A robot with a touch screen interface on its chest. This symbolizes the future of work.

When it comes to nonprofit trends, the future of work is one of the most talked about topics this year. According to “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here – are you ready?” by Deloitte Insights, the future of work is described as the following:

 “Driven by accelerating connectivity, new talent models and cognitive tools, work is changing. As robotics, AI, the gig economy and ‘crowds’—on-demand, scalable external talent—grow, jobs are being reinvented, creating the augmented workforce. We must reconsider how jobs are designed and work to adapt and learn for future growth.”

We in the nonprofit leadership space are certainly no strangers to disruption and change. Flexibility and agility are basic skills we’ve developed for survival, and we wear many hats to get work done with limited resources. Yet with the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the digital transformations it brings, the biggest difference today is that the pace of change has never been faster.

Three trends to consider going into the New Year

Below we unpack three themes that will emerge in the months ahead. Are you ready?

Artificial intelligence. It’s no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) advances continue to surge, with rumors of new job displacements growing by the month. Many people broach the topic with fear and trepidation, hoping they can make it to retirement before their careers get wiped out of existence by machines. However, this concern around AI is somewhat premature. Take heart: AI is not replacing the need for human workers. Rather, it is changing the way we work. And just as humans have adapted to new technology for decades, so we will learn how to put our unique logic, strategic thinking, and empathy to work alongside machines.

The gig economy. Temporary positions are becoming more commonplace as organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. According to a study by Intuit, 40 percent of American workers will be independent contractors by 2020. This transition radically affects an organization’s strategy for employee hiring and retention, workforce planning, and talent development. Embracing this movement saves employers resources in the way of benefits and office space and improves employee well-being with greater flexibility and work-life balance.

Reskilling employees. With machine learning and contractual work on the rise, employers are realizing a need to retrain workers for skills required by new terms of work and new jobs. Reskilling is defined as gaining new skills for success in a different career. For example, an agency outsources its survey development to a contractor and automates survey deployment with the aid of digital tools and artificial intelligence. The person formerly responsible for these tasks takes on a program management role within the organization. This new position requires rapid reskilling via a two-week boot camp that blends formal learning with on-the-job shadowing and performance support.

First steps into the future

Instead of running from these workplace transformations in terror or hiding in ignorance, we recommend you step back and take an objective look at your people, processes, plans, and performance. As a first step, an assessment is an excellent approach to uncover the underdeveloped opportunities in your organization and begin to create a plan for capacity building. Have you thoughtfully considered external threats, carefully examined your processes for maximum efficiency, and strategically identified new skills required by current and future talent? Brighter Strategies is here to help. Contact us today to learn more.