GTFS: Global Trends and Future Scenarios Index

The Future of Work and the Changing Workplace: Challenges and Issues for Australian HR Practitioners


This paper concludes that eight forces will determine the structure of the future workplace for individual employees and shape the type of work to be undertaken by the HR profession:

  • Global competition
  • Technological and communication breakthroughs
  • Demand for personal flexibility
  • Skills convergence in multi-disciplinary environments
  • Macroeconomic and demographic changes
  • Global best practice changes in people management
  • Changing business standards e.g. CSR, ethics
  • Government imposition of regulations to quell public fears

The first seven of these forces have already produced substantially positive effects for economic growth and workplace performance, but they have also combined to produce a breathtaking speed of change to economic, product and labour markets. While government intervention and stimulus almost certainly saved the world from a major economic depression following the 2008 global financial crisis, the last of these eight forces, new impositions of regulation and other forms of government intervention, threaten not only the immediate private sector confidence behind theemergence of a recovery, but also future world economic growth achieving its full potential.

In summary the challenges to workplace management from these eight forces will require future HR practitioners to be known in the 2020 workplace as:

  • Workplace transformers: transformers of the structure and conduct of work within a widely
    distributed set of locations
  • Work-life integrators: role models for integration and work-life balance
  • Next generation talent managers: a role that requires working through new value sets
  • Performance rewarders: rewarders of performance aligned to widely distributed workspaces
  • Learning architects & builders : architects, custodians and builders of new capabilities for the new learning places of work
  • CSR stakeholder marshalls: the friendly cop for tomorrow’s core stakeholder relationships
  • Engaging communicators: multi point communication facilitators across the new nine space stations of work, with a priority to maximise engagement of your people
  • Diversity champions: cross-cultural integrators and chief inequity busters
  • Regulatory wizards: compliance monitors and also advocates for better business outcomes from the regulatory environment

A scorecard of where the HR profession currently stands against the needs of these nine strategic roles is set out at the conclusion of the paper. Finally, some advice is offered to both practitioners and policy makers as to their optimal positioning in order to facilitate better functioning and higher performing workplaces in Australia by the year 2020.