Workforce 4.0

What is Workforce 4.0?

With technology advancing so quickly, it can be hard to keep track of all the changes that have taken place in recent years. We’ve gone through a pandemic, a shift to remote work and the gig economy, and an adoption of a long list of digital tools in our everyday lives. Many companies and industries have undergone disruptions and are seeking ways to adapt to worker and consumer expectations. Chat GPT, AI, and other ongoing trends remind us that the evolution of digitization and automation is still taking place.

If we take a step back and reflect for a moment, however, we’ll see that these trends are the culmination of past developments. What we’re currently experiencing is a result of advances in several key areas. Collectively, this convergence of machines, digital tools, and the way we work and live is often called the Industrial Revolution 4.0, or Workforce 4.0.

Early Industrial Revolutions

Turning back the clock to Britain in the 18th century, we find the first Industrial Revolution, with the discovery of coal and steam power which revolutionized the way that goods could be produced and distributed. These new methods made it possible for machines—rather than humans—to put in the labor required to manufacture products.

Advances continued, and soon the second Industrial Revolution took place in the 19th and 20th centuries. It involved a shift away from coal and toward electricity, gas, and oil. Assembly lines became more productive, and with the inventions of transportation like the plane and car, goods could be moved in new ways.

The third Industrial Revolution began in the middle of the 20th century, with the computer and internet ushering in a new age for companies and workers. Nuclear energy came into use for power, and telecommunications advanced so that consumers and businesses could carry out instant communication.

Workforce 4.0

Now as we move through the fourth Industrial Revolution, we see high levels of integration and collaboration. With the new technologies, companies will find that humans, rather than machines, take center stage. As routine tasks are automated, team members can focus on high-level tasks. They can specialize in niches, develop new designs, and solve problems. Given this, we can expect the workforce to look for ways to have deeper experiences and access to higher levels of training. They will want to feel valued and have a balanced lifestyle, with some level of remote work and built-in flexibility to their schedules. Consumers, for their part, will be interested in seamless experiences and impactful brands.

Underneath all these are three main disruptions that are shaping everything. First, we have the AI revolution that will make us more productive and focus on more creative usage of our time. Then there is the remote work/home office trend that has been ushered in by the pandemic, and we won’t be able to roll this back. Many have adapted to remote work, and it will be difficult to not offer this in some kind of way shape or form. The third disruption is the uberization of work, meaning more on demand work, more gigs, and more flexibility. Coupled with the second major disruption, it requires more focusing on results and not on the time spent working.

As we look ahead, it will be important to take employees and their contributions into consideration. Now may be the time to reflect on how your team and company are adapting to Workforce 4.0. It could also be appropriate to invest in the right technologies and create better experiences for workers and consumers.

Gerard Szatvanyi

Author: Gerard Szatvanyi

As a founding member and CEO of OSF Digital, Gerry has more than 15 years of experience managing start-ups and medium-size IT businesses and driving them to peak performance. With background in Enterprise Applications, IT Services and Consultancy, Gerry's impressive client and business portfolio sets him in the new breed for global entrepreneurship.