What will the Future of Work be in Queensland?
We live in times of fast-paced change. The future is already in the home, the street, and the workplace in the form of smartphones, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), driving assistance, remote work, the Cloud and more. Many technological improvements and social changes are likely to impact Queensland businesses now and into the future.
Where is the Queensland workplace at now?
The latest data from CCIQ’s Pulse Survey, spanning 535 Queensland businesses, revealed an increased labour shortage, combined with general operating costs reaching all times high.
While business performance improved in the last quarter, due to stronger sales and revenue, the outlook deteriorated. Rising costs in fuel prices, insurance, electricity, logistics and supply are bound to influence and shape Queensland businesses in the future. Alternatives might need to be found to adjust spending, but the current difficulty in recruiting and retaining employees might not be an easily solved issue.
Already, speculation is high on the need for businesses to soon raise salaries, train and gain more skilled workers from overseas. A national Jobs and Skills Summit is planned at the Parliament House in early September to address the rising challenges and propose new solutions.
“Businesses need certainty about what support they’ll be offered for rising operating costs, if there is to be any sustained improvement in business confidence over the next 12 months.” CCIQ’s Policy and Advocacy Manager Cherie Josephson said.
Planning for the future will allow for more resilience in Queensland businesses.
Global and emerging trends
The world has proven to be uncertain in the last few years, showering us with unprecedented surprises. Globally, enterprises had to swiftly adapt to the pandemic, extreme weather and the first gen Z employees entering the workforce fresh out of university. This rapid transition into more technology-heavy structures, as well as growing work flexibility and generational gap, has long-term effects.
Trends impacting workplace, workforce and worklife
Last month, the CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency, released their 2022 megatrend report. They highlighted 7 trends that businesses should expect to face sooner rather than later. Previously, PwC Australia also published an important Hopes and Fears of 2021 report after surveying 32,500 employees.
CCIQ has worked at categorising those emerging trends to further investigate which ones will be felt in Queensland to prepare local businesses.
- Rise of automation and the autonomous
Artificial intelligence (AI) discoveries are booming as well as autonomous systems advances. Applications are found in all industry sectors boosting productivity. But 60% of employees are worried that automation is putting many jobs at risk, PwC found. The rise of automation and automated process pushes forward the needs for new jobs, and new skills required by businesses in the future.
- New skills needed
With tasks and skills required rapidly changing for the workforce, Australians are expected to undertake more training and reskilling in the future. 75% of Australian respondents in the PwC survey were ready to learn new skills or completely re-train in order to remain employable in the future.
- Climate change adaptation
Unprecedented weather and natural disasters are on the rise globally. Brisbane alone witnessed two floods in the span of a year. Natural catastrophes are expected to cost the Australian economy three times more in 2050 than in 2017 and imprint new risks on location, the CSIRO wrote. Workplaces might have to be re-thought.
- E-commerce and digital space
Teleworking, online shopping, telehealth, digital currencies, augmented reality and digital property investing are now mainstream. There only seems to be space to grow in that sphere.
- Remote working
In general, the forced widespread ‘remote working experiment’ has proven to be successful. Employees have shown that working from home can still be productive, meaningful, and does not impact their working relationships or organisational structure. In fact, the majority would argue that ‘working outside of the office’ is the new norm. PwC found 74% of Australian workers want a mix of remote and in-person working, and 29% said they would consider quitting if there were forced to abandon remote work completely.
- The human dimension
There is an observable consumer and citizen push for more transparency, trust, fairness, diversity and equality in businesses, governments and amongst all decision-makers, the CSIRO found.
- Cleaner and greener
An increased focus on sustainability and renewable energy sources is very likely. Improved recycling solutions and net-zero energy transitions are on the radar. By 2025, renewable energy is expected to surpass coal, the CSIRO estimates. With the rising costs of electricity, incentives to reduce usage with the free ecoBiz program for example, or finding clean alternatives is becoming more attractive.
- Health imperative
The pandemic highlighted the challenges posed by an ageing population, growing chronic diseases and unhealthy sedentary lifestyles. Not only physical health, but mental health awareness is gaining momentum and losing its stigmatisation. One in five Australians reported high or very high levels of psychological distress, CSIRO highlights. Workplaces will be expected to have support systems in place.
Are businesses going to go back to the way they were?
Or is this the new normal? Only time will tell, but knowledge acquired can rarely be unlearnt. It seems unlikely the last couple of years won’t leave a permanent mark. Businesses have gained new insights and have changed their practices. With the building of new expectations comes an evolving workplace with new demands. Resilient businesses that develop strategies riding on future trends and answering the new demands will come up on top.
What is hard to predict is which changes are going to be retained, which will be dropped and how much further will they evolve.
The observed national trends may play out slightly differently in Queensland, which is why there is a need to hear the voice of local businesses. With the quarterly CCIQ Pulse survey of businesses, it is possible to track rising pain points, areas of growth and areas of need. And this can be further fined tuned with more pointed research.
The Future of Work in Queensland, what will that look like?
Only by being aware of trends and challenges can issues be pre-emptively tackled. As seen in the Pulse report, some worries have already surfaced on skill shortages requiring immediate attention as well as future planning.
Some large-scale strategy is needed to support businesses against the current as well as foreshadowed strains.
Whether new trends develop in technology, skill migration, employee expectations, weather and health risks or sustainability, CCIQ aims to be at the forefront. Only by remaining aware of business strains can CCIQ advocate for all Queensland businesses’ future.
The Future of Work survey, last month intended to roadmap the needs and pain points of local businesses over the next five years. This important research can offer the foundation for a holistic strategy for Queensland businesses going forward. The results will be published in October.