Many forces are converging today in unprecedented ways to reshape the nature of work. To understand and adapt to these forces, leaders need to start thinking seriously about three important areas of concern: the future of workers (who are questioning the role that work plays in their lives and demanding more from the organizations they work for); the future of working (which is evolving rapidly thanks to hybrid and flexible work arrangements, digitalization, and automation); and the future of work itself (which evolves in response to macro forces and societal shifts). The authors refer to these three areas as the who, the what, and the why of work. Each has its own particular set of challenges. Leaders need to confront and address these challenges, and the authors of this article provide suggestions for how they can best do that.
The last few years have been marked by generation-defining crises — political, economic, societal, and environmental. Much that we once took for granted about the world of work has been called into question, and much that was previously unimaginable is now an everyday fact of life. But the churn is far from over. As a recent recruit at a global consulting firm told us, “We are at the beginning, not the end, of massive upheavals in our work lives.”