It’s inevitable: Cloud technology, data science and artificial intelligence are dramatically transforming how we work. Over the last 50 years, globalization has seen workplaces change to simplify business systems and the delivery of goods and services to customers, the greatest inventions in this area being computers, the internet and mobile phones. As a result of the advancements made since these inventions took over the world, the information technology (IT) revolution will allow workers in all industries and in companies of all shapes and sizes to make choices in how they work.

A New Perspective

Interestingly, though, there are always two sides to change. This change can make work easier, or it can present persistent challenge. The difference is perspective. How can companies today gain perspective on maintaining a happy workforce that will have increasingly more choice over their work? Is it additional vacation time? Is it greater retirement and benefit options? Is it more money? It’s a great debate topic, but there is no denying that how people feel at work matters more and more each year.

Every person can reflect on their developmental years and pinpoint what mattered to them and what inspired them to be the best they could be. However, it’s impossible to measure every person’s development equally in terms of opportunity and potential. Not everyone starts off with the means to choose what he or she will do for a living, but the future of work is changing that reality.

The skills required to make better work choices will stem from individuals’ maturity — that is, can the company trust they’ll work without being micromanaged? How much self-responsibility, self-motivation and self-knowledge can employees develop? The focus of the future of work will be on meeting business goals — however, wherever and by whomever necessary.

Even the climate issues we face will spur companies to embrace flexible work approaches, because when fewer people commute and burn fuel from transportation, it’s a good thing for the planet. People will work more from home, ride their bikes to the office or work intermittently from locations that support their choices, as long as they are helping their employers meet their business goals.

The Opportunity for L&D

The opportunity for learning and development (L&D) professionals is to augment the employee experience toward helping people grow in their maturity and self-responsibility at work. We know learning is already shifting; there is no simple model that we can rely on to adapt to the changes we’ll see in the next five to 10 years.

One of the best things L&D departments can do today to be ready for the employee experience of tomorrow is to know their people and implement the technologies, infrastructure and governance processes to facilitate access to current, engaging, easy-to-consume content and collective experiences where real human mindset shifts can take place. Employees must be ready to drive their own learning and development. Companies that are preparing for that future now will be able to celebrate the choices their employees make. It can truly be a win-win.