Jobs and the Future of Work

3 trends will shape the future of work, according to Microsoft’s CEO

People-to-people connections and learning soft skills were also high on his list for the future of work.

People-to-people connections and learning soft skills were also high on his list for the future of work. Image: Unsplash/Arlington Research

Emma Charlton
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Future of Work

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  • Satya Nadella, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Corp. shared his views on the future of work at Davos 2023.
  • Productivity paranoia – where leaders question productivity while workers feel burned out, was a key theme.
  • People-to-people connections and learning soft skills were also high on his list for the future of work.
  • And he said artificial intelligence will be a co-pilot for workers of the future, aiding them in their tasks rather than replacing them completely.
  • The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report analyses the outlook for technology adoption, jobs and skills and how these are likely to evolve.

How will your job change in the coming months and years?

It’s a question that’s front of mind for many, as we enter a new phase, with the continual development of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies. And, as we grapple with hybrid working.

Satya Nadella, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Corp. shared his views at Davos 2023 when he sat down for a conversation with the World Economic Forum’s Founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab. The Forum has long been engaged in the debate around the future of work and publishes its Future of Jobs report regularly.

As AI progresses and our behaviours change, the world of work will enter a state of constant evolution.

“We're still learning because there has been real structural change,” Nadella said. “There are new patterns of work emerging.”

Three trends for the future of work

Here are three of the key points to emerge from the wide ranging discussion that covered tech, AI, cyber security and the metaverse, among other topics.

1. Productivity paranoia

Nadella outlined what he described as productivity paranoia.

“Every leader thinks that somehow they're not being productive,” he said. “But everybody who's working in the organization feels burned out.”

Output per hour worked – a key metric for productivity – is a high priority for many policy makers, including those in the UK, where productivity has been languishing for years.

According to Nadella, addressing this will require an interrogation of the data and making a plan to improve.

“There's no question the outcomes matter,” he said. “We should focus on the outcomes and then rediscover perhaps new patterns of successful work.”

A graphic showing the rate of automation from 2020 to 2025. future of work
Can machines help bolster productivity? Image: World Economic Forum.

2. Artificial intelligence as a co-pilot

Machine learning developments mean complex cognitive tasks and creativity are on the road to being automated more readily – a key topic at the Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

“One of the things we think a lot about is how to deploy this technology to empower human beings to do more,” Nadella said.

A graphic showing which sectors are working with open AI. future of work
OpenAI use on the up, but what does that mean for work? Image: Statista.

Software developers may use generative AI to write around 80% of their code now but that doesn’t mean that a human isn’t needed or that their creative input is redundant, he said.

“It just so happens that now he has 80% leverage in doing what he's doing. He's still the pilot but he does have a co-pilot.”


How is the World Economic Forum ensuring the responsible use of technology?

3. People and soft skills make success

A graphic showing the top 10 skills of 2025. future of work
Creativity and innovation in demand. Image: World Economic Forum.

What is the Forum doing about keeping workers well?

Everyone will have to learn new soft skills and take time to foster people-to-people connections, according to Nadella.

“Unless and until people feel fulfilled in their jobs, in terms of new skills that they've acquired, they're not going to have loyalty to the organization,” he said. “That means really investing in their progress.”

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Jobs and the Future of WorkEmerging Technologies
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