In 1999, none of us imagined, we would book taxis on Uber and Ola, hotel rooms on Makemytrip, Oyo and Trivago, plan holidays looking at TripAdvisor, decide to watch movies based on reviews on Rotten tomatoes, self-drive cars on Zoomcars, decide on job offers based on Glassdoor ratings and openly air our opinions on social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn.
As we are in 2019, can we imagine life in 2040 and prepare for it?
Around us, we see more a pronounced trend of nationalism and protectionism of anything that is considered local. Right from food, clothes, education and culture to trade and commerce, there is a move towards taking pride in preferring things that are supposedly in practice among the majority in the local markets. We have seen Huawei facing challenges from the US and many other parts of the world; President Trump called for ‘buy American and hire American’ through an executive order. We keep seeing anti-trust proceedings, taxation issues against some of the US behemoths in different parts of the world; immigration rules getting harder in many parts of the world. China has put barriers for companies like Google in their land. Trade barriers, local laws around taxation, dividend repatriation, investments from foreign countries impact companies who operate in multiple countries. We will see more of these in the years to come until the cycle turns again towards the idea of ‘one world and one people’.
The idea of global market versus local market is not necessarily defined by the geographic boundaries of nations and states. Practices followed elsewhere in the world are sometimes despised upon and some are adapted gleefully as one’s own. For example, English language is very much at the core of our day to day work lives in India; and at the same time, there is an increasing realisation to preserve and practice a local language that we associate ourselves with. There is a drive towards using this local language for transacting business.
Often, there are clashes between the ideas of adapting global practices and preserving local traditions. In the years ahead, we will see more of these in our day to day lives and hence, at the workplaces. HR has to deal with these and get ready now.
Diversity and inclusion will become a crucial cog in the wheel of the organisation. Right from recruiting people, inducting them to managing their performance to building a sense of relatedness and belongingness amongst them are in the domain of HR. Given the context of deglobalisation, global companies have to be flexible in the way they are structured, the values they espouse, the practices they follow in running the business day to day. They have to develop local practices which conform to their purpose and values at the core and at the same time, adapt to the realities of the local market.
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Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google have been the stars of the tech world. Going forward, we will see new technologies using artificial intelligence, driverless vehicles, drones, robotics, manufacturing methods, alternate forms of energy, storage solutions for energy, data computing and so on.
All of these developments could disrupt the way companies are manufacturing their products, offering their products and services to their customers. Need for talent is likely to undergo huge changes. With the advent of fast changes in the environment, organisations are likely to focus on super-specialisations rather than being generalists. Thus, they will need very few full-time employees and use gig workers and temp employees to keep their business flexible. Their employment contracts with employers will be rewritten. This brings forth an interesting challenge for the HR folks to retain and engage these employees. Usual techniques and approaches to grow commitment and belongingness of employees have to be revamped.
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We all have been seeing the impact of irresponsible behaviours of human beings while growing businesses at a maddening pace. Our world is a very different place than it was three to four decades ago. Thankfully we have started taking interest in sustainability and learning to be more responsible in our behaviours while dealing with customers, partners, our own colleagues and the environment.
In the next few decades, many things are going to change – the energy that we use, the amount of resources we consume, the way we dispose of unused or partially consumed goods. Revamping the work processes and the existing systems is going to be expensive for organisations. Employees need to be reskilled to use the new systems, equipment and processes. HR team has to add resources with the necessary skills and appropriate thinking to the team. It will be a few years until the thinking and expectations of people will align with those of the organisations. We will have to plan for those efforts of transitioning into an organisation with total alignment.
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The decade ahead is going to be challenging for the companies to transition into a new world order in adapting to new tech, deglobalised practices and sustainable way of life.