Articles | August 27, 2020

The Future of Work is Now

After years of incremental changes, the public health emergency is fast-forwarding us into the future of work. Everyday norms are no longer taken for granted  including the nature of the work we do; when the work is done; who does the work; and where it is done. We explore this new future of work below.

Work: What employees do and how they do it.

Young female employee working online at home smiling
Young female employee working at the office stressed out with work requests


Past Future

Traditional seniority-based hierarchy

Team-based approach with virtual teams common across a digitally distributed workforce

Promote agile working  bringing people, processes, and technology together to find the most effective way of getting the job done

Require use of company equipment

Support use of personal devices

Beginning automation of routine tasks and roles

Accelerated digital transformation across all industries and functions requiring new skills, upskilling, and retraining

Focus on process, inputs and tasks

Focus on results-driven work

Emphasis on work’s meaning and purpose to enhance engagement and productivity


Workday: When the work is done.

Male employee at home with smiling with his daughter after work
Female employee waiting for the train to go home after work


Past Future

Set work schedules

Schedules flex to accommodate personal responsibilities and priorities (e.g., caregiving)

“Windowed work” allows employees to divide their day into distinct windows of personal and work time

Work/life balance

Work/life integration. Work is part of life and vice versa.

Commuting leading to longer workdays and increased stress

Less/no commuting reduces stress and frees up time for work/life integration

A “in-the-office/face time” culture sometimes motivated by mistrust of remote workers and concerns about productivity and quality

Wider acceptance and encouragement of remote work and its benefits to productivity and well-being

“Always on” culture enabled by technology

Organizations prioritize well-being, workers expect and organizations support disconnecting outside traditional working hours

Frequent travel to attend in person meetings and events

Essential travel only, most meetings virtual and better prioritization of needed meetings


Workforce: Who does the work, including recruitment, skills, development, and rewards.

Businessman man chatting with colleagues online on a laptop
Business people walking up and down the stairs in the office building


Past Future

Workforce planning focused on traditional organizational structure

Agile workforce planning is fluid and rewards cross-organizational collaboration assisted by technology. Model balances short and long-term workforce needs.

Talent acquisition linked to educational level and/or geography

Consider borderless candidates for certain roles, with the primary focus on cultural fit, skills and attributes

Hiring tied to defined roles

Talent acquisition parallels business goals by filling current needs and seeing agility as a necessity, individual roles evolve as business needs change

Climbing the “corporate ladder”

Talent development and career progression support work/life integration leading to personal and professional growth

Keep professional and personal lives separate

Recognize and accept the whole person, promoting mental, social, physical, and financial well-being

“One size fits all” approach to training

Multi-dimensional training/reskilling delivery; offer feedback loop for talent to suggest necessary training; support intellectual curiosity and innovation.

“One size fits all” approach to benefits and rewards

Personalized benefits support talent across the employment lifecycle


Workplace: The physical environment where individuals work.

Female employee at home working on her laptop
Male employee at the office working in a cubicle


Past Future
Central office or hub and spoke office space model

Smaller regional hubs or satellite offices lower real estate spend as work moves to the cloud, accessible from anywhere at anytime

In-person with co-workers in a shared workspace

Employees encouraged to work wherever they can get their best work done; workspaces support different workstyles and flexibility preferences with options for focused, engaged, and collaborative work

Open-office plan layouts with cubicle farms

Active workspaces with modular configurations for collaboration, privacy and concentration, and physical changes to comply with social distancing guidelines

Safety and health siloed; physical environments relatively generic for all

Healthy and safe workspaces integrated; buildings support optimal air quality, noise levels, climate, and lighting; individually tailored workspaces

Enhanced focus on environmentally friendly designs, sustainability, and reduced carbon footprints



The future of work requires new capabilities, new skills, and a new way of thinking. Segal is helping organizations meet these demands to achieve pivotal transformations in work, address evolving workforce challenges and succeed in this new environment.

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This page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax or investment advice. You are encouraged to discuss the issues raised here with your legal, tax and other advisors before determining how the issues apply to your specific situations.

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