We're going back to work, but not the way we used to

Deloitte's expert on the future of work says get ready for more gig jobs, Zoom calls and a new kind of manager.

Brian Cooley Editor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and The PHM HealthFront™. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
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Brian Cooley
2 min read
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When you go back to work will you recognize it? The future will elevate gig work, remote work and virtual teams from niche or second-class status to being the new mainstream, according to Deloitte.

"We're not going to back to what once was," says Steve Hatfield, Global Future of Work Leader at Deloitte. "Most organizations have recognized that virtual and distributed work can happen," he says of the "demonstration factor" that has been thrust upon them because of shelter-in-place orders. "We will not go back to having everyone in the office in the same way." 

recent Gartner survey found that 74% of chief financial officers expect some of their workforce to remain remote and 17% of them expect 20% of their workforce to do so.  

Watch this: 75% of CFOs say a bunch of us can just stay home
Steven Hatfield, Global Future of Work Leader, Deloitte

Steven Hatfield, global future of work leader at Deloitte, thinks a lot more will change about the nature of work than a bunch of Zoom calls and sneeze shields in the office.


Change in the workplace will vary greatly by job type, of course, but all work categories will need to focus on the psychological perception of whether it's safe to return to the job. "The psychological aspect of safety is centered around trust in your employer, but also relates to things like the subway or public transport" that employers don't control, Hatfield says. Combine that with a disease that isn't fully understood yet, and it's easy to imagine a lot of workers opting to stay remote even if the company reopens its offices. 

That keeps those workers out of a broader economy of restaurants, coffee purchases, transit expenditures and downtown shopping that is all supported by millions going to physical workplaces. 

Going back to the workplace is also about preserving company culture, one of the main reasons we have offices in the first place. "It's a real obstacle," Hatfield says. "The organizations that are thinking about their culture more deliberately are the ones that will succeed." Hatfield advocates a clean-sheet review, from how new-hire onboarding is done to how the workday might be divided into sections with specific modes of work: Mornings might be collaborative while afternoons are set aside for individual work, with status meetings as bookends to it all.

And gig work, far beyond Uber driving and GrubHub deliveries, may proliferate, predicts Hatfield. Many companies may broaden their gig use of highly skilled workers so they transition to having the right skills on staff at the right time, rather than all skills all the time. That may challenge notions of work stability and employee loyalty.

Steve Hatfield had a lot more to say about how the world's largest business services firm sees us going back to work. Hear all the insights he shared with Brian Cooley in the full video replay above.

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Now What is a video interview and panel series with industry leaders, celebrities and influencers covering the major changes and trends impacting business and how consumers connect in the "new normal" 2020 world and beyond. There will always be change in our world, there will always be technology helping us navigate that change, and we'll always discuss surprising twists, turns and potential solutions.