As we continue to navigate the pandemic, we find each day different from the “normal” we were used to. From the way we work, to the environment we find ourselves in - everything has almost transformed overnight with many implications. A tumultuous present such as the one we find ourselves in today is bound to also have many long term implications – most of which are yet to be seen and understood.
The short term implications, whether it's remote working, an increased role of technology in our lives, or the way we manage our work and families, are all areas that are continuously evolving. Where these nuances will finally settle, only time will tell. We have also seen that this disruption has been felt more by some industries than others. The common denominator that has caused transformational changes for some sectors is the degree of physical proximity that it entailed - travel leisure, restaurants, personal care, classroom learning etc. are all examples of short-term high impact.
What is further being observed are trends that appear more long term and point to a big shift in the way organisations do business. Most such changes probably had their roots planted much before the onset of the pandemic, however the speed of adoption has accelerated in the past year or so. There is research done by the World Economic Forum and others that alludes to new jobs that can be expected in the workplace by the year 2025 as also the ones that are likely to become redundant by then. From an India standpoint, while this situation is still a work-in-progress, a few trends of in-demand jobs that one can observe across industries are:
- Data Specialists: While adoption and implementation of technology was already on a growing curve, organisations increasingly have to rely on the data to be mined, analysed and presented in a way that aids predictive decision making as opposed to mere reporting. In light of this, jobs pertaining to data scientists, big data specialists etc is likely to be on the rise
- Digital Transformation Specialists: The world as we’ve known it, is better connected than ever before. Physical distances are being made irrelevant by the advent of digital transformation specialists who are looking at end to end solutions that would put all relevant stakeholders of an organisation in a common digital space and connected in real time. Augmented reality/ virtual reality are all examples of digital technologies that are being adopted faster than we know it. The growth in E-commerce business is testament to the idea of digitalisation and with it, comes the need for designers, visual merchandisers, performance marketeers, UI/UX experts and the rest.
- Productivity Boosters: All jobs falling in the purview of productivity enhancement are definitely getting noticed and being invested in. Organisations with deeper pockets are likely to invest in jobs pertaining to R&D and Innovation to stay ahead of the curve. Operational innovation is being looked at closely by specialists of automation, and robotics.
- Security Specialists: As the world progresses to a far greater digital and online presence, organisations are faced with the task of protecting their own data as well data and privacy of their key stakeholders. More and more emphasis and investment is being done in this area to ensure data safety at all times.
- HR roles of the future: An interesting study by HBR and a few others highlight the roles within HR that are likely to be the need of businesses going forward. Employee Well-being would continue to grow as an area of focus and demand for specialists in this area is likely to increase. With adoption of technology, HR analytic specialists would play a bigger role in using data to take critical hiring, development and productivity decisions. People and culture specialists are likely to be in demand for ensuring fairness, and de-biasing of policies and practices.
These are a few examples/ observations of changes in the Indian context. While jobs of the future are constantly evolving, the manner in which they may be structured, is also going through a paradigm shift. The need of the hour for organisations would be to embed resilience and “antifragility” in their organisation structures. Taking cue from how companies struggled last year with restrictions on travel, national and regional lockdowns combined with the sudden shift in the need for technology, agility in the Indian context was probably a bigger challenge as compared to some other countries. Even within the country, some industries grappled with it more than others.
Understanding that this may not be the last time the world goes through a disruption of this nature, leaders in board rooms are increasingly talking about building that resilience within the structure of the organisation. This isn’t the same as an emergency response plan. This is a more intentional and proactive approach to building local leadership teams and specialists that would have both the ability and the empowerment to ensure business continuity in the advent of similar setbacks .
The implication of some of these changes that are unfolding before us, is immense. Both organisations and individuals suddenly have a lot more flexibility and more options to do what works best for them without having to worry about factors that inhibited them in the past. As dark as the past year or so has been, there is a silver lining that promises a very exciting future. Shackles of the past may as well be forgotten as India as a nation has the potential to embrace these changes with the power and vigour of its youth and the abundance of talent that resides here.