deloitte Insights
Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide
The Good Things Foundation

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