If we had the opportunity to ask our grandparents what they imagined the world in the year 2023 would be like when they were children, would they have guessed Artificial Intelligence (AI), missions to Mars, smartphones, and the internet? I highly doubt that. The world as we know it is experiencing a rapid and ever-changing pace of development. Technological advancements, globalization, and shifting societal dynamics are transforming various aspects of our lives at an unprecedented speed. This fast-paced development is reshaping industries, economies, communication, and even personal interactions. And in this dynamic landscape, individuals and organizations must adapt quickly to stay relevant and thrive. The constant influx of new ideas, innovations, and information has created a world where continuous learning, agility, and flexibility are essential. Embracing this rapid development is crucial for individuals and businesses to navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by our rapidly evolving world.

Just like the accounting profession, the business landscape and its organizations must adapt and transform their workforce to remain competitive and ensure long-term success. This is where workforce transformation comes in. Workforce transformation involves reimagining and redesigning the way employees operate within an organization, equipping them with the necessary skills, tools, and mindset to meet the evolving demands of our volatile environment and drive business growth.

To give a better idea, a recent article by McKinsey elaborated on how the future of work can look in the next few years with data coming from China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Their report emphasized various details, such as how by 2030, one in every sixteen workers may need to change careers and how "high-skill" occupations (healthcare or science, technology, engineering, math, etc.) will be on the rise while "middle and low-skill jobs" (as food service, production work, or office support roles) will meet their decline. Furthermore, the article analysed how the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the way the workforce pre-pandemic operated, with post-pandemic workforce transformation capitalising on the use of digital technology to expand a business’ effectivity and influence remotely.

Interestingly, studies like this give way to a deeper and more profound understanding of how our current society focuses greatly on workforce transformation and how the global pandemic has forced us to take advantage of our technological innovation to drastically alter and modify our people and the way we operate our businesses for our businesses and careers to simply adapt and survive. And in this article, I will explore the leading elements of workforce transformation that will have a significant impact on the future of business operations.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is becoming more popular with a growing number of businesses, incorporating digital tools, automation, and artificial intelligence into day-to-day operations.

The past decade saw an increase in the use of digital platforms in commerce, from AI-powered chatbots to the growing network of online payment portals. The popularity of the use of technology in enhancing customer experience was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Pre-pandemic, most organizations did not have roadmaps for digitalization and online operations; the digital transformation of most organizations was costly and premature, being just a response to the pandemic. In time, businesses slowly adapted, redundant processes were streamlined, and the focus shifted from being responsive to being drivers of change.

Meanwhile, the use of automation and robotics in industrial manufacturing is growing at an unprecedented scale. The World Robotics Report 2022, published by the International Federation of Robotics, shows that installation of industrial robots in 2021 in factories around the world grew by 31% year-on-year, exceeding threat of shrinking population in China. Being the world’s second largest economy in terms of gross domestic product, the impact of China’s shrinking workforce will be felt globally. Countries around the globe are preparing for a future where Automation and AI technologies are expected to replace certain repetitive and routine tasks, leading to a shift in job requirements. On the ground, the demand for manpower is expected to shift from laborers and clerical workers to experts who can operate, maintain, and extract valuable insights from digital platforms. At the top level, managers and executives are expected to become more agile and efficient in decision making as the landscape constantly changes.  Luckily, the use of cloud-based systems allow access to real-time data, allowing executives to make data-driven decisions and strategies.

Hybrid Job Roles

Workforce transformation often leads to the creation of hybrid job roles that combine skills from different domains. For example, jobs that require a combination of technical knowledge and business acumen or roles that involve both customer service and data analysis are slowly becoming more in demand. The ability to adapt and learn multiple skill sets will be valuable in future job markets. Not to mention, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work and virtual collaboration tools. As a result, future jobs are likely to involve a higher degree of remote work and the need to collaborate effectively in virtual environments. Proficiency in digital communication tools and remote collaboration platforms will be essential.

Culture Transformation

Culture is often taken for granted when drawing up plans for workforce transformation. While digitalization keeps people connected to technology, they are slowly losing connections at a personal level. Some of the cultures that organizations worked years to build were shaken by digital transformation. Values are becoming more difficult to keep when teams work remotely as businesses tend to put excessive emphasis on productivity while neglecting to check on what their workforce needs. Knowledge transfer also becomes less effective when done virtually, which hampers professional growth. Now, as organizations embrace digitalization, leaders are facing challenges to innovate ways on how to balance organizational objectives and employees’ welfare. Leaders are coming up with ideas on how to marry both with digitalization. 

Green and Sustainable Jobs

With more and more companies focusing on reusable materials due to increasing pressure from society, there is also an increasing focus on sustainability and environmental concerns that is expected to create a higher demand for green jobs. These jobs will involve developing and implementing sustainable practices, renewable energy technologies, eco-friendly initiatives, and addressing climate change challenges.

Emphasis on Soft Skills

According to a Forbes article, the idea that people listen to comprehend, whereas AI listens to respond, is a significant skill that separates the two. The capacity to forge relationships with clients that support the alignment of business and communications strategy is something that AI will never be able to replicate, at least for now. The importance of soft skills that are challenging to automate, such as creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, cooperation, and emotional intelligence, is rising as automation replaces some technical duties. People who can successfully communicate, adapt to change, and work in diverse teams will be in high demand in the future.

Workforce transformation is essential for organizations to thrive in an increasingly competitive business environment. By prioritizing continuous learning and upskilling, embracing agile work arrangements, leveraging digital transformation, promoting employee engagement and empowerment, and fostering diversity and inclusion, businesses can enhance their operational plans and ensure future success. These workforce transformation essentials drive innovation, productivity, and adaptability, positioning organizations to navigate the evolving landscape and seize new opportunities. Embracing workforce transformation is not only vital for business growth but also for attracting and retaining top talent, building a resilient organization, and achieving sustainable success. By prioritizing continuous learning, one can easily stay ahead in a rapidly evolving business landscape.


As published in The Manila Times, dated 16 August 2023