5 trends shaping the future of work

2023 will be defined by adaptable, collaborative workflows

How does feeling insecure impact our ability to focus on work? From social tension and economic uncertainty to the persistence of COVID-19 and climate crises, the past few years have given employees much reason to worry about stability. 

But when thinking about what makes them feel more grounded on the job, experts agree that everything from an organization’s vision statement to establishing OKRs and implementing workflows should adhere to a common principle—namely, adaptability. 

If the “great resignation” and “quiet quitting” trends of 2022 had anything in common, it was the fact that many employees felt their workplaces simply weren’t moving with the times. By stepping back—either from unnecessarily burdensome manual tasks or even their jobs—workers proved just how important it is to work from anywhere, collaborate with anyone, and, crucially, focus the bulk of their valuable time on the projects they care about. 

Business leaders in every industry—from media and entertainment to marketing and communications—should make the time to ensure their teams can be as adaptable as possible. Your workflows should reflect these five trends, which will define the future of work in 2023 and beyond:  

  • Hybrid/remote work environments will prove essential

  • Adoption of cloud-based productivity tools will directly correspond with success

  • Decision-making will see a boost from automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning 

  • Organizations will redouble their focus on a deeper purpose while prioritizing employees’ perspectives and well-being

  • All eyes will be on efficiency: the quality and speed of online collaboration

While these trends will impact different businesses across various differently, maintaining a strong baseline of understanding of each trend helps ensure teams can effectively adapt. Let’s break down each trend and what we can do to prepare to meet it. 

Hybrid/remote work environments will prove essential

It’s become a truism: the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed how we work. We now have a more clear sense of the importance of allowing employees the flexibility to work from wherever they feel comfortable and productive. However, there are still many other ways business leaders can work to set their teams up for success.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Susan Hardy, Digital Transformation Leader at global IT giant CDW, stressed the importance of expanding employees’ access to innovative, collaboration-oriented tools. “Focus on offering the right tools, processes, and technology that will enable a successful hybrid work environment,” Hardy said. 

Cloud and automation tools, in particular, help hybrid teams stay connected. Take the marketing team at a digital media company, for example. They are preparing for a major release and need to create a collection of promotional materials such as trailers, summaries, graphics, and social media content before the launch.

They can ensure they meet deadlines using tools designed for their teams’ workflow. This might include pairing a cloud storage and collaboration tool like LucidLink with Adobe Creative Cloud to store, access, and edit design files and assets remotely in real-time. Having the right tech stack ensures the marketing team gets back the time they would have otherwise lost tackling tedious workflow challenges when using platforms that don’t give them on-demand access to large files and assets. 

It’s not just current employees who will benefit from more flexible, personalized, hybrid work environments. New talent will be more attracted to organizations that allow them to focus their expertise on the work they do best rather than tedious administrative tasks and cumbersome workflows. Plus, in the wake of the great resignation and quiet quitting waves, hybrid work environments can expand your organization’s access to a broader, more diverse pool of top talent from around the world.

Adoption of cloud-based productivity tools will directly correspond with success

Why productivity tools? At a recent meeting of human resources executives organized by CNBC, Nela Richardson, chief economist at management services giant ADP, noted that 2022 saw “three straight quarters of year-over-year drops in average productivity per worker,” a concerning trend not seen since 1983. According to CNBC analysis, “people are working more and producing less,” meaning that projects are not being completed, goals are not being accomplished, and innovation is slowing down as multiple overlapping priorities compete for workers’ attention. 

Cloud technology—the “lifeline of the latest technological progress,” experts predict—is expected to find an even wider, warmer reception this year as a suite of much-anticipated functionality finally goes live across the industry. 

What is clear across all industries is that cloud computing is laser-focused on helping companies increase productivity. At its core, cloud tools offer employees that struggle with productivity an opportunity to redouble their focus on the most critical aspects of their work. This is especially important in creative fields, where creators need their tech to move with them as they create and execute their projects. Cloud productivity tools help all employees cut out everyday frustrations like download errors and delays, syncing inconsistencies, and file version conflicts by taking advantage of their instant access to data in the cloud and from the edge. In short, the companies that bet on cloud computing are betting that their employees will be more productive when their workflows are more predictable and efficient. 

Decision-making will see a boost from automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning  

When we talk about how AI and machine learning can improve decision-making, we’re really talking about two kinds of decisions. 

First, there are the judgment calls we make in our everyday work. Questions like “Is this the most updated version of a file,” “Have we used this particular image before,” and “Is all of our art and copy aligned across all assets” become a lot easier to answer when automation is a standard part of our workflow. That’s because AI and machine learning help insulate us from inevitable human error and bias, raising the bar for consistency and quality across the board. 

Second, we have to choose how to allocate our time and energy. The fundamental promise of AI and machine learning technologies is that they will give us back the freedom to choose which tasks to focus on. In most cases, this means more items on the seemingly endless administrative to-do list will be checked off for us, and the deeper, more creative, and more enjoyable work is ours to obsess over. 

Both kinds of decisions can be enhanced with some automation. In the era of big data, businesses and organizations using AI and automation technologies can quickly, and accurately analyze large amounts of data, providing insights and recommendations that can help them to make better decisions. 

For example, the ability to “identify patterns in data” can be decisive in creating the right content for the right audience. There may not be a way to literally predict the future (yet), but machine learning gives folks working in creative fields greater insight into popular tastes and attitudes so that they can craft content to meet the moment. In media and entertainment, this means an end to trend-chasing—and the beginning of a promotions strategy defined by authentic engagement with every unique audience you’re trying to reach. 

Organizations will redouble their focus on a deeper purpose while prioritizing employees’ perspectives and well-being 

As human beings, our search for a meaningful life is too important and immersive to be conducted at night and on weekends alone. We are always on the lookout for opportunities to contribute to something greater than ourselves. 

The most forward-looking organizations know this. They are constantly thinking of new ways to prioritize their employees’ perspectives and well-being as they take up the difficult and exciting task of improving society and the environment. 

How do market leaders get started in this work? Looking inward helps. Employees must be top-of-mind at any purpose-driven enterprise, especially in times of social, health, and environmental crisis.  

Alarmingly, 49 percent of employees now experience burnout. Work-related stress isn’t all on employees’ minds, however. Exhaustion from persistent inflation, layoff fears, and the lingering effects of COVID-19 are also responsible for plummeting well-being and productivity. 

There are several ways that purpose-minded organizations can authentically support their employees through difficult times. In the modern world, one critical way is doubling down on authentic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. The ultimate goal of DEI policies is to increase empathy and understanding and strengthen communication, teamwork, mentorship, and work-life balance—which will make a real difference.  

This is just as important for current employees as it is for new talent. Job search sites report that 86 percent of job seekers look at prospective employers’ DEI policies, and nearly 62 percent will even turn down an offer if those policies seem insufficient. 

Just as DEI is important to current employees, many job seekers are looking for an employer who wants to make the world a better place. For some, that means joining a company that focuses on sustainability. 

Think of sustainability as an organization’s commitment to its “triple bottom line”—that’s people, planet, and profit. Top industry leaders are increasingly making shifts to ensure their organizations transition smoothly into the low-carbon era. Whether that means proactively soliciting their feedback in generating sustainable KPIs, identifying opportunities for reducing waste in their day-to-day work, or organizing group events to raise awareness, creating a culture around sustainability is fundamental to long-term success.

All eyes will be on efficiency: the quality and speed of online collaboration 

No matter what advances we make in our technical ability to communicate and collaborate online, without establishing a rock-solid baseline of trust and transparency, employee adoption of those impressive abilities likely won’t match expectations. 

What does that mean? Internally, it means breaking down silos of information so that employees who need access to certain information and files to do their jobs quickly get it. Externally, it means doing everything we can to protect client data privacy, maintain a consistently high standard for all content we produce, and remain prepared to work rapidly and efficiently to meet our client’s needs. 

In 2022, 69 percent of companies accelerated their migration to cloud computing, partly because of the trend toward hybrid work following the COVID-19 pandemic. Chris Parker, VP of Microsoft Alliance at Virtusa, says that to make the most of those big investments, “enterprise leaders are turning to cloud partners to gain visibility and control. In this digital-first era, where trust and transparency are critical, leaders look for ways to accelerate growth and performance without compromising innovation.” 

Cloud computing encourages the kind of collaboration the World Economic Forum (WEF) had in mind when it recently praised “the ecosystem model” of doing business, which encourages different teams, different business units, and even different organizations to find ways to work together. In a study released in the first week of 2023, companies that follow the ecosystem model outperformed those that didn’t, with the majority reporting increased efficiency or reduced costs (65 percent); expansion into new geographies (59 percent); and the creation of new, jointly-made products (57 percent).

The takeaway: How to adapt for the future of work

To succeed in the future of work, organizations must have processes and tools that align with current trends. Business leaders must remember that these are only the trends we can predict now. What’s most important is understanding that being adaptable to change is crucial for increasing productivity and collaboration in the long run.

Whether your organization is transitioning to the cloud to enhance efficiency and remote access or aiming to optimize workflow tools to boost productivity and ROI, using tools like LucidLink can be a powerful and smooth solution to help your teams adapt to the evolving demands and trends of today’s market economy.

Book a demo today to learn more about how LucidLink can help you prepare your organization for the future of work.