AI would have completely pervaded the future workplace, according to the imagination of academics, thinkers, leaders and employees surveyed.

Businesses that hope to emerge from the global pandemic in a stronger, better position need to be thinking about, and planning for future models, today.

What will the workforce, work models and the work environment look like in the year 2035? How will technology have shaped them? One international study was conducted between 2019 and this year with over 500 C-Suite leaders and 1,000 employees within large corporations and mid-market businesses across the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Netherlands on current and future workforce strategies and work models.

The following sectors were covered: financial services; healthcare and life sciences; telecommunications, media and technology; professional services; manufacturing and retail. As a necessity due to the fulminant changes this year, an additional wave of opinion research, surveying 300 business leaders, was conducted in May 2020. Here are the results.

  • Robots will not have replaced humans but they will make us smarter and more efficient. More than three-quarters of those polled (77%) believed that in fifteen years, AI will have significantly accelerated the decision-making process and made workers more productive.
  • New jobs will have been created. To support a technology-driven workplace and the changing relationship between humans and machines, new jobs and genres will have surfaced, according to business leaders and workers respectively: Robot / AI trainer (82%, 44%); virtual reality manager (79%, 36%); Advanced data scientist (76%, 35%); Privacy and trust manager (68%, 30%); Design thinker (56%, 27%).
  • Work will have become more flexible. Technology will by then allow for seamless access to the tools and information people need to collaborate and get work done wherever they happen to be. Some 67% of professionals (business leaders and workers combined) believed that a ‘platform’ model that creates value by facilitating exchanges between groups or individuals using digital technology will dominate work in the future.
    • 60% of workers believed permanent employees will have become rare by 2035.
    • 80% of leaders believed that technology platforms in that era will provide instant access to the highly-specialized, on-demand talent required to power organizations and accommodate rapid changes in business and customer needs.
    • 39% of leaders believed that the majority of high-value specialist workers will be on-demand and freelance workers by that year.
  • Leadership will have a new look. Slightly more than half of those surveyed (57%) believes AI will make most business decisions and potentially eliminate the need for senior management teams by then. Some 75% thought most organizations will have a central AI department overseeing all areas of the business; 69% believed that the CEO will work in a human-machine partnership with a Chief of Artificial Intelligence (CAI) by 2035.
  • Productivity will get a major boost. Technology, closely-integrated with humans, will be driving step changes in productivity as workers by then will be supported by solutions that enable them to perform at their best. Digital assistants driven by AI will draw on personal and workplace data to help employees prioritize their tasks and time and ensure mental and physical wellness levels and attitudes, and adjust as necessary to drive optimal outcomes.

    Half of professionals surveyed (51%) believed technology will be making workers at least twice as productive by 2035. Among the solutions they believed will be commonplace:
    • AI that anticipates and performs tasks based on habits and preferences 
    • AI nudges 
    • AI personal assistants
    • AI-guided digital wellness to ensure employees’ mental and physical well being 
    • Wearable technology to interact with systems 
    • Augmented-reality glasses
    • Neuro-linked technology for controlling devices
    • Exoskeletons to enhance performance-related tasks 
  • Employee engagement will improve. As technology and AI take over time-consuming, mundane tasks, work in 2035 will become more strategic and employees more engaged. Some 83% of professionals believed that by then, technology will automate low-value tasks, freeing workers to focus on the meaningful work they want and are paid to do. Also, 79% said it will be a significant factor in upskilling human workers, creating new opportunities for personal development and career growth.
  • Innovation and growth will soar. Organizations will invest more in technology and AI than on human capital in 2035. This will open the door to unprecedented levels of innovation and new revenue streams and fuel sustainable growth, particularly among small businesses. Some 90% of business leaders believed that AI technology investment will be the biggest driver of growth for their organization by then. Also, 72% of professionals believed that by 2030, AI will be generating more revenue for their organization than human workers. Finally, 63% of professionals believed that technology will level the playing field and convey the advantage to small companies.

According to Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Business Strategy, Citrix Systems, Inc, the firm that commissioned the study: “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to reimagine the way things get done, and over the next 15 years, they will face more challenges and disruptions than ever. But within this chaos lies opportunity. Savvy companies are using this crisis to begin planning for the ‘next normal’. Not just return to where they were, but to embrace new workforce- and work- models to power their business forward.”